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July 1, 2016 / 25 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Portugal’

Muslims Demand Equal Terms after Spanish Law for Jewish Return

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Spanish Muslims urged their government to grant citizenship to descendants of Muslims who were expelled from Spain in addition to Jews.

The demand was made this week in a statement by the Association for Historical Legacy of Al-Andalus, the Spanish news agency EFE reported on Feb. 17.

“The Spanish state should grant the same rights to all those who were expelled, otherwise their decision is selective, if not racist,” Bayi Loubaris, the association’s president, told EFE.

The association named several families currently residing in North Africa as candidates for receiving Spanish citizenship.

Several other prominent Muslims and legal experts accused the Spanish government of pursuing a double standard following the approval on Feb. 10 of a bill proposing to naturalize descendants of Sephardic Jews, which the governments said was to atone for the expulsions 500 years ago.

Submitted by Spain’s Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, the bill is expected to go up to a vote in Spanish congress this year. Portugal already passed a law granting citizenship to descendants last year and its interior ministry is currently drafting regulations ahead of the law’s application, according to Portuguese lawmakers who submitted the bill.

The Jews were persecuted in Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition which the Catholic Church and royal houses of both countries led against non-Christians in the 15th and 16th centuries.

“Recognition of the Sephardic community is symbolic, necessary and just. The same applies to those who have kept their Andalus-Moorish identity in exile,” Manuel Antonio Rodríguez, a professor of law at the University of Cordoba, told the El Confidencial daily on Sunday.

In 2006, the United Left party in the parliament of the autonomous Spanish region of Andalusia submitted a bill which proposed recognizing the rights of descendants of Muslims who were expelled but the bill never made it to a vote.

Portuguese lawmakers who drafted the country’s law on Sephardic Jews rejected calls to naturalize the descendants of Muslims who were expelled, citing the fact that the expulsion of the Muslims was part of a war to end the occupation of Spain by North African invaders.

“Persecution of Jews was just that, while what happened with the Arabs was part of a conflict,” Jose Ribeiro e Castro, a Spanish lawmaker who drafted Portugal’s law of return, said. ”There’s no basis for comparison.”

JTA

How to Say ‘Disgusting Abuse of Public Trust’ in French?

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

When you next hear European politicians, and particularly the French, declaring their total and absolute opposition to terrorism, bear in mind this little story emanating from Paris.

An exhibition entitled “Death” (on the web here) and made up of 68 photographs created by one Ahlam Shibli, opened at the Jeu de Paume Museum of Contemporary Art in Paris on May 28. It will run until September 1. The museum is funded by France’s Ministry of Culture [source]. Shibli describes herself as “a Palestinian Bedouin photographer based in Haifa“. Translation: she is an Israeli. She was awarded the Nathan Gottesdiener Israeli Art Prize in 2003 [source].

Its website (here), according to a JTA report, describes the people in the pictures as suicide bombers, a galling name for anyone who understands the religiously-inspired hatred-rich process by which they carry out their acts of murder.

Playing the usual black-is-white games, the catalog notes say the people depicted are “those who lost their lives fighting against the occupation,” and the exhibition as being about “the efforts of Palestinian society to preserve their presence.” As far as we can tell, the idea that the people who carried out armed attacks on generally defenceless Israeli civilians are in fact terrorists who were sent by terrorist organizations and whose terrorism is celebrated by all branches of the two Palestinian Arab statelets is never mentioned.

The exhibition is a joint effort of the Jeu de Paume people as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA), and the Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Portugal.

CRIF, the umbrella body of French Jewish communities, says the the people in the pictures are drawn principally from al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which is a unit of Fatah, the political faction headed by the non-moderate Mahmoud Abbas otherwise known as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which is a unit of Hamas, and from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The European Union calls all three of them terrorist groups. But in France, Spain and Portugal, such designations are not taken seriously.

There is a deadly-serious cognitive war underway in Europe. The people who run and fund some of Europe’s publicly-funded museums are foot-soldiers in that war, though they (some of them at least) probably have no idea that’s what they are doing and would scream in protest when it’s pointed out to them. They make terrorism safe, and for this they deserve our utter scorn.

