The Spanish Inquisition, Part Two
from Pressure Points

The Spanish Inquisition, Part Two

Spain, a country where antisemitic attitudes are the highest in Western Europe, is taking the lead in trying to deprive Israel of the arms it needs to defend itself.

The effort to deny Israel the weapons it needs to defend itself from attacks by Hamas and other terrorist group—all backed by Iran—is spreading. And yesterday Spain took a further step: not simply refusing to sell arms to Israel but preventing arms from reaching there whatever their source.

EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell (who is himself Spanish, and from the governing Socialist Workers Party) has been a leader in all these efforts. In February he made his views clear:

if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people [from] being killed. Isn't it logical? In 2006, during the war against Lebanon, the United States already took this decision. They already took the decision to pause the supply of arms to Israel, because Israel did not want to stop the war. Exactly the same thing that happens today. Everyone goes to Tel-Aviv, begging: “Please, do not do that, protect civilians, do not kill so many"….if the international community believes that this is a slaughter, that too many people are being killed, maybe they have to think about the provision of arms.

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Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands have already joined Spain in stopping arms transfers to Israel.

On February 23, a group of UN “experts” warned that “Any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately.” Their statement uncritically used Hamas numbers as to how many people had been killed in Gaza, adding the Hamas propaganda detail “the majority being women and children.” Those numbers are being challenged now, as I've explained in this blog post. To read the list of “Special Rapporteurs” and "Working Groups” who signed this statement is to see once again the moral bankruptcy of the UN system. It includes the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence; the Working Group of Experts of African Descent; the Working Group on the use of mercenaries; the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing; and the Independent Expert on foreign debt. The United States pays one-third of UN expenses (contributing $18 billion in 2022), so this is our tax dollars at work.

Now, Spain has gone even further, announcing on May 17—perhaps in honor of Israel Independence Day—that it will refuse permission for any ship carrying arms to Israel to dock at a Spanish port. The first such refusal has already happened. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said:

This will be a consistent policy with any ship carrying arms to Israel that wants to call at Spanish ports. The foreign ministry will systematically reject such stopovers for one obvious reason. The Middle East does not need more weapons, it needs more peace.

Albares is an intelligent man, so this kind of insidious blather represents the political fact that the Spanish government is a coalition between the Socialists and the hard Left “Sumar” alliance. But that is no excuse for a policy whose logical end would be to leave Israel defenseless against the kind of mass murder inflicted on October 7th.

Spain is also a leader of the effort in Europe to recognize a Palestinian state, and that is not the only effort against Israel. In February, Barcelona severed its ties to its twin city, Tel Aviv. Nicely, the city council postponed its vote so that it would not occur, as scheduled, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Madrid, the famous Reina Sofia Museum, where Picasso’s Guernica painting is shown, had a program entitled “From the River to the Sea.” After protests, it was renamed “Critical Thinking Gatherings, International Solidarity With Palestine.” Oh, thanks. The museum’s web site tells of the “escalating genocide in Gaza” and supporting “the cause of the Palestinian people and their resistance against colonial practices of violence, control and apartheid brought to bear by the Israeli State in the form of daily war.”

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Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


All this makes visible and concrete the extremism of the Spanish opposition to Israel as well as Spain’s effort to push all EU countries in the same direction. Sadly, these positions cannot be separated from the remarkable levels of antisemitism that persist in Spain. Here’s what the BDP, the German Federal Agency for Civic Education, reported on that score in 2021 article on “Antisemitism in Spain:”

Spain is a country where Jews represent approximately 0.1% of the overall population, and yet there is an outsized acceptance and historically unabated indulgence of antisemitic stereotypes….opinion polls continue to reveal deeply rooted antisemitic clichés.

Comparative international survey studies conducted since the turn of the century have identified Spain as one of the countries in Western Europe in which antisemitism is the most pronounced….Spain was the non-Muslim country with the most negative views of Jews. A more recent 2018 Pew study [found that] Spain still ranked as the second country (after Portugal) in Western Europe with the highest percentage of respondents (36% and 32% respectively) agreeing with an indisputably antisemitic statement, namely that "Jews always pursue their own interests and not the interest of the country they live in". These results echo a trend shown by the ADL studies on Attitudes toward Jews and the Middle East, and the more recent ADL Global 100 Survey from 2019. While the proportion of negative and stereotyped views seems to be diminishing among Spaniards, this latter study situates Spain with an Index score of 28%, the highest percentage of tested antisemitic stereotypes among Western European countries in 2019….

"Traditional" manifestations of antisemitism, or anti-Judaism, continue to exist and occasionally appear in popular and religious culture in Spain. But the bulk of anti-Jewish expressions in public discourse rear its head predominantly in media representations of the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian conflict.

These usually take the form of criticisms, accusations and condemnations that extend above and beyond the State of Israel (its government, its institutions, representatives, etc.), depicting "the Jews" as a monolithic, homogeneous bad actor with its clutches on every inch of the globe. Cartoons have become a particularly apt vehicle to pinpoint specific "Spanish" interpretations of the conflict. During the years of the Second Intifada, throughout the Lebanon war of 2006, and the Gaza conflicts in the last decade, newspapers and magazines published a great many cartoons in which Israelis, Israel as a whole, or Jewish symbols were linked to the killing of children and to themes of vengeance and cruelty. The depictions echoed ancient anti-Jewish imagery in the Iberian Peninsula and also incorporated stereotypes of modern antisemitism such as charges of sowing disorder, the subjugation of others, and the evocations and analogies between Israelis and Nazis….

[T]he conflict in Israel feeds and paves the way for flare-ups of long-simmering prejudices where the situation is interpreted through a prism that leans heavily on anti-Jewish stereotypes….

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard Left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish antisemitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the State of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

On March 11, 2004, just over twenty years ago, Islamic terrorists detonated a series of ten bombs placed on four commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and injuring an additional 1,800. That was the worst terrorist attack in modern European history. That experience makes Spain's reaction to the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history particularly indefensible.




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