BY HUGH FITZGERALD
Republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, & research purposes.
In Barcelona, the historic Maimonides synagogue was recently vandalized, with pro-Palestinian graffiti scrawled on its outer wall. This took place in a city whose officials, above all the mayor, have created an anti-Israel atmosphere that Jews in the city believe contributed to the vandalism. More on this event can be found here: “Barcelona Mayor Attracts Criticism After Historic Synagogue Vandalized With ‘Free Palestine’ Grafitti [sic],” Algemeiner, April 18, 2023:
The Jewish community in the Spanish city of Barcelona has blamed the anti-Israel stances of local political leaders for creating “fertile ground” for antisemitic acts such as the vandalism of the historic Maimonides Synagogue on Monday.
In a statement released on Monday, the Jewish Community of Barcelona (CIB) denounced the vandalism as an “antisemitic attack.”
The vandals, identified as three men in some local news reports, painted the slogans “Free Palestine from the River to the Sea” and “Solidarity with the Palestinian People” in large red letters on the synagogue’s outer wall earlier in the day. The first slogan refers to the Palestine Liberation Organization’s goal of a single state of Palestine to replace Israel in the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan.
Noting that this slogan “has traditionally been used by Arab radicals to demand that the Jewish people living in Israel be thrown into the sea,” the CIB stated that “holding Jews in general and, in this case, the Jews of Catalonia, to be responsible for the policies of the government and the State of Israel is an obvious example of antisemitism.”
In February, Barcelona’s Mayor, Ada Colau, announced that the city was suspending ties with Israel in protest at what she termed its “apartheid” policies. In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she said that the suspension would remain in place the suspension would remain in place “until the Israeli authorities put an end to the system of violations of the Palestinian people and fully comply with the obligations imposed on them by international law and the various United Nations resolutions.”…
As for the Barcelona Mayor’s “suspending” of the city’s ties with Tel Aviv, one of the cities with which it had been twinned, Ada Colau is badly misinformed. She mentions the “apartheid” practiced by Israel. There is none, and the Israelis ought to present her with the mountain of evidence that undermines her claim. Israeli Arabs enjoy full political, religious, and social rights. They serve on the Supreme Court, in the Knesset, in the diplomatic corps. The chairman of Israel’s largest bank, the Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs work together in the same offices and factories and are healed in the same hospitals by the same medical personnel consisting of both Jews and Arabs. They play on the same sports teams and on the same orchestras. The captain of Israel’s national soccer team is an Arab. Jews and Arabs own restaurants, clothing stores, and high-tech start-ups together. There is only one area where Jews and Arabs are treated differently. Jews must, while Arabs may, serve in the military.
Mayor Colau claims that there is a “system of violations of the Palestinian people.” What is she talking about? She clearly is unaware of the significance of the Mandate for Palestine’s continuing relevance, with its call, in Article 6, for the holder of the Mandate, Great Britain, to “facilitate Jewish immigration” and “close settlement by Jews on the land.” What land? All the land from the Golan Heights in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west — in other words, all of the area “between the river and the sea.” Perhaps Mayor Colau thinks that the provisions of the Mandate can simply be ignored, but on what basis? The Mandate was one of several created in 1922, by the League of Nations, and those mandates were recognized as of continuing validity even after the League of Nations had disbanded, to be replaced by the United Nations. Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, known as “the Jewish People’s article,” committed that organization to continue to fulfill the terms of any mandates still in existence, which in practice meant the Mandate for Palestine, as the other mandates — leading to the creation of Arab states in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon — had already been brought to a successful close. The Jewish state was supposed to include all of Judea and Samaria (which Jordan renamed as the West Bank in 1950); the only reason it did not is that Jordan’s Arab Legion managed to seize, and hold onto, that territory, from 1949 to 1967. In that year, Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War allowed it to exercise its pre-existing right to Judea and Samaria.
