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

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

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas