Spain Rediscovers Its Jewish and Anti-Semitic Roots

The Sunday New York Times ran a story on November 5 about how it is now socially acceptable among Spaniards to uncover the Jewish heritage that Spain forcibly purged and took great pains to eradicate for 500 years.

"Now it’s trendy to have Jewish roots," according to Javier Castano, who is an expert on Spain’s Jewish history at the Higher Council for Scientific Research in Madrid.  The full article is worth reading (click here).

I enjoyed my own experience traveling in Spain and exploring its Jewish and Muslim past in the summer of 2005 with my family.

It is unfortunate that today deep anti-Semitism continues to scar Spain. The New York Times reporter, Renwick McLean, also makes this point in quoting Jacobo Israel Garzon, president of the Federation of Jewish communities in Spain:

"A contradictory element in all this is that a new anti-Semitism is also developing in Spain.  It uses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as its source, but it passes very quickly from anti-Israelism to anti-Semitism."

The expulsion of the Muslims and Jews from Spain in 1492 effectively gutted the country of its intelligentsia and economic engine, a socio-economic trauma from which Spain has, in effect, never emerged.

A demographic footnote: the article tallies the Jewish population in Spain at 40,000 – 50,000, which overstates the most recent demographic source data that I have published elsewhere in this blog.  According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, the most recent census data available on their site is from 2002, which estimates the total Jewish population in Spain at 12,000. I doubt it has increased materially since that time, unless, of course, this trendiness is leading to a wave of Jews declaring a new Spanish aliyah.

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