Sunday, February 01, 2009

J'accuse


"Il faut cultiver son jardin. -- One just needs to cultivate one's own garden" (Voltaire)


Read this first:

Israel reacted furiously to a decision by a Spanish judge on Thursday to open a probe of seven former top security officials for alleged war crimes in the 2002 bombing in Gaza that killed top Hamas terrorist Salah Shehadeh as well as 14 other people and is considering appealing the move.

The investigation has been ordered against National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who was defense minister at the time; Likud Knesset candidate Moshe Ya'alon, who was chief of General Staff; Dan Halutz, then commander of the air force; Doron Almog, who was OC Southern Command; then-National Security Council head Giora Eiland; the defense minister's military secretary, Mike Herzog; and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, who was head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency)...

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And then this:

Religion permeated every nook and cranny of Spanish medieval life. Jews were its most natural victims, at the epicenter of religious fervor when rioting mobs were let loose among them. In this kind of atmosphere, never safe and always seething with anti-Jewish animus, Jews became increasingly exhausted and demoralized, both spiritually and pragmatically, leading to the mass conversion of the Jews between 1391 and 1492. Amid the murderous mass rioting of 1391 tens of thousands of Jews who faced militant priests and direct threats to their life and property, opted for conversion (see fn1). The next stage was the establishment of the Inquisition in1482, with its specific mandate to excise from the Church the heretic conversos who were still secretly engaged in Judaizing. Ten years later, the final episode in this drama saw the edict of expulsion of the remaining Jews from Spain, a measure that was calculated at severing once and for all any ties between Judaism and the vulnerable New Christians. The expulsion of the Jews was a traumatic event that sent shock waves throughout European Jewry as well as Christendom. The toll of that disastrous century came to this: a third of the entire Iberian Jewish population were exterminated in riots, another third accepted Christianity, and the last third, the remaining Jews, were expelled in 1492 (see fn2).


1. Melamed, Renee Levine, “Heretics or Daughters of Israel?” pp 3-4 : This trend came at the conclusion of a thirteen year long campaign, begun at 1378 by Ferrant Martinez, Archdean of Eciza. His sermons promoting the destruction of synagogues and the forcible ghettoizing of Jews led to successive attacks on Jewish communities. Many Jews were slaughtered or sold as slaves, Most chose to convert.

2. Melamed, p. 4


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And finally, read this letter written by Mano, who occasionally contributes a guest post on my blog:

An open letter to the Spanish government

and the Spanish people



We heard recently of that a Spanish judge, Fernando Andreu, started a litigation against seven Israelis for the target killing of top Hamas terrorist Salah Shehadeh, allegedly causing the death of fourteen innocent civilian by-standers.


As a child I spoke Ladino with my parents, the ancient Jewish-Spanish language they inherited from their ancestors, since at the time their Hebrew was not good enough. To date, they still speak Ladino among themselves. I see myself, like many other Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora, as a direct descendant of the Jews expelled from Spain.


Let me remind the honorable judge and the Spanish government of a few misdeeds in the past by what were then the Spanish national entity, the Spanish “judicial system” and the people of Spain. We never heard a formal apology of the Spanish government, or King, for historically recorded horrific Spanish crimes against the Jewish people.


I accuse the Spanish government and the Spanish people of expelling hundreds of thousands of Jews, among them my ancestors, from Spain in 1492.


I accuse the Spanish government and the Spanish people of confiscating the property of the hundreds of thousands of expelled Jews.


I accuse the Spanish government and the Spanish people of perpetrating crimes against humanity when they forced thousands of Jews to convert, on pain of death, and forbad them from exercising their customs and their religion and from maintaining their relationships with their former co-religionists.


I accuse the Spanish government and the Spanish people of torturing, burning, murdering tens of thousands of conversos in the dark cellars of the Spanish Inquisition.


While the Jews in Spain never posed any physical or otherwise existential threat to the Spanish people or its secular and religious regimes, were not terrorists setting bombs and killing Spaniards, Sheadeh was a terrorist. His death was merited not just as punishment for what he had committed, but also as a way of preventing him from killing and training others to target and kill, more Jewish Israeli innocents. It is a tragedy that innocent people were also hurt. I personally regret any death, injury or loss of property caused to innocent, uninvolved bystanders in this ugly war. However, the deliberate and pre-meditated hurting of innocent bystanders is not the purpose or intention of the Israeli government.


To the honorable judge I say:


First see that justice is done by your own people for the crimes they committed against Spanish Jews before taking any issue with the Israelis who bear responsibility to protect their fellow citizens from another catastrophe, like the one inflicted upon my ancestors by your ancestors, some 500 years ago. Then, and only then, will you have the moral right to judge the Jewish State.


_______________



Update: A comment to this post opened another, little-known fact which I was not aware of about Spanish Justice priorities. i looked it up and found this account:



"Spain has been a haven for Nazi war criminals since the end of World War II in 1945, when many were drawn here by the protection offered by the government of Francisco Franco, according to scholars of the issue.

Even after Franco died in 1975 and democracy was established, Spain's elected governments did little to cooperate with international searches for war criminals, these scholars say.

José María Irujo, author of "The Black List," a book about Nazis who fled to Spain, said in an interview that whole colonies of them lived here undisturbed for decades."

One wonders why the total neglect to pursue justice, even after the Franco era. According to this historian, whom I quoted in an earlier post, "It is estimated that almost 20% of all the volunteers in the International Brigades, who came to Spain to fight Fascism were Jews.".

Why are Spaniards so ignorant of their history? Why are they so hypocritical and self-serving? Have they no shame?


3 Comments:

At 11:02 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Spanish contribution to the advancement of justice continues to be deficient.

Apart from the judicial atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition and the Phalangists' mass executions, we should remember that after WW2 Spain harboured many Nazi war criminals who had carried out mass murder against the Jews of Europe. None were ever prosecuted by any Spanish court.

Since Spain is today led by Prime Minister Zapatero, who has expressed understanding for the perpetrators of the Holocaust, the latest developments should surprise noone.

But why are Israel's leaders meeting with Zapatero and Moratinos, as they did less than a month ago, instead of boycotting them?

 
At 6:49 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Spain has been a haven for Nazi war criminals since the end of World War II in 1945, when many were drawn here by the protection offered by the government of Francisco Franco, according to scholars of the issue.

Even after Franco died in 1975 and democracy was established, Spain's elected governments did little to cooperate with international searches for war criminals, these scholars say.

José María Irujo, author of "The Black List," a book about Nazis who fled to Spain, said in an interview that whole colonies of them lived here undisturbed for decades.

"Many lived out their lives here and died peacefully," he said.

"We are talking about hundreds of people," he said. "Spanish governments never did anything."

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/10/26/news/nazi.php

 
At 5:47 PM EST, Anonymous TNC said...

People think of Spain as a Western European country with Western European sensibilities and in many cases it is. But these same people often forget that Spain has a long history of authoritarian rule. For a long time, the study of history was viewed as subversive unless the historian parroted the official narrative. In this context subversion meant jail-time or worse.

It is not like being a subversive academic in the U.S., Israel, the UK and Canada where a subversive perspective can get you a raise, prestige and tenure.

 

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