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June 12, 2015 6:40 pm

Head of Spanish Jewish Federation Hopes Emerging Citizenship Law Will be ‘Antidote Against Prejudice’

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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The Spanish flag. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Spanish flag. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities welcomed on Friday the lower parliament’s passing of a motion to allow the descendants of Jews who were exiled in 1492 to claim Spanish citizenship.

“We hope that Jewish life will be considered normal in Spanish society, which will act as an antidote against prejudice and stereotypes,” wrote federation president Isaac Querub Caro, in an op-ed for the Spanish newspaper El Pais on Thursday.

He said that many communities of Sephardi Jews — Jews who resettled following the 1492 Inquisition but kept many traditions from their religious and cultural practices in Spain — are awaiting the final passing of this law with “emotional expectation.”

The federation said it had already received over 5,000 submitted requests for information on the law, which could benefit millions of Sephardi Jews in many Latin American countries, the United States, Israel, Turkey and elsewhere.

The Spanish Jewish community today stands at just around 40,000 people of Spain’s mostly Catholic 47-million-person population. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s Global Index in 2014, nearly one-third of Spaniards harbored antisemitic attitudes and beliefs, which was higher than Western Europe’s 24-percent average.

The law, if passed, will allow Jews claiming Sephardi descent to apply for Spanish citizenship as early as October, the Associated Press reported. Then, applicants would have a three year period to complete the application process, including providing the necessary proofs.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanual Nahshon praised the development, and said Spain was working to “fulfill its historic duty” to the Jews who were exiled from Spain.

Unlike neighboring Portugal’s repatriation law, the Spanish bill was amended to include more stringent criteria, such as passing a culture, history and language test, though Spain has four official languages.

Critics of the law question whether the Spanish government will use Castilian Spanish to test those seeking citizenship, given the other languages of Spain, including Catalan and Basque. University of Washington Professor Ana Gomez-Bravo, whose specialty is Spanish Jews of the Middle Ages, noted that the Jews who were exiled from Spain may not have spoken Castilian, and the language most commonly associated with Sephardi Jews is Ladino, a composite of mostly Old Spanish, Hebrew and other languages of medieval Spain. She called the possible Castilian test “linguistic politics.”

Sephardi Jews who receive citizenship will get full Spanish rights, including the ability to work in any member of the 28-nation EU.

According to the Guardian, a group representing the Moroccan community of Moriscos, Muslims who were expelled from Spain shortly after the expulsion of Jews as Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand continued to ethnically cleanse the Iberian peninsula, sent a letter to the current Spanish king demanding a similar law be issued for the exiled Muslim community.

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  • Guillermo Galindo

    Lech L’cha “Ir por si mismo”. L’chi Lach. Tal como D-o dijo a Abram “No importa a donde guie el sendero seras bendecido, guiado, y amado en tu jornada”. Si, hemos existido, y estamos en Mitzrayim pero en camino a libertad. Hashem es nuestra libertad y a pesar de milenias de opresion aqui estamos y seguiremos en acordo a sus irretractables promesas. Baruj ata Adonai Eloheinu MELEJ aolam.

  • Eric R.

    Seriously, what is wrong with Algemeiner?

    More tha 48 hours after this was posted, not a single of the eight comments merited being shown?

    On the Ireland thread — only 20 or so posts to comments are shown after three days when there are almost 70 mentioned?

    What is the problem?

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    You’re kidding, right?

  • Graciela

    To me all this is highly suspicious and looks like an antisemitic plan motivated by envy and hatred.

    Antisemitic Spain must truly be in very dire straits to suddenly remember the innocent Jews they robbed, threw out, tortured, and murdered with impunity 500 years ago. Not for nothing did our rabbis put a HEREM on Spain.

    Now they want to use the Jews again to help redress their chronically ailing economy.
    They are simply envious of the Jews and Israel, the “start-up” nation, and want to use this “nationality” gimmick to attract some of this Jewish innovation drive and business acumen to Spain.

    They boycott us wherever and whenever they can but at the same time want to profit from our competencies and capacities.
    Isn’t that just typical of antisemitic hatred and envy?

    Long live Israel! Am Israel Hai veKayam!

  • len

    Just another example of too little too late , maybe its Spain’s way of helping to solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue . If in the past Jews had nowhere to go but Palestine/Israel, now lets give them an alternative to come back “home” to Spain . Only problem is you really have to address the Morisco problem too. Maybe this a plan to legally open the gates of Spain to masses of Muslims who will certainly take the Spanish up on the invitation . Just another recipe for disaster , where is Charlemagne when we need him?Ultimately the Sephardic community should tell Spain thank you, but no thank you . The Jews have returned to their real homeland, Eretz Israel and there’s no need to go back to any foreign countries any more even if it was a temporary home for a while . Forget these useless actions and do something significant for your past wrongs, Support the State of Israel , denounce Boycotts , U.N. sanctions and actions and force the Palestinians to come to the Peace Table with a real desire to compromise and Spain will have made up for a troubled past.

  • Smart Rufus

    Latin America is still home to hundreds of thousands of still practicing Sephardi Jews. There are many millions of descendants of Jews that after arrival converted to Christianity through assimilation or intermarriage. I wonder if the later non practicing Jews will qualify under the new Spanish citizenship law.

  • steven L

    Delusions run high among those Jews who wish to recover Spanish citizenship. There isn’t enough antisemitism like this in the EU; we need to add fuel to fire! This will be one more reason for Muslims to increase their attacks on Jews.

  • Don Deigo de la Goldberg

    1) Gee, I can hardly wait

    2) Spain’s got more than enough muslims already
    and besides that, they poison the wells.

  • glenda urmacher

    I would like to know more about regaining Spanish citizenship.
    My mother and maternal grandparents were fromBuenos Aires, Argentina, and Spanish was their native language.
    I would like to know the process for gaining citizenship although I have forgotten the language of my maternal family.

  • Eric R.

    Why would any Jew in their right mind move to a country where they hate Jews as much as the Arabs do?

    • Julie Pai

      For EU citizenship. That’s why.