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.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at New York Times

More about: Sephardim, Spain, Spanish Expulsion

 

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror