Following terror attack, Barcelona’s chief rabbi says community is doomed

“I tell my congregants: Don’t think we’re here for good. And I encourage them to buy property in Israel. This place is lost."

By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ/JTA
August 18, 2017 18:34
3 minute read.
The suspected van is towed away from the area where it crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas.

The suspected van is towed away from the area where it crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, August 18, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS/SERGIO PEREZ)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Commenting on deadly attacks in Catalonia, the chief rabbi of that region in Spain said his community is doomed, partly because of radical Islam and the alleged reluctance of authorities to confront it.

Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen has been encouraging his congregants to leave Spain, which he called during an interview with JTA a “hub of Islamist terror for all of Europe,” for years before the attacks Thursday and Friday, he said. At least 14 victims and five suspected terrorists were killed in Barcelona and the resort town of Cambrils, 75 miles south of that city.

To Bar-Hen, whose community on Friday resumed activities that it had suspended briefly following the Barcelona attack, “Jews are not here permanently,” he said of the city and region. “I tell my congregants: Don’t think we’re here for good. And I encourage them to buy property in Israel. This place is lost. Don’t repeat the mistake of Algerian Jews, of Venezuelan Jews. Better [get out] early than late.”

A white van on Thursday careered into crowds on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s feted thoroughfare, when the street was packed with locals and tourists. Along with the fatalities, more than 100 were injured. The driver of the van fled on foot and was believed to be still at large on Friday. Police shot dead another man at a checkpoint Thursday. The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for that attack.

Hours later, police killed five men during a raid in Cambrils whom police said were terrorists planning an imminent attack.

Part of the problem exposed by the attacks, Bar-Hen said, is the presence of a large Muslim community with “radical fringes.” Once these people are “living among you,” he said of terrorists and their supporters, “it’s very difficult to get rid of them. They only get stronger.” He also said this applied to Europe as a whole.

“Europe is lost,” he said.

Bar-Hen emphasized that he was speaking as a private person and not for all the members of his community.


Displaying a defiant and more confident attitude than Bar-Hen, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain issued a statement expressing “full confidence in security forces who work daily to prevent fanatics and radical Muslims from inflicting pain and chaos on our cities.”

Bar-Hen also charged that authorities and some politicians are reluctant to confront Islamist terrorism. He cited the government’s decision in April to allow Leila Khaled, a Palestinian terrorist who was convicted in a plot to hijack an airplane in 1969, to enter the country for a book festival. This showed authorities “do not understand the nature of terrorism, if they treat it as an action by the disenfranchised,” Bar-Hen said.

Ignoring calls to ban the visit by Khaled — book fair organizers hung posters of Khaled on main streets — Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau Ballano of the far-left Barcelona en Comú party led the passage in April of a City Council resolution condemning Israel’s “violations of international law.”

On Friday, Colau Ballano wrote on Facebook: “Barcelona is a city of peace. Terror will not make us stop being who we are: a brave city open to the world.” She urged readers to show up at a solidarity rally that day.

Angel Mas, founder of the ACOM pro-Israel group, which protested Khaled’s visit, said it is “pure cynicism” by Colau Ballano to claim to oppose terrorism in light of her support for Khaled “and other individuals that support terrorist causes,” as he phrased it.

Bar-Hen said he may not attend the rally called by Colau Ballano, as security officials instructed him to avoid public areas in the coming days because he is recognizably Jewish.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Elio Lannutti datisenato
January 23, 2019
Italian lawmaker tweets alleging Rothschilds control international banking

By JTA