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July 31, 2014

Anti-Semitism in Spain

Over the past week, anti-Semitism has come to the forefront in Spain with three significant events.

Antonio Gala, a leading columnist for El Mundo, a major Spanish daily newspaper, wrote on July 24 that Israel’s military operation in Gaza showed why Jews “have been so frequently expelled.”  He continued, “What is surprising is they persist.  Either they are not good, or someone is poisoning them.”

At an anti-Israel rally in Ceuta, Spain, a speaker made blatantly anti-Semitic comments and threats against Jews.  The demonstration was held last Friday afternoon at 7pm, just 50 yards from the Ceuta synagogue, which felt compelled to cancel Shabbat services.  The speaker said, “The Jews, for decades, for thousands of years, have wanted to exterminate the prophets and everyone on the face of the Earth who is not a Hebrew.  Muslim brothers, Allah-hu akbar!  In the Torah of the Jews, it says that they are the chosen people, that they are the chosen people.  I swear to G-d that we will put fear into you until Judgment Day.  Allah-hu akbar! Allah-hu akbar! Allah-hu akbar!”  Though several local politicians were in attendance, none appear to have voiced any condemnation.

The cumulative effect of incidents such as these has caused anguish in the Spanish Jewish community.

The former president of the Federation of Spanish Jewish Communities, Jacobo Israel Garzon, wrote about his disillusionment with Spanish society in a July 29 op-ed in another major newspaper, ABC.  In an emotional article, entitled, “Disappointment and Sadness,” he laments the anti-Semitism he sees in Spain and ponders whether Jews in Germany felt the same in the 1930s.  He asks himself how he could have been so blind, having studied in Spain, married in Spain, raised children and welcomed grandchildren in Spain, worked all his life in Spain, considered Spanish his language and Spain his country, and yet, after seventy years, to not have seen how many of his neighbors and countrymen judge him – and hate him – for who he is and not for what he does.

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