A friend asked me last week why the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, had suspended relations with Israel and canceled the twin city agreement with the most liberal city in the Middle East, Tel Aviv. What does she gain by this?
Apart from how pathetic it is that she exceeds her authority in such a way, my friend did not understand that in the nature of fanatics, there are no reasons, only the blindness of their agenda of resentment and prejudice.
And there is no hatred more obsessive, compulsive and sick than antisemitism. Antisemites blame Jews for all evils, and they judge the Jewish people with a clear double standard.
Of all the cities with which Barcelona is paired, the mayor didn't decide to break relations with Gaza, a lair of Islamist terrorism. Nor Isfahan, in the hands of the mullahs, who murder their people while continually threatening Israel's existence. Nor Havana, converted into the great brothel of tropical communism. Barcelona continues to be twinned with all of them. Instead, the mayor broke off relations with a vibrant, tolerant, diverse and prosperous city in full cultural and technological bloom. A city that Barcelona should look to emulate in many ways.
But was it only her Jew-hatred that led Colau to override the traditional decision-making process, circumventing a vote in Barcelona's city council on this issue, or was she motivated by other factors? With an upcoming mayoral election in May, many believe that Colau made this hateful decision to please the extreme left in Barcelona at the expense of the Jews.
This resolution is not the first; it just culminates a long process of harassment, coercion and incitement against Jews in Barcelona and the whole of Catalonia, which has found the passivity and silence of many, thus encouraging the agents of hatred. But it is important to remember two key factors.
The first is that this decision of the city of Barcelona is not an isolated event. It attempts to make the second most important city in Spain an openly hostile territory, not only to Israelis, but to all Jews who visit it, and, more evidently, to the local Jewish community.
In these last few years, the city has approved at least two resolutions that harassed only one state: the democratic state of the Jews, the only Jewish state. In dozens of Catalonian cities, far more severe resolutions have been approved, effectively excluding Jews and friends of Israel from civil life. And they have even glorified terrorism, inviting with all honors, terrorists from Palestinian groups who have carried out murders against Jews, in Israel and around the world.
The second key factor is the mistake we would make if we limited the responsibility to a single person, mayor Colau and her party, Podemos, which is an extreme left party, financed since its inception by the Iranian regime and the Chavist dictatorship in Venezuela.
Colau governs, thanks to the Socialist Party of Spain's President Pedro Sánchez. Likewise, Sánchez governs thanks to Podemos. Also, the leading party in the opposition in the city of Barcelona, the independentist party Esquerra Republicana, which is in power in the whole region of Catalonia, is deeply antisemitic. All of them have competed to lead this Jew-hating action in the Catalonian institutions. Don't take my word for it – just look at their votes in each municipal meeting and in the Regional Parliament of Catalonia. Only the Spanish constitutionalist parties, with the exception of the Socialist Party, have resisted this discriminatory tide.
The lynching that has occurred against Israelis and Jews in Barcelona, Catalonia and the whole of Spain during these years when the coalition of the left, extreme left and separatism has been in power would have been impossible without the collusion, support and occasionally, the enthusiastic and decisive direction of the socialists. In every vote, in each of the motions, in each of the initiatives, the party of the President of the Spanish government was there.
Fortunately, we don't have to go far to find the opposite of this situation in the region of Madrid, the capital of Spain, where the conservative party Partido Popular is in power. Beginning with its regional President, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who has promoted a pioneering legal initiative worldwide in the fight against antisemitism, and extending to the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez Almeida, who has recently offered to make Madrid a twin city of Tel Aviv, replacing Barcelona. These two leaders show the way Barcelona should proceed, as well as the rest of Europe.
On the recent Holocaust Remembrance Day, regional President Díaz Ayuso reminded us that the Final Solution did not start in the Nazi gas chambers, nor in the extermination camps, but in the singling out and the discrimination of Jews by using the power of the state.
Angel Mas is the President of Action and Communication on the Middle East (ACOM), a leading group in Spain in the fight against antisemitism and in favor of the relationship between Spain and Israel, on the basis of shared values and common interests.
This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. Read the previous article by Yoseph Haddad.