After Offering Citizenship to Descendants of Expelled Jews, Spain Appears to Be Having a Change of Heart

July 30 2021

In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain decreed that all their Jewish subjects—who had experienced increasing persecution during the previous hundred years—must either convert to Catholicism or go into exile. Thus ended what was then Europe’s largest, and by many metrics most prominent, Jewish community. In 2015, Spain, intent on making amends, announced that descendants of Jews who had been expelled or converted could claim Spanish citizenship. Madrid, however, has abruptly begun rejecting citizenship requests based on Sephardi ancestry. Nicholas Casey writes:

Spain’s statistics, and interviews with frustrated applicants, reveal a wave of more than 3,000 rejections in recent months, raising questions about how serious the country is about its promise. . . . Before this year, only one person had been turned down, the government said. Some 34,000 have been accepted.

At least another 17,000 people have received no response at all, according to government statistics. Many of them have waited years and spent thousands of dollars on attorney fees and trips to Spain to file paperwork.

It remains unclear why the wave of rejections has come now. Spain’s government said it was simply trying to clear out a backlog of cases. But lawyers representing applicants say they feel officials have had a change of heart on the program, which formally stopped taking applications in 2019. For applicants, it has left a sense of bewilderment and betrayal.

“For Venezuelans, it was a lifeline,” said Marcos Tulio Cabrera, the founder of the Association of Spanish-Venezuelans of Sephardic Origin, whose family of nine has received four rejections this month, with the rest still awaiting a decision. Mr. Cabrera, who lives in Valencia, Venezuela—a city crippled by economic instability and deadly gangs—said he spent nearly $53,000 to file the applications, depleting much of the family’s savings.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Sephardim, Spain, Spanish Expulsion


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria