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« Reply #380 on: March 06, 2013, 08:02:49 PM »

6 March 2013 Last updated at 06:35 GMT

Sephardic Jews invited back to Spain after 500 years
By Gerry Hadden

More than 500 years ago, tens of thousands of Jews fled Spain because of persecution. Now their descendants are being invited to return.

Before the infamous Spanish Inquisition of the 15th Century, some 300,000 Jews lived in Spain. It was one of the largest communities of Jews in the world.

Today, there are about 40,000 or 50,000 - but that number could be about to swell dramatically.

In November, Spain's justice minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon announced a plan to give descendants of Spain's original Jewish community - known as Sephardic Jews - a fast-track to a Spanish passport and Spanish citizenship.

"In the long journey Spain has undertaken to rediscover a part of itself, few occasions are as moving as today," he said.

Anyone who could prove their Spanish Jewish origins, he said, would be given Spanish nationality.

The news spread like wildfire among Sephardic Jews around the world.

According to the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities, which processes the applications, there were about 6,000 enquiries in the first month alone - including one from an unnamed member of the US Congress.

"My initial reaction was that this was a really thrilling moment - that it was an act of justice," says Doreen Carvajal, a US citizen and reporter with the New York Times in Paris.

"It was a romantic notion on my part. I told my husband, 'I think I'm going to try and get the passport because it closes a circle'. It was very poetic."

Carvajal was brought up Catholic, but a few years ago, she discovered she has Sephardic Jewish roots.

She began to investigate, eventually tracing her family tree back to the 15th Century and the city of Segovia, north of Madrid. She has countless documents, and has detailed her story in a book, The Forgetting River: A modern tale of survival, identity and the Inquisition.

But Carvajal says that when she contacted the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities, she learned that she didn't qualify. Not yet, anyway.

Carvajal's family was among the estimated one-third of Spanish Jews who converted to Catholicism to escape the Inquisition's clutches. They were known as the "conversos".

So, Carvajal is technically the descendant of converts. She's not a practising Jew herself. She was told she would have to convert back to Judaism before she could get Spanish citizenship.

"It felt like another act of being forced. Here are these people, the descendants of the forced ones, the conversos, being told you have to do this, you have to be a certain religion. So what happens if you're a secular Jew?"

The fast-track procedure has not yet taken effect - and Carvajal may well be entitled to citizenship when the rules are finalised.


For decades, there has been a movement to allow Sephardic Jews to return, but it is unclear why the Spanish government has chosen to bring up the issue again now.

In theory, enticing them back now could give a boost to Spain's shrinking economy, although Estanyol doubts very many will re-establish roots in Spain.

"Given how disastrous things are here today, I'd advise against it," she says.

It has also been suggested that Spain made the offer to mollify Israel, after Madrid supported last year's successful Palestinian bid for a seat at the United Nations.

Whatever the motivation, some Muslim scholars are denouncing the offer as unfair. They point out that their ancestors were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition. But no-one is inviting them back.

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Norman Lowell
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« Reply #381 on: March 06, 2013, 09:47:17 PM »

The joke of the century.
Just what a crises ridden Spain needs: Jews!
Just as much as Custer needed Indians.

The Golden Dawn
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Boycott The Times and The Sunday Times.
Do not post there, do not buy a copy of either, do not advertise.
Hurt Them in the only way they understand.

 Imperium 1107

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