Israeli Diplomats Imply anti-Israel Votes in Spain Rooted in Inquisition

'Navarre 1498: Jews out. Pamplona 2018: They forbidden to enter,' the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Madrid says

A giant Spanish flag is raised during a ceremony celebrating the 4th anniversary of the proclamation of Spain's King Felipe VI in Madrid, Spain, June 19, 2018.
Paul White/AP

Referencing the Inquisition, Israel implied that a Spanish city’s anti-Israel resolution was rooted in the country’s history of anti-Semitism from the 15th century.

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Madrid suggested this on the embassy’s official Twitter account this week.

“Navarre 1498: Jews out. Pamplona 2018: They forbidden to enter,” the spokesman wrote. On Tuesday, the municipality of Pamplona passed a motion calling for a “military embargo” on Israel.

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Jews were expelled from what it today is the Spanish state of Navarre as part of the Spanish Inquisition, a campaign of persecution against Jews and other non-Christians that the Catholic Church and the Spanish royal house initiated in 1492. It wiped out one of the world’s most illustrious and successful Jewish communities.

References to the Inquisition in statements about present-day political issues are rare among Israeli diplomats working on relations with Spain.

Last month, the parliament of the state of Navarre adopted a resolution calling on Spain to suspend its ties with Israel “until that country ceases its policy of criminal repression of the Palestinian population.” The final version stopped short of calling for a boycott of Israel or support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Jewish state.

The official website of Pamplona said it backs the regional parliament’s resolution from last month and “the right of the citizenry in Pamplona to use boycott as a civil and nonviolent tool for solidarity with Palestine.”

Inquisition Scene, 1812-1819, by Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), oil on panel, Spain, 19th century.
De Agostini / G. Dagli Orti / Getty Images IL

In a separate Twitter message, the embassy wrote that “Navarre was the last in the [Iberian] Peninsula to expel its Jews and the municipality of Pamplona the first to declare them unwanted.”

Emmanuel Nahshon, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, added on Twitter: “Expelling Israelis and promoting in Pamplona BDS racism. 1492 in its 2018 version.” Quoting the slogan of the Podemos far-left party that supports boycotts of Israel and whose name means “we can,” he ended his tweet with the words “Now we can.”

ACOM, a pro-Israel group based in Madrid, condemned the Pamplona municipality vote as “encouraging anti-Semitism.” But it nonetheless represents a “failure” for the campaign to boycott Israel because a direct call to do so was ultimately left out of the motion for fear of legal issues.

Tribunals in Spain, including the nation’s Supreme Court in two of its rulings, have voided a total of 16 boycott motions passed by municipalities. Another seven municipalities voluntarily scrapped their boycott motions under threat of legal action by ACOM. One municipality’s boycott motion was suspended by a court injunction.