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April 18, 2023 10:06 am

Barcelona Mayor Attracts Criticism After Historic Synagogue Vandalized With ‘Free Palestine’ Grafitti

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The Maimonides Synagogue in Barcelona after it was vandalized with pro-Palestinian slogans. Photo: CIB/Twitter

The Jewish community in the Spanish city of Barcelona has blamed the anti-Israel stances of local political leaders for creating “fertile ground” for antisemitic acts such as the vandalism of the historic Maimonides Synagogue on Monday.

In a statement released on Monday, the Jewish Community of Barcelona (CIB) denounced the vandalism as an “antisemitic attack.” The vandals, identified as three men in some local news reports, painted the slogans “Free Palestine from the River to the Sea” and “Solidarity with the Palestinian People” in large red letters on the synagogue’s outer wall earlier in the day. The first slogan refers to the Palestine Liberation Organization’s goal of a single state of Palestine to replace Israel in the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan.

Noting that this slogan “has traditionally been used by Arab radicals to demand that the Jewish people living in Israel be thrown into the sea,” the CIB stated that “holding Jews in general and, in this case, the Jews of Catalonia, to be responsible for the policies of the government and the State of Israel is an obvious example of antisemitism.”

In February, Barcelona’s Mayor, Ada Colau, announced that the city was suspending ties with Israel in protest at what she termed its “apartheid” policies. In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she said that the suspension would remain in place the suspension would remain in place “until the Israeli authorities put an end to the system of violations of the Palestinian people and fully comply with the obligations imposed on them by international law and the various United Nations resolutions.”

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Colau’s decision resulted in José Luis Martínez-Almeida, the Mayor of Madrid, offering to step into the breach through a “partnership agreement” with the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

In its statement, the CIB emphasized that “the approval of a declaration in Parliament affirming Israel as a state that practices apartheid; the cancellation of the opening of the delegation of the government of Catalonia in Israel; and the breaking of the twinning between Barcelona, ​​Tel Aviv and Gaza are creating fertile ground for a latent but growing antisemitism.”

In a separate, harshly-worded statement, the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) accused Colau of being ultimately responsible for the vandalism of the synagogue.

“Every additional case of vandalism and bloodshed as a result of this unfortunate choice will be on her hands,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of the CER declared.


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