Breaking neutrality, Spanish Jews come out against Catalan independence
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'As Spanish Jews we wholly support the Spanish Constitution'

Breaking neutrality, Spanish Jews come out against Catalan independence

Despite umbrella body statement, Jews living in the secessionist region appear divided over the crisis that is roiling the country

  • People gather to celebrate the proclamation of a Catalan republic at the Sant Jaume square in Barcelona on October 27, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA)
    People gather to celebrate the proclamation of a Catalan republic at the Sant Jaume square in Barcelona on October 27, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA)
  • Catalan president Carles Puigdemont casts his vote for a motion on declaring independence from Spain, during a session of the Catalan parliament in Barcelona on October 27, 2017.  (AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE)
    Catalan president Carles Puigdemont casts his vote for a motion on declaring independence from Spain, during a session of the Catalan parliament in Barcelona on October 27, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE)
  • People gather in front of the 'Generalitat' palace (Catalan government headquarters) at the Sant Jaume square to celebrate the proclamation of a Catalan republic in Barcelona on October 27, 2017  (AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA)
    People gather in front of the 'Generalitat' palace (Catalan government headquarters) at the Sant Jaume square to celebrate the proclamation of a Catalan republic in Barcelona on October 27, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA)
  • Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gives a press conference after a cabinet meeting at La Moncloa Palace in Madrid, on October 27, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO)
    Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gives a press conference after a cabinet meeting at La Moncloa Palace in Madrid, on October 27, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO)
  • People gather in front of the 'Generalitat' palace (Catalan government headquarters) at the Sant Jaume square to celebrate the proclamation of a Catalan republic in Barcelona on October 27, 2017. (Lluis Gene/AFP)
    People gather in front of the 'Generalitat' palace (Catalan government headquarters) at the Sant Jaume square to celebrate the proclamation of a Catalan republic in Barcelona on October 27, 2017. (Lluis Gene/AFP)
  • People celebrate after Catalonia's parliament voted to declare independence from Spain on October 27, 2017 in Barcelona. ( AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU)
    People celebrate after Catalonia's parliament voted to declare independence from Spain on October 27, 2017 in Barcelona. ( AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU)
  • People celebrate after Catalonia's parliament voted to declare independence from Spain in Barcelona on October 27, 2017. (Pau Barrena/AFP)
    People celebrate after Catalonia's parliament voted to declare independence from Spain in Barcelona on October 27, 2017. (Pau Barrena/AFP)

Breaking with its policy of neutrality on Catalan independence, the main umbrella group of Spanish Jews on Friday blamed separatists for the kingdom’s crisis and declared allegiance to the constitution.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, or FCJE, did this in a statement released hours after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare independence from Spain, as Madrid vowed in turn to “restore legality” and quash the region’s secessionist bid.

Expressing “deep concern over the grave national crisis,” the statement by the federation went on to state this crisis was “caused by the unilateral declaration of independence” of the regional government of Catalonia through its parliament.

”As Spanish Jews we wholly support the Spanish Constitution, the rule of law as applied in accordance with the law, solidarity and equality between all Spanish people and the unity of Spain,” read the statement. Authorities will “restore normalcy in Catalonia,” continued the anti-secessionist statement, “and throughout all of Spain, and that, finally, fraternity and peaceful coexistence as Spanish citizens.”

The Madrid-based federation’s statement notwithstanding, the Jews of Catalonia, who, according to the European Jewish Congress make up a third of Spain total Jewish population of 45,000, are deeply divided on the issue of independence, according to Victor Sorenssen, the leader of the Jewish community of Barcelona, which is the capital of Catalonia.

Barcelona Jewish Community Spokesperson Victor Sorrenssen ( Screen Capture/ YouTube)

“This is a political matter that doesn’t directly concern Judaism, so the community has no position on it as such,” Sorenssen said earlier this month of the organization representing Barcelona’s Jews.

Jews of Catalonia, an anti-secessionist group, on Friday lauded the Madrid-based federation for its “important” message, as they called it on Twitter.

“The only representative organ of Jews in all of Spain has some out in favor of unity and against separatism,” the tweet read. “Kol HaKavod FCJE! The separatists represent only themselves.”

But a spokesperson for the pro-independence group “Jews for Independence” told JTA the FCJE does not represents the various opinions of Jews in Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain on this issue.

“We welcome the birth of our Catalonian Republic. It is no longer a dream,” the spokesperson said.

The motion declaring independence was approved with 70 votes in favor, 10 against and two abstentions, a result that caused Spanish shares and stock to fall sharply internationally, the Agence-Presse France reported.

Shortly before the Catalan vote, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged lawmakers in the federal parliament to give him the power to dismiss Catalonia’s secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont, his deputy and all regional ministers.

If approved, the measures under Article 155 of the constitution, designed to rein in rebels among Spain’s 17 regions, would enter into force on Saturday.

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