Call was backed by a petition with more than 15,000 signatures.
The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), Israel-Spain Forum Alliance (ISFA), and Center for Jewish Impact (CJI) have joint called on the Barcelona City Council to vote at its meeting on Friday to restore the “twin city” relationship with Tel Aviv that was severed earlier this month by the city’s Mayor Ada Colau.
The call was backed by a petition with more than 15,000 signatures.
“The efforts to cancel the twin city agreement between Barcelona and Tel Aviv are not only misguided, but they are also rooted in antisemitism according to the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism,” the organizations wrote in a letter to the City Council.
“The BDS (Boycott-Disinvestment-Sanctions) activists behind the push for the cancellation of the Barcelona-Tel Aviv alliance are peace rejectionists seeking to delegitimize Israel’s very existence,” they said.
“True peace and reconciliation are built through discourse and engagement, not boycotts and isolation, and the bonds between Barcelona and Tel Aviv — which foster tolerance and social harmony across nationalities and faiths — are something to be promoted, not destroyed,” they added.
The letter was read at a protest outside Barcelona City Hall last Sunday against the cancellation of ties with Tel Aviv.
“Barcelona and Tel Aviv are known worldwide for their diversity and inclusivity, and the more than 15,000 backers of the petition demonstrate the broad-based popular support for maintaining the longstanding special ties between the cities,” said CAM Director of European Affairs Oriana Marie Krüger.
When she announced earlier this month the ending of Barcelona’s “twin city” relationship with Tel Aviv, Mayor Colau accused the State of Israel of practicing “apartheid” against the Palestinians.
Colau, a member of the left-wing Barcelona en Comú who has been mayor since 2015, claimed Israel had committed “repeated violations of the human rights of the Palestinian population” and was “incompliant” with United Nations resolutions.
In 1998, Barcelona and Tel Aviv signed a friendship and cooperation agreement, which cemented the ties between the two Mediterranean cities.
In a reaction to Barcelona’s decsion, the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, offered to twin his city with Tel Aviv. He called his Barcelona counterpart ‘’antisemitic’’ and offered Tel Aviv’s Mayor Ron Huldai “Madrid’s commitment to democracy and freedom,” daily newspaper ABC reported. “It would be an honor to be twinned with Tel Aviv,” the mayor said.
The Socialists (PSC), Colau’s partners in the city government, said they consider the decision a ‘’serious mistake.’’ They announced that they will bring the issue to Friday’s meeting with a proposal to withdraw the decision and recover the twinning relation.
the Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona sent a statement of support for Israel on Thursday.
The president of the Barcelona football club, Joan Laporte, decided to convey a message of support for Israel after Colau’s decision. He invited the representatives of the Israeli Embassy in Spain to the soccer match against the Manchester United team as part of the European League and to give the embassy representatives Barcelona shirts.
In a ceremony held before the game, Laporte emphasized the club’s long-standing commitment to excellent relations with the State of Israel and the people of Israel. The Israeli diplomats presented Laporta with an Israeli flag and shield in recognition of years of support for Israel, friendship and joint activity, and building a bridge between nations through sports.