Giovanni Giacalone
Eyes everywhere

Israeli student ‘warned’ by the Italian police for carrying Israeli flag

The flag carried by Jasmine Kolodro in the street of Padua (screenshot taken from amatorial video shown on I24 News)

On Sunday, March 24th, Israeli veterinary student Jasmine Kolodro stood on the street, wrapped in an Israeli flag, next to a pro-Palestinian demonstration in the city of Padua. After a few minutes, the demonstrators began to verbally attack and insult her, calling her “a Nazi” and “a murderer.” The scene, together with Jasmine’s interview, can be viewed on !24News.

Jasmine’s action was not provocative; she did not mean to challenge anyone but rather show a different view, as she stated in the interview: “You see Palestinian flags all over the world, everywhere, and that’s ok, but once someone takes the Israeli flag, that’s a provocation, and actually, they called me from the police station two days later…”

Yes. Incredibly, Jasmine was asked to show up at the police station because the authorities “had to make clear of what happened the previous Sunday.”

Jasime went with her lawyer and they were told that she should have asked for permission from the police to go to the street with the Israeli flag because it was “a provocative action.”

Yes. That’s right. As explained by Jasmine, according to what the Italian police told her, standing on the street with her flag constituted a provocation. Additionally, they also told her that the next time she did that, it would be considered a felony.

The interviewer justly points out: “I wonder what kind of warning was issued to the people who called you a murderer and threatened you and swore at you”.

Jasmine replied: “I asked, but nobody looked at me when I said that; they didn’t even want to see the full video”. The Israeli student now fears that the Italian authorities will not renew her student visa and she won’t be able to finish her studies. She is being assisted by her lawyers.

We called the central police station (the Questura) in Padua to hear their side of the story, but we were first told that we would be called back; after a few hours we called again and we were told that there was nobody we could speak to and to send an email to the generic address provided on the Questura’s website. Up until today, no answer was provided.

Jssmine Kolodro’s story somehow reminds the case of 25-year-old Italian citizen Mihael Melnic who received a visit from Milan’s plainclothes police a few minutes after exposing the cardboard sign “Free Gaza from Hamas” from the window of his apartment, while underneath a non-authorized pro-Palestinian (or should we say “anti-Israeli?) demonstration was taking place. The fact occurred on January 27th 2024, Holocaust Memorial Day.

As soon as Mihael showed the sign, the demonstrators started to insult him and yell threats such as “Come down if you dare” and “Now we know where you live”.

When, shortly after, Mihael heard strong blows against his door, he thought that demonstrators were outside trying to get into his apartment, and he called the police. However, he was told that it was the police that was banging at the door.

As Mihael explained in an interview with The Times of Israel, published on February 3, 2024:

“… I was showing the sign and after about 5 minutes I heard the door being violently hit, it sounded like kicks or punches, I don’t know. Then they tried to open the handle. I immediately thought they were protesters who wanted to attack me and I called the police. However, it emerged that it was the plainclothes police who were trying to enter.

At that point, I opened the door and the police immediately entered, without invitation.

We had a conversation of about 15 minutes which ended in a cordial manner. In any case, I won’t deny that the initial approach was rather aggressive and intimidating. The agents tried to take away the anti-Hamas sign from me, but I didn’t give it to them because it belonged to me. They also identified me and asked me a lot of questions.

We debated the legality of my gesture and I said that my gesture was within the limits of the freedoms we have.

And again:

“… it was a confrontation that ended cordially but was very aggressive and intimidating at the beginning. When they came in, they did not ask for explanations but started shouting that I was doing something wrong. I had to explain to them that I could do it, that there was nothing wrong with it. They tried to tell me I couldn’t do it but I made them understand that yes, I could.

Strangely enough, on that same day, the Palestinian leader of the Association of Palestinians in Italy, Mohammed Hannoun, had been speaking microphone in hand at that non-authorized demonstration.

On Saturday March 30th 2024, during a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside Milan’s Central Station, Hannoun concluded his speech by saying:

I conclude, with applause to the Jordanian people, to the rebels in Jordan who forced the system to close the Israeli embassy. We call on all Arab people to do the same, to drive out all Israeli embassies, close them and turn them into centers for resistance. An applause for the resistance of Yemen, an applause for the resistance of Lebanon, of Iraq…”.

Hannoun is already well-known in Italy for claiming, three days after the October 7th massacre, that the act was “self-defense” and for praising Hamas bombmaker Yahya Ayyash and Salah al-Arouri (former Hamas leader in Lebanon and liaison between the Palestinian terrorist organization and the Iranian regime).

On Sunday, March 31st, Fratelli d’Italia’s Senator, Giulio Terzi, who is also a former Italian ambassador to Israel, the UN. and the United States and former Italian Foreign Minister from 2011 to 2013 posted a tweet citing the article published by the Times of Israel regarding Hannoun’s speech on March 30th. Senator Terzi defined Hannoun’s conduct as unacceptable and  added that these facts have been reported for some time now and require a firm follow-up.

This whole situation has been going on for several months now and appears very unclear.

Indeed, it is not clear why an Israeli student should be called to the police station and warned of legal consequences for standing on the street with her own flag (while pro-Palestinian demonstrators can take the street and insult her); or why a boy who displays a sign in favor of Gaza and against Hamas (a terrorist organization on the EU black list) should receive the immediate visit by plainclothes officers who try to seize his sign and identify him (inside his property ), while Hannoun has been free to move forward with his hate campaign for months. For what reason?

Having reached this point, explanations are needed, and very transparent ones.

About the Author
Giovanni Giacalone is a senior analyst in Islamist extremism and terrorism at the Italian Team for Security, Terroristic Issues and Managing Emergencies-Catholic University of Milan, at the Europe desk for the UK-based think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism, and a researcher for Centro Studi Machiavelli. Since 2021 he is the coordinator for the "Latin America group" at the International Institute for the Study of Security-ITSS. In 2023 Giacalone published the book “The Tablighi Jamaat in Europe”.
Related Topics
Related Posts