SEVILLA, Spain — The Jewish Community of Madrid said it would take legal steps against a celebrated writer who cited Israel’s Gaza operation in justifying past expulsions of Jews.
Antonio Gala, an award-winning playwright and author, made the statement in an op-ed which was published on July 23 by the Spanish daily El Mundo.
“It’s not strange that they have been so frequently expulsed,” he wrote about the Jewish people in his 233-word article. ”What is surprising, is that they persist. Either they are not good, or someone is poisoning them. I am not a racist.”
In a letter to the editor of El Mundo, David Hatchwell, president of the Madrid Jewish Community, vowed to “invoke [legal] protection with all our vigor” against Gala, whom he said has a history of penning texts which were deemed offensive to Jews.
Hundreds of thousands of Jews were deported from Spain and Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries as part of the Iberian Inquisition — a campaign of persecution led by local leaders and the Catholic Church.
“We know this form of aggression very well, and its final consequences if we fail to draw red lines,” wrote Hatchwell, who added that his community’s “defense” against Gala will be based on a clause of Spain’s legal code which prohibits anti-Semitic hate speech.
Titled “The Chosen,” the article by Gala — the 1989 laureate of the Leon Felipe Prize for Civic Values, among other honors – also states: “Now you have to suffer their abuses in Gaza, and review it all with an apparent injustice. They are never clear.”
Gala’s article begins with the assertion that “The Jewish People could have done much good for mankind” but “it is a thought they were not made to coexist.”
He also said Jews have “new means, dimensions and benefits with new pressure from a power situated elsewhere in the world and an invisible community of blood.”
In 2009, El Mundo drew condemnations from Jewish institutions in Spain and beyond for publishing an interview with Holocaust-denier David Irving, who was described by El Mundo as an “expert” and “innovative thinker.”