Seven Questions on Spain's Restitution Surprise

The repentant Spaniards' intentions appear honorable - but have they considered the consequences of opening their doors to 3.5 million Jews?

Matthew Kalman
Matthew Kalman
Matthew Kalman
Matthew Kalman

Last Friday, the Spanish government approved draft legislation allowing dual citizenship claims from descendants of Jews expelled during the Inquisition in 1492. The bill must still be approved by parliament.

David Broza, clearly, will be delighted, though quite why the Spanish people would want to grant the “right of return” to an estimated 3.5 million newcomers is unclear. Their intentions appear to be honorable – to correct a historic injustice – but have they considered the consequences? Have the mandarins of Madrid bitten off more than they can put in their paella?

Not since the names of Holocaust-era Swiss bank accounts was published in 2001 has a list been so hopefully scrutinized, as the new roll-call of surnames that might qualify, from Abadi to Zuaretz via Knafo and Mizrachi.

Spanish citizenship would bestow upon Israelis instant access to European Union healthcare, work permits and cheap or even free higher education. As Monty Python famously pointed out, 'No one expects the Spanish Inquisition' – and I doubt that Spaniards know what will hit them if the bill becomes law.

So, just before the stampede begins, here are some things Spanish lawmakers might consider before it’s too late:

1. Since first announcing they would grant citizenship to qualifying descendants of the expulsion in 2012, Spanish bureaucrats have processed applications slower than Israel processes asylum requests from African migrants. Are they ready for 3.5 million frustrated, angry Israelis?

2. Spain is insisting that claimants first prove they are Jewish before granting citizenship. Is that Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or cultural Jewish? Here’s predicting the rise of a Spanish ultra-orthodox lobby insisting that only “real” Jews and their conversions are accepted.

3. A century after the Jewish expulsion, the Spanish expelled a similar number of Muslims. When Spain welcomes those descendants back as well, they’ll be able to re-create the Middle East conflict right at home.

4. Just what a country in deep economic crisis needs: 3.5 million new citizens who can’t speak the language.

5. Just what a country with a rich history of Jew hatred needs: legislative favoritism for Jews. That won’t increase anti-semitism at all. No, sir. No way.

6. There are no garinim (sunflower seed) outlets at the Camp Nou soccer stadium in Barcelona and there will be terrible confusion over the use of “ahora,” “mas,” “comer” and “pais.”

7. Is Spanish politics ready for Aryeh Deri?

Aryeh Deri in the ringCredit: Moti Milrod

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