Visit This Ongoing War

Frimet and Arnold Roth

Masorti Rabbis Perform First Conversions in Lisbon

Monday, April 29th, 2013

For the first time in the history of the Masorti movement, its rabbis performed conversions to Judaism in Portugal.

The two conversions were performed in the Portuguese capital at a Beit Din rabbinical court of three judges, who recognized Juliana Fernandes da Silva and her life partner Edgard Pimentel as Jews.

Though the Masorti movement — the smallest of the three major streams of Judaism — has performed conversions of several Portuguese Jews, this was the first time that the rabbinical court convened in Portugal, according to Rabbi Chaim Weiner of London, who oversaw the proceedings of the court.

Usually European Masorti converts travel to London, he added, but this time it was decided to hold the court in Lisbon because several rabbis were already in Portugal on a month-long study trip of the country’s Jewish heritage.

Da Silva, a 26-year-old Brazilian mathematician who grew up in a Catholic home, took a ritual dip in the mikveh following the court’s decision.

Immersion in the mikveh is required as part of the conversion process, and not afterwards, according to Jewish law.

Da Silva and Pimentel, a Brazilian born to an atheist father and a Catholic, non-observant mother, were welcomed at a reception the following day into Lisbon’s small Masorti community of a few dozen people.

JTA

March 31 and Dona Gracia

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

At first glance, March 31 is not a day that particularly stands out in Jewish memory, but it is actually a day of significance.

In 1492, the Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion) was signed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, which led to the expulsion of all Jews from Spain 3 months later on Tisha B’Av 1492.

Some Jews at the time also went into hiding as Crypto-Jews (Conversos). Many went to Portugal, which welcomed Jews in.

Two such Converso families were the Nasi (de Luna) and Benveniste (Mendes) families who eventually joined together in marriage.

In the 1500’s Dona Gracia (Hanna Nasi) took over her husband’s (Francisco Mendes) spice business after his death, building it up, and ending up becoming one of the richest Jewish women in Renaissance Europe.

But what stands out most about Dona Gracia is that she bought the entire city of Tiberias from the Sultan.

She began to rebuild the city, and invited the Jews of Europe to go to Tiberias, where she would give them start-up funds and land, in the hope that the Jews of Europe could finally come back to their home in the Holy Land, and find refuge from unfriendly Europe. Unfortunately, it appears that very few people took her up on her pre-Nefesh B’Nefesh offer.

Dona Gracia herself never visited Israel.

Today there is a Dona Gracia museum in her honor, located in Tiberias.

Jewish Press Staff

Securing Our Future Through Historic Jewish Communities

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Since becoming the first ordained rabbi in Jamaica in thirty-three years, I have been working tirelessly with my community to build a Jewish future on this tropical island. Every Jewish community wants to survive and indeed thrive, but there is a particular importance to the preservation and development of the world’s small, history-rich Jewish communities.

As I see it, our collective Jewish future depends on it.

Before I explain my reasoning, let’s briefly review the momentous – but often overlooked – history of our community in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Jewish community of Jamaica traces its origin to Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, who came to the Caribbean in order to escape from the Inquisition. In most cases they originated from parts of Spain that bordered on Portugal. When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella issued an expulsion decree on March 30, 1492, the Jewish community was given exactly four months to liquidate their affairs and leave the country. Those who fled to Portugal were forcibly converted in 1497. Because the Inquisition was not introduced in Portugal for several decades, many Jews in Portugal continued to practice their religion quietly.

In 1536 the Inquisition reached Portugal and Conversos began to leave. The Portuguese held their first auto-da-fe in 1540. This obviously frightened our ancestors, who made discreet attempts to plan their escape. Slowly, Portuguese Jews made their way to a number of cities that had or developed Converso communities. Amsterdam was the largest of these communities. From Amsterdam, they pursued business opportunities in the Caribbean, settling in Port Royal or later, Spanish Town and Kingston. We can trace our current community back to Neveh Shalom Synagogue, which was founded in 1704, but our roots go back even further.

There are similar communities throughout the Caribbean and Central America, including Willemstad, Curacao; St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; and Suriname. Each of these communities still conduct services on a regular basis. Preserving these and other historic Jewish communities is critical for a number of reasons.

First, the fact that the Jews were the original Diaspora needs to be emphasized at a time when various other communities are discovering their own Diasporas. This can help build strong bonds between various national groups, allowing us to share common experiences with those who may not have obvious connections to the Jewish people. This would, of course, promote tolerance, which is always “good news for the Jews.”

Second, the experiences of the Jewish people in virtually every corner of the globe over the course of hundreds and, in many cases, thousands of years is part of the narrative that needs to be told to those who are legitimately asking questions about Jewish existence and Jewish history.

Whether in Israel or in various parts of the Diaspora, we need to be able to explain to skeptics that we have survived seemingly unending persecution and numerous expulsions and have nevertheless maintained our commitment to our people and our religion.

This narrative needs to be preserved and enhanced in actual living terms, and not just through books and museum exhibits. We must be able to tell the story of our peoplehood and be able to demonstrate living examples of that history.

Finally, when individuals travel the world looking for adventure and existential meaning, it is important that we “surprise” them with Jewish history and living, breathing Jewish tradition. Visitors are beside themselves when they discover that the Caribbean island they are exploring not only had a historic Jewish community but has living indigenous Jews who continue to gather together for communal events.

In my short time here, I have met and interacted with numerous individuals and groups who come searching for the Jamaican Jewish community in an effort to discover their own Jewish identities. Some of those who seek us out come away with a new perspective on life and a revitalized commitment to their Jewish observance. In a way, we are like a living exhibit from the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv.

Over the past seventy years there has been a dramatic contraction of the Jewish Diaspora. From a large and diverse population spread out among most of the countries of the world, we have concentrated ourselves in a handful of countries, living mostly in a couple of dozen large urban regions. This is quite an unfortunate demographic trend.

Dana Evan Kaplan

Hebrew Inscription Provides Oldest Archaeological Evidence of Jews in Iberia

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/hebrew-inscription-provides-oldest-archaeological-evidence-of-jews-in-iberia/

The recent discovery of a marble plate bearing the Hebrew inscription “Yehiel” in Portugal serves as the oldest archaeological evidence of Jews in Iberia. Dated sometime before 390 C.E., the two-foot-wide marble plate appears to be a tomb slab. Discovered in a Roman-era excavation near the city of Silves, Portugal by archaeologists from the German Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the discovery predates the previous oldest evidence of Jews in Iberia by nearly a century.

The slab was found in a rubble layer nearby antlers, which were carbon dated to 390 C.E. Excavation director Dr. Dennis Graen explains. “we have a so-called ‘terminus ante quem’ for the inscription, as it must have been created before it got mixed in with the rubble with the antlers.”

The history of Jews in Iberia is known from texts documenting interactions between relatively large populations of Jews and Christians around 300 C.E., but until now, there has not been archaeological evidence of the early population. At the time, Jews in Iberia (and across the Roman Empire) wrote in Latin script, making the the Hebrew inscription bearing the Biblical name “Yehiel” (and other still-to-be translated text) a unique find.

It is the first instance of a Hebrew inscription found in a Roman villa in the region.

A recent discovery at a Roman villa near Silves, Portugal stands out as the oldest evidence of Jews in Iberia.

Before the discovery, the oldest archaeological evidence of Jews in Iberia was a late 5th century C.E. tomb slab with a Latin inscription and an image of a menorah, and the oldest known Hebrew inscription appears centuries later. The discovery by the University of Jena archaeologists provides a fascinating look at a unique circumstance of Jewish and Roman populations living together in this period, and provides archaeological context for the history of Jews in Portugal. The site is still under examination, and the Biblical archaeology world eagerly anticipates a further study of the Hebrew inscription and a deeper investigation of the early population of Jews in Iberia.

Read the full press release from Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Bible History Daily

Antisemitism on the Rise in Europe

Monday, May 7th, 2012

The virus of antisemitism persists in haunting Europe. In recent months, antisemitism has been exhibited all too often in European countries, not just in theory but in practice. France has been the scene for the murder of Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse; attacks on Jewish property in Paris and Dijon; desecration of Jewish graves in Nice, and anti-Semitic graffiti throughout the country. Malmo, Sweden, with a now considerable Muslim population, has witnessed increasing outbreaks of violence against Jews. It is disquieting that Ilmar Reepalu, the mayor of the city, has denied these attacks, and dismissed criticism of his denials as the work of the “Israel lobby.”

Over the last decade, antisemitic incidents have occurred not just in France and Sweden but also throughout Europe; some of the more notable have been in the Kreuzberg section of Berlin populated by Palestinians and Turks; even more significantly, in other neighborhoods of Berlin that are not populated by Middle East immigrants; in Stockholm, Amsterdam, and major French cities besides Paris; on the island of Corfu in Greece, and in Rome.

In the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, the European Union called for joint efforts to combat prejudice and discrimination experienced by individuals and groups on the basis of their ethnic features, cultural background, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability. As a result of this treaty, comprehensive data and an analysis of the state of discrimination in Europe with special emphasis on antisemitism is now available in a just-published comprehensive study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Berlin.

This study, Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination: a European Report, was based on interviews with sample populations of 1,000 people in eight European countries. It examined negative attitudes and prejudices against groups defined as “other,” “foreign,” or “abnormal.” The overall result — showing widespread intolerance, racism, sexism, dislike of Muslims, concern about immigrants, opposition to homosexuals and gay marriage, and antisemitism — is dispiriting.

Although the prejudices against the various groups differ, the study suggests that they are interconnected: that people who denigrate one group are also very likely to target other groups. Prejudices against the different target groups are linked and share a common ideology, one that endangers democracy and leads to violence and conflicts. The problem that democratic countries and well-meaning people now face is how to confront and overcome these prejudices that are so observable.

The overall saddening conclusion of the report, which deals with a number of areas of discrimination, is that group-focused enmity towards immigrants, blacks, Muslims, and Jews is widespread throughout Europe; and that anti-Semitism is an important component of this hostility. The Report defines anti-Semitism as social prejudice directed against Jews simply because they are Jews. Being Jewish is seen as a negative characteristic. Current antisemitism takes many forms: political (the Jews have a world conspiracy); secular (the Jews are usurers); religious (the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus); racist (Jews through their genetics are not people to be trusted). The report continues with additional detail: Jews have too much influence; Jews try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era; Jews in general do not care about anything or anybody but their own kind. Two additional troubling points of view were documented: the first is why people do not like Jews when one considers Israel’s policy; the second is the belief that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.

Even though the study deals with a limited number of individuals and European countries, its findings are significant. The details are a warning of possible future danger. The study shows that animosity against Jews is strongest in the Eastern European countries (Poland and Hungary) and in Germany, moderate in France, Italy, and Portugal, and weakest in the Netherlands and Britain. A recent shift appears to have occurred from traditional anti-Semitism to a new anti-Semitism in relation to the Holocaust. Ominously, an inversion of perpetrator and victim has taken place.

Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945, but the of the Final Solution seems to have been forgotten in the view of European citizens. The study shows that 72% of Poles, 68% of Hungarians, and 49% of Germans believe, strongly or somewhat, that the Jews today are benefitting from the memory of the camp and exploit the Holocaust. Even in the countries with the lowest expression of prejudice, the percentages of people who hold the view that Jews exploit the Holocaust are alarming. The figure for the Netherlands is 17% and in Britain 21%.

The most frequently expressed-anti-Semitic perception is the certitude that Jews have too much influence in the country of the respondent. Nearly 70% of Hungarians hold this view. In Poland, where few people even know a Jew since Poland has such a small Jewish community, some 50% hold this belief. The lowest figures are in the Netherlands where this view is held strongly by 6% and in Britain where 13.9% profess agreement with this assessment. The other four countries around 20% concur with this statement. On the question of Jews caring only about themselves, the range of views is different. Portugal joins Hungary and Poland in agreeing, 51-57%, while the other six vary between 20 and 30%. Somewhat surprisingly, a majority in all eight countries believe that Jews have enriched the culture of the country; the highest figures are in the Netherlands, (72%), Britain (71%) , and Germany (69%).

Michael Curtis

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/antisemitism-on-the-rise-in-europe/2012/05/07/

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