'The Spanish are not anti-Semitic'

By ABE SELIG
September 8, 2009 10:03
4 minute read.
Delia Blanco Teran visits Sderot on Sunday

Delia Blanco Teran visits Sderot on Sunday. (photo credit: Danielle Manson/Elnet)

 
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Spain's El Mundo daily should not have run its interview with Holocaust denier David Irving over the weekend, Delia Blanco Teran, president of the Spanish Socialist Party in the Madrid region, has told The Jerusalem Post.

Anyone who questioned the Holocaust was "crazy," and "it wasn't correct to write the article," Teran told the Post on Thursday, before the Irving interview ran.

"Even in a democratic country, it's not correct to print something like that," she said.

El Mundo published the interview as part of a series with "experts" marking the start of World War II 70 years ago.

The conservative Spanish People's Party (Partido Popular), which is considered pro-Israel, led the country's government until 2004, when the March 11 train bombings in Madrid helped to bring the PSOE to power.

The PSOE's national leader, current Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero, has been an outspoken critic of Israeli military operations and has made numerous public appearances sporting the Palestinian keffiyeh.

And though her party has not traditionally been considered friendly toward Israel, Teran said that the Israeli public's impression of Spanish sentiment toward the Jewish state had not always been accurate.

"The Spanish people are not anti-Semitic," she said. "And I don't think that all journalism in Spain [covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] is directed against Israel. The Jews lived alongside the Spanish for such a long time, and I think that a lot of the problems with Spanish attitudes toward Israel are based in a lack of understanding."

"There is a lack of knowledge in Spain regarding the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians," she added. "There isn't a deep understanding of the problems facing the region, and because Spaniards don't know all of the facts, because they don't see that this conflict is not black and white, they can sometimes get into superficial arguments."

That lack of understanding, Teran said, was the reason for her visit to the region. With help from the the Madrid-based Association for the Solidarity of Israel-Spain, last week Blanco led a delegation of politicians from the Spanish Socialist Party to the region, where they met with Israeli and Palestinian officials and traveled around Israel and the West Bank.

While Teran said a large part of the visit was aimed at improving the delegation members' grasp of the problems facing the region before Spain assumes the revolving European Union presidency in January, another goal was to reconnect with Israel's Labor Party, which once had close relations with the PSOE.

"When the Labor Party was in power in Israel, we had better contact with them," Teran said. "But now that the Socialist Party is in power in Spain, we wanted to reestablish that connection."

Still, Teran emphasized that her group had met with representatives of a number of parties, including the Likud, Kadima and Meretz.

"We want to talk to the Israeli government no matter who is in charge, she said. "We also spoke with representatives from Fatah."

However, her party had no plans to speak with Hamas representatives.

"And while we want to arrive at a solution, and find the resolution to the conflict, our aim is not to tell anybody what to do. We're coming to help - in no way is the Spanish people anti-Semitic. We want to help advance the peace process process between Israel and the Palestinians, and help Spanish society to better understand the issues."

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