And on what basis does Colau think that she, or anyone else, can ignore another source for the Israeli claim to hold onto much of the West Bank, which is UN Security Council Resolution 242 (passed unanimously on Nov. 22, 1967)? UN Security Council Resolution 242, as its main author Lord Caradon repeatedly explained, allowed Israel to retain any territory won in the Six-Day War that it required if it was to have, in Resolution 242’s key phrase, “secure [i.e. defensible] and recognized boundaries.”
Finally, what principle of “international law” does Ada Colau think Israel has breached? Isn’t it true that in a successful war of self-defense, a state may hold onto territory from which the aggression was launched against it? Why was Italy entitled to hold onto the Alto Adige (formerly the Sudtirol), taken from Austria after World War I? Why did Poland, after World War II, quite justifiably keep much of East Prussia, which had been part of Germany? Why does Russia hold onto Kaliningrad (formerly Germany’s Königsberg) even today? No one objects to those and other changes to the world map that occur after wars have ended. But some want to apply special rules to Israel that they apply nowhere else.
When Mayor Colau refers to resolutions passed by the UN, what of it? The UN has become, ever since the Six-Day War, obsessively anti-Israel, a kangaroo court with the Jewish state perennially in the dock. The UN has no moral authority to lecture or hector Israel. No fair-minded people have observed the UN’s mistreatment of Israel, extending back to the “Zionism is Racism” Resolution 3379, passed by the General Assembly in 1975, mistreatment that continues right up to the present, when more resolutions condemning Israel are passed at the General Assembly than are passed about all the other 193 states put together, would accept the UN as a moral arbiter on anything to do with Israel and the Palestinians.
Colau’s decision to cut Barcelona’s “twinned cities” ties to Tel Aviv was symbolically rejected by the Barcelona City Council, which, however, does not have the power to override the Mayor’s decision, but showed, at least, that her view did not express a consensus; rather, it was an expression of her own deep antipathy to the Jewish state.
When in 1998, Tel Aviv and Barcelona entered into a “twinned cities” link, they included a third city – Gaza City. Now Barcelona, having cut its ties to Tel Aviv, has been left to be twinned only with Gaza City, an impoverished mess under Hamas rule, which spends more money on armaments and terror tunnels, and the private bank accounts of its leaders, than it does on the wellbeing of its citizens. There was a great deal that Barcelona derived from being “twinned” with Tel Aviv, which is both a world cultural center and a center of finance and high tech. Mayor Colau doesn’t care about the cultural and business loss. Now her city will continue to be twinned with Gaza City, a place famous only for its terror tunnels and its Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists. Is this what the people of Catalunya want?
When Ada Colau ended Barcelona’s ties to Tel Aviv, she was hurting her own city far more than she was damaging Tel Aviv. Later on, the same day when she made her decision, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, the Mayor of Madrid, accused Barcelona’s leader of antisemitism and tweeted that he had written to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to share “Madrid’s commitment to democracy and freedom.” He would be delighted to replace Barcelona: “It would be an honor to be twinned with Tel Aviv,” he added. Madrid has twice the population as Barcelona and closer ties with the business and technology hub of the Start-Up Nation could bring economic benefits, including a boost to Madrid’s own high-tech sector.
The instantaneous intervention by the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida. who quickly offered to replace Barcelona as the “partner” of Tel Aviv, makes good sense for both Madrid and Tel Aviv. The offer was just as readily accepted. Barcelona’s Mayor has now deprived her own city of the many benefits – economic, social, and cultural – to be derived from ties to bustling Tel Aviv, and Madrid has now snapped them up in Barcelona’s stead.
In a separate, harshly-worded statement, the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) accused Colau of being ultimately responsible for the vandalism of the synagogue.
“Every additional case of vandalism and bloodshed as a result of this unfortunate choice will be on her hands,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of the CER declared.
Ada Colau’s ending ties with Tel Aviv both reflect, and help to thicken, an anti-Israel and antisemitic atmosphere in her city that gives rise to such things as the defacing of the venerable Maimonides Synagogue. Ada Colau must be very proud.