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Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

Another anti-Zionist storm in Florence

The inauguration of Marco Carrai, an honorary consul of Israel, as the president of the Meyer Pediatric Hospital Foundation in Florence has once again stirred a political tempest in a teapot. This controversy is deftly orchestrated by Sinistra Progetto Comune, a far-left grouping, led by city councillors Dimitrij Gabriellovic Palagi and Antonella Moro Bundu. The polemic centers around Carrai’s publicly declared alignment with Israel – a move that places the political left on the opposing front in light of the ongoing tumult in the Middle East.

In their scathing critique, Palagi and Bundu argue that a figurehead with sympathies for Israel should not be at the helm of an institution tasked with tending to the health and well-being of children at the Florence hospital. The crux of their discontent lies in the fallout from the conflict between Israel and Hamas, specifically honing in on Israel’s response to the October 7 assault, which they claim resulted in tragic consequences for Palestinian children.

“Presiding over an organization dedicated to saving children is incongruous with endorsing the actions of the current Israeli government,” admonish Bundu and Palagi in a carefully crafted statement. They now await a pronouncement from the City of Florence, urging Carrai to condemn the unfolding tragedy in Gaza.

Notably, the Sinistra Progetto Comune councillors are not alone in their discontent; murmurs suggest that healthcare workers at the Meyer Hospital are contemplating a mobilization to call for the retraction of Carrai’s appointment. Meanwhile, they stand ready to wield an urgent inquiry in the city council to gauge the stance of the PD municipal administration on this matter.

In a swift riposte, Fratelli d’Italia has leapt to Carrai’s defense, castigating the left for what they term the instrumentalization of the issue. Alessandro Draghi, a councillor from Fratelli d’Italia, dismisses the notion that Carrai’s appointment is a reaction to recent events, asserting that it was based on his credentials and entrepreneurial acumen. Draghi takes a swipe at the left, urging them to redirect their political salvos away from the Meyer Hospital, emphasizing the impartiality of Carrai in his role as the president of the foundation.

As the political crossfire intensifies, one can’t help but observe the theatricality of the unfolding drama – a spectacle that could only befit the pages of a political potboiler. The Meyer Foundation, originally established to champion the cause of ailing children, now finds itself ensnared in the geopolitical crosswinds of the Middle East, with Carrai’s presidency serving as the lightning rod for a debate that shows no signs of abating.

Enrico Martelloni, a satirical cartoonist and a local member of the LibDem Party, has provided critical commentary on the recent events. Florence, once the bastion of freedom and a defiant republic against the might of Charles V’s Spain, now finds itself ensnared in a disheartening tale of administrative decay. As Michelangelo’s David stoically endures the erosion of governance, the city seems to have overlooked its own illustrious past. Yet, the iconic David stands as a silent witness, extracted from Carrara’s mountains, embodying not just aesthetic brilliance but a profound message of liberty and truth, laid bare for all to see.

According to Martelloni, the current narrative unfolds in stark contrast to this storied past. Anti-Zionism challenges the very ethos that the city’s monuments, including one of Europe’s paramount synagogues, stand to uphold. The allegorical David, representing freedom for all, irrespective of creed, beckons Florence to remember its moral origins and reclaim its historical narrative from the clutches of administrative decline.

About the Author
Giuseppe Levi Pezzulli ("Bepi") is a Solicitor specialised in International financial law and a foreign policy scholar. His research interest is economic statecraft. In 2018, he published "An alternative view of Brexit" (Milano Finanza Books), which investigates the economic and geopolitical implications of Brexit. In 2023, "Brave bucks" (Armando Publishing House), which highlights the role of private capital in the industrial policy mix. Formerly an Editor-in-Chief of La Voce Repubblicana; is a columnist for the Italian daily financial newspaper Milano Finanza; a pundit for the financial TV channel CNBC; and a Middle East analyst for Longitude magazine. He received degrees at Luiss Guido Carli in Rome (LLB), New York University (LLM), and Columbia University (JD).