The surprising news from Spain announce that the country is considering to re-invite its long lost Jewish community to the country by granting citizenship to those who will prove ancient roots in Spain. The mass deportation of Jews occurred in the times of the Spanish inquisition, who aimed mainly to clear Spain of all religious minorities and create a fully Catholic Christian society.
Beyond the curiosity as to why do this (at all, or now), the response this suggestion has from the Jewish side is almost as astonishing as the proposal, while many Israelis are happy to explore the possibility of having another passport some Rabbis already published strong opinions against embracing a Spanish citizenship. It is reported that Rabbi Aviner has a very simple reason for denying the Spanish gesture, “Jews should never forgive the Spanish for the inquisition and accepting the passport will be interpreted as a sign of forgiveness”.
But who is Rabbi Aviner actually angry with? People who lived (and died) 500 years ago? is he going to look for Torquemada’s descendants and let them know he is upset with their long dead – and whom had absolutely no influence of any kind – forefather?, this is a philosophical question, however it should be clear to anyone living today that having issues with actions and resolutions that are centuries old are not relevant to any living person today. Furthermore, letting go of this grudge risks yet another destabilization in the form and shape of the modern Jewish identity which is structured around the terrible things done to these people during the 2,000 years of Christian bigotry and proudly followed by the Muslim world, in other words forgiveness and acceptance are the biggest dangers that this Rabbi has in keeping his flock nearby.
Back to the Spanish, why would they do this right now?, well the reasonable answer is to right the wrong, to patch a significant period in its history and apologize for the victims of its actions. But seriously, Spain and Israel has good relations, as well as Jewish communities all over the world with Spain, so there is no issue here. Promotion the pluralist and tolerant Spanish culture was another reason, however anyone who visited Spain in the last 10 years knows the huge number of immigrants in its cities, Spain is one of the biggest immigration countries in the world.
The last possible reason, which is no doubt the most cynical one, is the financial crisis in the country, which is so dramatic and deep experts estimated a whole generation will live under it for most of its lifetime, is causing native Spanish to leave their country in search for a better life, an injection of a new type of population which Spain has not had for hundreds of years might just turn this thing around, however try and convince someone to move into a country he has no connection with only because 500 years ago an ancient ancestor might have lived there…
All of this reminds us of a great speech the wonderful Christopher Hitchens made, in which he mentions, naming one after the other, countries that forced its Jews to leave (or killed them) and eventually that country lost its power.