Polluting the Public Square: Anti-Semitic Discourse In Spain
Anti-Semitism at Anti-Israel Rallies
Posted: September 21, 2009
Anti-Semitic signs and rhetoric were on full display at anti-Israel demonstrations throughout Spain during the Operation Cast Lead. Whether the media inspired the anti-Semitism or created the tolerance for it, the result was the same. In either case, these demonstrations provided ample expressions of the problem of anti-Semitic discourse. In addition to open shows of support for Hamas and the burning of Israeli flags, anti-Semitic comparisons of Israel to the Nazi regime were common.
On January 10, 2009, in Barcelona, between 30,000 and 50,000 people marched in the streets, including Catalan regional Interior Minister Joan Saura. Some of the protestors carried Israeli flags with a swastika in place of the Star of David, like the one below.
The reportedly largest anti-Israel protest in Europe during Operation Cast Lead was held on January 11, 2009, in Madrid. Many signs comparing Israel with Nazi Germany were reported among the quarter million demonstrators who participated.
Notably, the Madrid branch of the ruling Socialist Party (PSOE) was one of the organizers of the "Madrid with Palestine" protest. While the PSOE opposed using the word "genocide" in the official proclamation of the protest, its representatives marched under a banner (shown below right) of "Paremos el Genocido [We Must Stop the Genocide]" at the head of the parade.
Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos later said that the PSOE does not agree with accusations of genocide.
On the same day in Sevilla, about 4,000 people demonstrated at a rally organized by "Andalucía with Palestine." Stickers equating the swastika and Star of David, like the one in the photo below, published in El País, were prevalent. The rally ended with a proclamation demanding an international trial against the Government of Israel for crimes against humanity, similar to the Nuremburg trials.
At a demonstration on January 17, 2009 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, hundreds of people marched behind a banner equating Israel with the Nazi regime with a swastika and a Star of David and the accusation of genocide.
In Murcia, the demonstration's organizers made the same analogy in a different manner, with a banner that equated Gaza with Auschwitz.
The extent of the anti-Semitism at the anti-Israel demonstrations was so blatant that on January 18, Foreign Minister Moratinos was asked about the phenomenon and said, "we have to be on guard against any expressions of an anti-Jewish or anti-Semitism character. Clearly this is a concern of the Government, I can assure you."