“We must not surrender to anti-Semitism, we must fight it,” President Reuven Rivlin said in Madrid on Sunday evening. “I am pleased that the Spanish government is taking steps in legislation and enforcement against this ugly phenomenon. We must not be ashamed of or hide our identity. We must not be ashamed of the connection between the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I know that there are concerns, and fears of terrorism against Jews, and of anti-Semitism which poses as criticism against Israel. We will fight these challenges together.”
President Rivlin met with leaders of Spain’s Jewish community, and took part in a special event hosted by the community at Madrid’s Centro Ibn Gabirol, which caters to some 300 students. Rivlin was hosted by president of the Jewish community of Madrid David Hatchwell, and president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE), Isaac Querub.
Rivlin unveiled a plaque to be affixed to the entrance of the school, commemorating his State Visit to Spain and marking 100 years since the reestablishment of the Jewish community in the country since the Expulsion of 1492.
“The community here today is a magnificent community, with tens of thousands of members of all ages. Jewish life on the Iberian Peninsula, which was cut off more than five hundred years ago, is now full of life, and this is a great joy. This is a great victory for history and the spirit of the Jewish people,” the Israeli President said, but noted that “according to the Spanish Interior Minister’s report on anti-Semitism, in recent years there has been a rise of hundreds of percent in manifestations of anti-Semitism in Spain.”
The President continued, “The State of Israel today operates an extensive network to combat anti-Semitism disguised as the delegitimization of Israel, to fight hatred of Jews disguised as a criticism of Israeli Government policy: these bodies are at your disposal, they are also here for you.”
The President concluded by thanking the community for their warm welcome and said, “We are brothers, let us stand together.”
Earlier, the President met with Jewish community leaders and spoke with them about the issue of rising anti-Semitism: “We are together in the war against anti-Semitism, and today we are stronger than ever.” The President went on to note that the campaign to boycott and impose sanctions on Israel was, “an expression of anti-Semitism”.
President of the FCJE, Isaac Querub, told the President of the experiences of the community living in Spain, and said that it was a difficult time with a sense that, “United Spain is under threat, as well as the fabric of coexistence, and social and economic stability in the country.” He stressed, “We need Israel, and Israel can always rely on our support.”