(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – Guillermo Zapata, the Madrid city councilman in charge of cultural and sport affairs, resigned his post on Monday because of a series of anti-Jewish tweets that mocked the Holocaust.
Zapata, who was sworn in on Saturday, tweeted in 2011, “How do you fit five million Jews in a SEAT 600 [a Spanish automobile]? In the ashtray.”
His tweets unleashed a firestorm of criticism in Spain. Two Twitter hashtags calling for his resignation#ZapataDimisión or #ZapataDimision electrified the Twittersphere and were trending at one point.
Zapata, who also defended a journalist on Twitter from the daily El Pais who denied the Holocaust and was later dismissed, wrote on Tumbler on Sundaý, “Now some of those tweets, which were written within the context of a conversation on black humor, have been recovered with the goal of presenting them as though they represented my ideas – while in fact I do not defend them at all.”
He added, “I firmly condemn all forms of racism, and, of course, anti-Semitism. I believe the Jewish Holocaust teaches us a lesson that humanity must never forget, so that it is never repeated.”
It is unclear whether Zapata will step down from his city councilman seat in addition to resigning from his post in charge of cultural and sport affairs.
According to reports, Zapata lampooned the Holocaust and gas chambers. He has since deleted his account and opened a new Twitter feed without the anti-Jewish micro-blogs. Zapata is a member of a leftwing party, Ahora Madrid (Madrid Now), that is associated with anti-Israel activities.
US foreign policy expert Walter Russell Mead wrote on the website of the American Interest, ”The leftist party Ahora Madrid (an affiliate of Podemos) is big on BDS [Boycott, Sanctions ,Divestment] perhaps unsurprisingly; there is a profound, longstanding connection between anti-capitalist ideology (both of the left- and right-wing varieties) in Europe and anti-Semitism.”
Opposition politicians and journalists called for Mayor Manuela Carmena, from Ahora Madrid, to dismiss Zapata.
In a statement to The Jerusalem Post, the Jewish community of Madrid said it “expresses its concern” for the anti-Semitic tweets and has requested from the new mayor to dismiss Zapata.
“The Jewish community of Madrid has issued an immediate communique asking for explanations and obviously denouncing these types of comments and we also stated that we will not tolerate any kind of anti-Semitism,” said David Hatchwell, the president of the Jewish community of Madrid and vice president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain.