Antisemitic graffiti was scrawled Monday on the façade of Barcelona’s Maimonides Synagogue, the Spanish city’s largest, with vandals leaving pro-Palestinian messages on the Jewish house of worship.
The message, in Catalan, read: “Free Palestine from the river to the sea. Solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
Letters were also left nearby, accusing Israel of “genocide against the Palestinian people and apartheid,” saying it is “a murderous country that steals land and destroys innocents’ homes.” The letters accused “Catalan elites” of supporting Israel.
“Palestine from the river to the sea” was a slogan of the Palestine Liberation Organization beginning with its founding in 1964, claiming a Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and rejecting control by Israel of any land in the region, including areas held by Israel prior to 1967. It later became a popular political slogan used by Palestinians who reject compromise with Israel, including the terror group Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel.
The vandalism, which appeared ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, was denounced by a number of Jewish groups, with the head of the Conference of European Rabbis linking it to Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau’s recent decision to suspend institutional relations with Israel, particularly a twin city agreement with Tel Aviv.
“Every additional case of vandalism and bloodshed as a result of this unfortunate choice will be on her hands,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said in a statement.
The leftist mayor announced the move in February, writing in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that she had taken the step due to Israel’s “systemic violation” of the rights of the Palestinian population.
Colau, a former anti-eviction activist, cited several Israeli policies including its construction of settlements on lands claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.
“It would be a severe mistake to apply a policy of double standards and turn a blind eye to a violation that has been, for decades, widely verified and documented by international organizations,” she added.
Barcelona’s city council symbolically later rejected Colau’s decision, with only her party voting in support.
The move was also criticized by Spain’s foreign minister and the mayor of Madrid, with the latter offering to twin his city with Tel Aviv in Barcelona’s stead.
Agencies contributed to this report.