Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

SS Costume Incident Shocks Italian Jews

Awarded for wearing an SS uniform during Halloween. In a recent incident at the English International School of Padua’s Halloween celebration, a student garnered attention for donning a Wehrmacht uniform complete with a Nazi swastika. The controversial choice earned him the title of ‘best costume of the evening,’ sparking a wave of concern among parents and students alike.

Alarmed by the display, parents promptly addressed the matter, forwarding emails to both the school administration and the local Jewish community. Dario Calimani, president of the Jewish community of Venice, and Gianni Parenzo, president of the Jewish community of Padua, expressed their profound dismay, emphasizing the gravity of such behavior within an educational institution. Their joint missive underscored the inadvertent validation of a distressing message inherent in the attire’s historical context.

Fortunately, the school promptly took action, issuing a letter of apology to parents, asserting that the gravity of the situation had not been immediately evident. The missive made clear that the school neither condoned nor intended to endorse any offensive symbology.

Gianni Parenzo, however, contends that the incident warrants deeper contemplation. He urges the school to engage in a substantive dialogue, involving representatives from various affected communities, including the Jewish community, as well as groups targeted by the Nazi regime such as homosexuals, Sinti, and the differently-abled.

The school claimed to be committed to fostering an environment of inclusivity, tolerance, and respect for all cultural and religious backgrounds, and remains resolute in its commitment to rectify such misjudgments, an official note states.

Principal and administrators have assured the affected family of their dedication to imposing more stringent controls at future school events, underscoring their commitment to learning from this unfortunate incident.

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).
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