web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Ancient Mikveh Discovered In Spain

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

A 15th century mikveh was discovered at the location of the last synagogue in the old Jewish quarter of Girona in Catalonia, Spain.

The discovery of the Jewish ritual bath is significant since there are very few preserved mikvehs left in Europe, and it further highlights the importance of Girona’s rich Jewish heritage.

Girona is a town near Barcelona which was known for its thriving Jewish community before the expulsion of Spain’s Jews in 1492.

A recent archeological dig permitted the discovery of the mikveh at the site of the synagogue, which was founded in 1435 and abandoned in the summer of 1492, when the expulsion decree was carried out by King Fernando against the Jews of Spain .

It forced the community of Girona, consisting of about 20 families, to sell the synagogue along with the surrounding community spaces before fleeing the country. Thanks to records of the sale, the exact location of the synagogue, which now houses the Museum of Jewish History in Girona, is known.

Israeli ambassador to Spain  Alon Bar attended the public presentation of the finding, along with the Minister of Culture of the Government of Catalonia Ferran Mascarell, and Girona Mayor Carles Puigdemont.

“I commend the discovery of more evidence of a Jewish presence and want to encourage this cultural treasure in order to maintain links between our peoples,” said Bar.

According to officials at the museum in Girona, very few ritual baths of this type have been preserved in Europe and in the Mediterranean area; they have been found in Sicily, Montpellier, and Besalu which is also in Catalonia.

Spain to Vote on Making Holocaust Studies Obligatory

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Spain’s ruling People’s Party recently submitted a proposed amendment to the education law that would make Holocaust studies obligatory for Spanish students.

If passed, the proposed amendment would introduce the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany into the curriculum “at various stages of basic education,” the Spanish news agency Europa Press reported Thursday.

The proposed amendment to the Organic Act for the Improvement of Educational Quality is part of a wider effort to include more materials that pertain to the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts and values underpinning democracy and human rights, Europa Press reported.

The president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, Isaac Querub, said the proposal “certainly represents progress,” but added that the federation would have liked to see a “more comprehensive amendment, explaining the general history of the Jewish people.”

“Unless the Holocaust is contextualized, it will give a distorted image of the history of the Jewish people,” he said.

Prerequisites for Muslim-Jewish Reconciliation

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

I appreciate the fact that this Jewish publication was willing to publish my article. I’m not sure how easy it would be for a Jewish pundit to get his or her work published in a Turkish, Egyptian or Iranian magazine. I believe it’s high time someone gave it a try.

History buffs among us know all too well that the best time for Jews over the past two millennia—ever since they were overcome by the force of the Roman empire following two bloody rebellions—was under the rule of the Arab caliphates, both in Spain and in North Africa. So much so, that Jewish sources refer to that time as “The golden age.”

The various Muslim caliphates, which began ruling a very large chunk of the known world in the 7th and 8th centuries, were driven by a single, fundamental, religious mission: to spread Islam. But their agenda for the pagans populating Asia, Africa and Europe was different from their agenda for the “peoples of the book,” followers of Christianity and Judaism. While, most often, the heathens were given no choice about conversion: you became Muslim or you died – Christians and Jews who refused to convert to Islam only had to endure a kind of second class citizenship, with different features in different locales.

It would be helpful to recall that while Jews in Muslim territories at the time were forced to wear articles of clothing that set them apart, and were forbidden to ride horses or use the main public sidewalks—a few miles up north, in Christian Europe, they were being raped, pillaged and burned alive on a steady basis. And while in Christian Europe Jews were blocked from most of the professions, under the caliphates their economic options were much more exciting, hence the term “golden age.”

While Jewish culture in Christian Europe centered almost strictly around the houses of study, with little evidence of a robust culture, in Spain and North Africa the Jews wrote songs and books of philosophy, and excelled as military generals and court politicians—in addition to their flourishing business as traders and bankers.

It is true that Islam had its low point even during that golden age, and every once in a while the mainstream in various provinces—for a variety of geopolitical and social reasons—would take on an ominous spirit of fanaticism and start harassing the “peoples of the books” with fanatical impatience and zeal, threatening their lives unless they converted. But even those waves of fanaticism are dwarfed by the pogroms and expulsions that marked the lives of Jews under Christian rule.

Indeed, the demise of the thriving Jewish culture in Spain came not under Muslim rule, but only after the Christian invasion of the late 1300s, which ended with the expelling of all the Jews of Spain and Portugal in 1492.

What followed was particularly grim for Islam. Just as the original Muslim invasion of the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe was enabled by the decline of the Roman Empire, so did was decline of the Caliphate an invitation to a new force, the great Ottoman Empire, to quickly overtake those same areas, and to push far north into Central Europe, only to be blocked, finally, at the gates of Vienna.

But something went wrong in Muslim history at that point. Historians will continue to argue over the precise reasons – the reality is that sometime around the Renaissance period, while Christian Europe began to emerge from its barbarism, to usher in an age of discoveries, inventions and the rise of the human spirit—at a high cost to many indigenous peoples on several continents—Islam began its sad and disheartening decline that set aside Muslims in general and Arabs in particular as the second class citizens of a developing world. Instead of setting the tone in science and scholarship, as it used to do in the middle ages, Islam was relegated to the position of a spectator in a game it could not hope to win.

We have a big problem with cognitive dissonance in most Arab countries, which are trying to be simultaneously Muslim and modern. By “modern” I mean doing all the things a normal Western society takes for granted: publishing books, making movies, starting businesses, dining in restaurants, driving cars, writing laws to serve the community, delivering state services. Every single one of these aspects of your life which you take for granted represent a potential clash with Islam.

Israel Gives up ‘HaTikvah’ Anthem for the Sake of Peres’ Peace

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Israel set itself up for humiliation last week by staging a visit of the Barcelona soccer team at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield stadium without the playing of the HaTikvah national anthem.

The visit was headlined around the world as another effort by the Peres Peace Center to try to convince itself that the Palestinian Authority really wants co-existence with Israel. The soccer team also played in Bethlehem, where the Palestinian Authority anthem was sung, according to the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot  newspaper.

Obviously, the Israeli anthem would be sung in Tel Aviv, Israel’s capital according to the entire world outside of Israel, but it was not so obvious to the office of President Shimon Peres and the Foreign  Ministry.

Before the game in Tel Aviv, a meeting was held at the stadium, where representatives from other governments said that if the Israeli anthem were to played, then the same honor would have to be extended to the Palestinian Authority , Spain and an autonomous community of Spain, with the official status of a nationality.

“After discussions with the production team and the Foreign Ministry it was said that said it would be unpleasant,” senior officials from the office of President Peres reasoned. After all, playing four anthems would drag things out a bit, so they got by with playing only the Catalan anthem.

But why didn’t the same reasoning apply when the Barcelona team played in Bethlehem?

No one really had an answer for that, but it can be assumed that the Palestinian Authority would have threatened to cancel the soccer team’s visit if anyone had dared even mentioning the word HaTikvah.

Israel, of course, is always ready to make peace, and who needs a Zionist anthem anyway? That would only contradict  chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s terms for peace.

So even though organizers had agreed for it to be sung in Tel Aviv and even though singer David D’or was to sing HaTikvah, the announcement arrived that that it was cancelled.

Education Minister Shai Piron, of the Yesh Atid party, was not so condescending and announced that his ministry would not pay its share of 1 million shekels to finance the visit.

“If there is someone whose feelings are hurt hearing the Israeli national anthem, then they shouldn’t come at all,” ministry officials told the newspaper. “It is first-class chutzpah to come to the heart of Tel Aviv and then ask us not to play our anthem. And it is even a greater audacity by the organizers and the people of the Peres Center that they lowered their heads and agreed to it. It’s a scandal that would not have  passed quietly in  any civilized country. “

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

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.

Peres Wants ‘Soccer Game for Peace’ with Israel and PA vs. Spain

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

President Shimon Peres and the head of the Barcelona soccer club announced on Thursday a special soccer match for peace that will include players from the Palestinian Authority.

President Peres told club president Sandro Rosell at a press conference, “I am delighted that we will have the opportunity to launch this project together. Your club motto is “Mes Que un club” and it’s true. Barca is ‘more than a club. It is a message. A message of togetherness. A message of friendship…

“A soccer club is also a school. It is educational; it teaches our children to play together despite their differences.”

He then turned to his vision of peace and stated, “Real peace is between people and not just between governments and as our children love Barcelona, so, too, do children in the Palestinian Authority.

Rosell announced, “Tomorrow, Friday, we are going to Ramallah to meet his excellency Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority. We would like, with the Palestinian and Israeli leadership, to promote the idea of a football match for peace. We understand that peace will only be possible if we build confidence, respect and understanding between the two peoples. We believe with all our heart that a match involving Barca, with the collaboration of Israelis and Palestinians, can contribute to reestablish those links which are indispensable for people to live together peacefully.”

At the end of the statements President Peres and Rosell exchanged shirts, with President Peres receiving an FC Barcelona shirt with his name on the back and Rosell receiving a shirt with his name on the back from the PeresCenter for Peace.

Blasphemy as a National Security Threat

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Spain has begun deportation proceedings against Imran Firasat, a Christian refugee from Pakistan, for making a documentary about Mohammed and thereby threatening the national security of Spain. If Firasat is deported back to Pakistan, he will face the death penalty proving that it’s a short step from the Spanish Inquisition to the Pakistani Inquisition.

The United States has a man sitting in prison for making another blasphemous movie, which the government spent weeks blaming for worldwide attacks on American embassies. And he isn’t the first man persecuted or prosecuted for offending Islam. Offending Islam has become a national security issue involving all levels of government. When Bubba the Love Sponge, a Tampa DJ, proposed to burn a Koran, the commander of the Afghanistan war contacted his girlfriend (who would later be stalked by Petraeus’ girlfriend) to contact the Mayor of Tampa to keep Bubba from burning a Koran. Instead of explaining how the American system works to the Lebanese temptress and her four-star general, the mayor wrote back that the city was working on it. That month 50 percent more Americans were killed in Afghanistan in the long slow death march of the war, but a Koran was not burned in Tampa. Mission accomplished.Muslims did not have to kill a great number of Americans to enforce blasphemy law in this country. Counting the various reactions to burnt Korans, rumors of a flushed Koran and assorted things of that nature, the number is still well below a hundred. Even counting every casualty in the war from September 11 onward, it took fewer deaths to make the United States give up on the Bill of Rights than it took to liberate it in the War of Independence.

But it’s not really about the deaths, if it were then the United States wouldn’t be senselessly squandering the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan to avoid offending the natives. It’s not the death of men that our leaders are worried about, but the death of stability.

Knowing that a hundred men will die today in car accidents does not alarm anyone, but knowing that somewhere a dozen men might die in a bomb explosion, anywhere and at any time, can bring a nations to its knees. That is the difference between predictable and unpredictable death. Predictable death makes it possible for most everyone to go about doing what they normally do. Unpredictable death however erodes daily order.

Blasphemy makes terrorism seem predictable. It delivers that false sense of control that is at the root of Stockholm Syndrome, the seductive illusion that the thug can be reasoned with and that we can restore control over our perilous environment by accepting responsibility for the enemy’s violence. If we meet a set of conditions then we will have peace. And what kind of lunatic wouldn’t want peace? The kind who needs to be deported or locked up in the name of peace.

When an entire country goes Stockholm then it is no longer interested in winning the war, only in surviving the peace. In a Stockholm country, national security consists of locking up anyone who can be blamed for sabotaging the peacemaking. The less peace there is, the more the peacemakers go on the hunt for “extremists” who are to blame for the lack of it. The more their vision of a better world fails, the more stern measures they must take against their own people. Peace is always one more denunciation of extremism away.

The same countries whose leaders have spent a century and a half blathering incessantly about a truly progressive order under international law have shown no ability to cope with the old-fashioned kind of war. They can quote verbatim the laws of war, but understand poorly that war makes its own laws. War’s simplest law is that you pick a pretext, any popular pretext, make your demands and then go on the attack. If the other side is foolish enough to meet your demands, then it has shown its weakness and must be attacked again and again.

Muslims have restored blasphemy prosecutions to the United States and Europe through violence. Like Khrushchev banging his shoe on the United Nations delegate desk, they did their best to convince the rest of the world that they were violently irrational and liable to do all sorts of things if their demands weren’t met. And their demands were met. Rather than going medieval on their asses, the civilized world instead went medieval on anyone who offended the medieval cult of Islam.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/blasphemy-as-a-national-security-threat/2012/12/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: