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July 6, 2015 / 19 Tammuz, 5775
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Hispanic Americans, Israel, and the Jewish People

Many Hispanic Americans carry Jewish DNA.
mex-amer-boy-pic

Photo Credit: edwardretta.com

According to a poll conducted by the Israel Project, 48 percent of Hispanic Americans support the State of Israel, while only 9 percent support the Palestinians. Similarly, 44 percent of Hispanic Americans believe that the US should support Israel, while only 6 percent say that the US should support the Palestinians. Thus, Hispanic Americans have a positive perception of Israel by a three to one margin. The Israel Project claims that their top three reasons for supporting Israel are the Iranian nuclear threat (22 percent), a belief that Israel is America’s most important ally (17 percent), and the shared struggle against terrorism (17 percent). In fact, 63 percent of Hispanic Americans believe that the Iranian nuclear threat is gigantic, outranking their fear of the Arab Spring, Islamic extremism, and a variety of other potential national security issues.

Hispanic-poll

Yet, Hispanic Americans are not just supportive of Israel. They also have a positive perception of the Jewish people in general. For example, 78 percent of Hispanic Americans believe that Jews have a strong commitment to family life, a trait which is very important in familial societies. Two thirds of Hispanic Americans think that Jews have a strong religious faith; 61 percent believe that American Jews make a strong contribution to American society; and 53 percent proclaim that they think that Jews support civil rights.

Furthermore, many Hispanic Americans carry Jewish DNA. A 2003 genetic test of men living in New Mexico, Southern Texas and Northern Mexico claims that about 10 to 15 percent of Hispanics living there might have had Sephardic Jewish ancestors. Attesting to this claim, a friend of this author that grew up in Texas who is of Hispanic origin claimed that her grandmother’s church in Mexico had Jewish symbols hidden inside. Indeed, people with Hispanic family names such as Alvarez, Lopez, and Mendez have found that they have Sephardic Jewish ancestors that were forcefully converted to Catholicism during the times of the Spanish Inquisition. All of this shared history serves as the basis for the Hispanic-Jewish friendship.

On top of that, the Hispanic and Jewish immigrant experiences in America are similar in the sense that both peoples often struggled to come to America legally. Over the last two hundred years, many Jews were forced to immigrate to the United States illegally due to the various persecutions that they experienced yet the difficult immigration quotas that existed in the US. One such group of illegal Jewish immigrants was the passengers of a ship called the St. Louis, containing nearly 1,000 Jewish refugees from Hamburg who sought to immigrate to the New World to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. After both the United States and Cuba refused to accept the passengers on the St. Louis ship, these Jewish refugees from Hamburg were forced to go back to Europe, where most of them perished in the Holocaust. Thus, Jewish people can relate to another minority group that is seeking better opportunities or fleeing difficult conditions in their home country in order to improve their life.

Edward Retta, who partook on an American Jewish Committee sponsored program for Hispanic leaders, declared, “We share many common things such as, the experience of being minorities, the idea of wandering and displacement, the search for belonging, the desires for better, more secure lives, and success and stability for our children and our children’s children.” As Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz wrote, “We should stand with all minorities seeking to be treated with basic human decency. This is our covenant. This is the dream: that all people may live freely in the world. May we as the Jewish people continue to act as global and local leaders building bridges and standing in solidarity with all minority partners for a more just, equitable, and free world.”

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About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel's Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media."

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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8 Responses to “Hispanic Americans, Israel, and the Jewish People”

  1. Joseph Sanchez says:

    THE NUMBER ONE FACTOR THAT UNITES US IS GOD, your vision is our vision!

  2. Ahron Ebert says:

    In the fifties till recent times Hispanics terroized the Jews. In Williamsburg they robbed and attacked Jews. Jews were murderded by them I was attacked by a gang of 5 on a subway train erev yom kippuer. My parents in the 1950's were held up at knife point by hispanices. Is it safe to walk in the non Jewish area of Washington Hts? I don't know where this auther got her data from but facts on the ground speak differently.

  3. Ahron Ebert says:

    In the fifties till recent times Hispanics terroized the Jews. In Williamsburg they robbed and attacked Jews. Jews were murderded by them I was attacked by a gang of 5 on a subway train erev yom kippuer. My parents in the 1950's were held up at knife point by hispanices. Is it safe to walk in the non Jewish area of Washington Hts? I don't know where this auther got her data from but facts on the ground speak differently.

  4. Zenida Washington says:

    Ahron Ebert–There are good and bad Mexicans or Hispanic as there are bad and good Jews. Just look at Israel Keys and Yona Metzger the Israel's chief rabbi. You guys cannot even get along with the Palestinians. Is it safe for Palestinians to walk in Jewish Israeli neighborhoods? Know that if it turns out that Hispanics as you call them have Jewish DNA it not because of your group but rather because of the original Jews.

  5. John Doeman says:

    gods are created in the imaginations of man.

  6. Barbara1959 says:

    History tells the Jews were kicked out of Spain in 1492.
    Many came to the New World.
    Argentina has a large Jewish population.
    Mexico Brazil many Latin American countries have Hispanics with Jewish DNA.
    Any student of history knows this.
    Jesus was a Jew was betrayed by another Jew Judas. Israel fight against Israel the Old Testament teaches this.
    They got in a big fight in the 12 tribes broke up.
    Juden Benjamin went one way or the other tribes went the other.
    Paul the great apostle wanted to go to Spain.
    Spain not England.
    Why because probably he knew they were many Jews there.
    Paul also said that He is not a Jew who is one outwardly.
    To be a born again Christian is to be a real Jew.

  7. Barbara Olguin says:

    The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.
    Many of them came to central and South America.
    God said in the Bible he would scatter his people among the nations. He said he would sift them as wheat among the nations Paul the Apostle wanted to go to Spain. This speaks volumes. Jews are not white theyre ethnic.
    Paul longed to go only to Spain.
    Why because I was a large Jewish population there.
    Jews fight themselves as we can see in the Bible.
    the twelve tribes of Israel split up and it wasn't because they were getting along. They were fighting among themselves. Judah and Benjamin went one way. the other tribes went the other way.
    Jesus was a Jew Betrayed by another Jew Judas.
    Peter the Great apostle turned on Jesus. Peter was a Jew.
    they fought among themselves.
    Paul said he is not a Jew Who is one outwardly.
    God wants circumcision of the heart.
    Yes many Jews have Jewish.
    Many Hispanics have Jewish DNA.
    They have to.
    their last names ending it ez…. means the son of.
    From the land of Israel.

    of course many Hispanics have Jewish blood.
    they have to. Mexico has jews so does Brazil Argentina

  8. Barbara Olguin says:

    Forgive mistakes in my post I'm talking into my phoneto my phone

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