Barcelona City Council are breaching IHRA - Opinion

Barcelona City Council are voting to sever ties with Tel Aviv, claiming Israel is an Apartheid

 Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold candles during a protest in front of Catalan Government in Sant Jaume quarter in central Barcelona January 16, 2009 against Israel's attacks on Gaza. The sign reads: "Boycott Israel, boycott apartheid". (photo credit: REUTERS/GUSTAU NACARINO)
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold candles during a protest in front of Catalan Government in Sant Jaume quarter in central Barcelona January 16, 2009 against Israel's attacks on Gaza. The sign reads: "Boycott Israel, boycott apartheid".
(photo credit: REUTERS/GUSTAU NACARINO)

Barcelona’s City Council recently decided to vote to sever its institutional ties with Israel. What is specifically at stake is its twin-city alliance with Tel Aviv. The alliance was established 25 years ago and involves a fruitful friendship and cooperation agreement.

The call for a vote is the result of an initiative, supported by more than 4,000 signatures and encouraged by Mayor Ada Colau’s party, as well as by the main opposition party Esquerra. The slogan of the campaign shows its hostility towards the home of the Jews by using the false accusation that International Amnesty has exploited so much: “Barcelona says no to apartheid.”

Among those pushing to break up the twin city alliance of these two Mediterranean cities are Spain’s main trade unions: the General Workers Union (linked to the Socialist Party) and Comisiones Obreras (Labor Commissions).

What is even more serious is that one of Barcelona City Council’s institutions, the Síndic de Greuges (a kind of ombudsman), has endorsed the terms of a complaint filed by the Coalición Basta de Complicidad con Israel and by Lafede.cat - Organizaciones para la Justicia Global. Behind the first of these groups are Lucha Internacionalista (a revolutionary Trotskyist organization), Colectivo Intifada, Brigadas Huriya, Unadikum International Brigades, Rumbo a Gaza (belonging to the International Freedom Flotilla Coalition) and BDS Catalunya.

Government-level antisemitism

We are faced with clear and decisive institutional support for the purposes of a series of entities that fit the definition of antisemitism according to the terms of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an intergovernmental organization that Spain has belonged to since 2008. This support has been decisive in managing to call for a vote.

 ADA COLAU poses during her swearing-in ceremony as the new mayor of Barcelona, in 2019. (credit: ALBERT GEA/ REUTERS) ADA COLAU poses during her swearing-in ceremony as the new mayor of Barcelona, in 2019. (credit: ALBERT GEA/ REUTERS)

It is sad and deplorable that a European public administration would adopt the discourse and slogans of radical activist groups. It does so by promoting solidarity with the Palestinians that is always blind to an obvious fact: the state which they are mobilizing against is the only one in the region where Arabs live in a democracy. This solidarity never perceives nor denounces the real attacks on the life and freedom of Arabs in Arab countries.

The offense against Israel and Jews, in Barcelona and all over the world, is accentuated if we consider the wording of the City Council’s resolution. According to the resolution, if Barcelona were to maintain the twin city alliance with Israel, it would constitute a crime against humanity. As a native of that city, I am ashamed to have an anti-Semite in power. But, unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

What is certain is that all of the above is part of the gradual degradation that Catalonia and specifically its capital, Barcelona, has been experiencing since separatist nationalism and the extreme left have been in power. Readers who have visited this city, which was once an example of cosmopolitanism and openness to the world, must have noticed the alarming lack of safety in its streets.

INVESTORS ALREADY know that this former activity magnet has become a focus of risk due to the lack of legal security and due to environmental hostility against any foreign agent - considering that even non-Catalan Spaniards are “foreign.”

Any Israeli company will be particularly unwelcome and will live under the shadow of suspicion. It will have to deal with boycotts and institutional declarations, such as the one recently approved by the regional Parliament of Catalonia, which will be disguised as Judeophobia, always disguised as solidarity with the Palestinian people.

But thousands of local companies have fled Catalonia in recent years in search of the stability and security offered by other parts of Spain, especially Madrid, where the headquarters of the large Catalan banks ended up, given the atmosphere prior to the attempted separatist coup that took place in October 2017.

As if this were not enough, there is not the slightest glimmer of hope on the horizon that things are going to change. The extreme Left and separatism go hand in hand with the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. The former is part of the government in coalition with the Socialist Party. The latter is his main parliamentary allies.

By obtaining one transfer of power after another, those responsible for the economic, cultural and moral collapse of Catalonia have consolidated a position of absolute dominance over the major public and private media, making it extremely difficult to articulate any democratic, constitutionalist and sensible alternative that would make it possible to correct course.

In this degraded environment, in this political experiment propitiated by extremist populism and by secessionist parties bent on circumventing the law in every imaginable way, the institutionalization of antisemitism makes sinister sense.

It’s barbarism.

The writer is a former Spanish and European member of Parliament and a member of the board of advisers of Action and Communication on the Middle East (ACOM).