Monday, 30 Jan 2023 - 8 of Shevat, 5783

Jewish groups slam Barcelona for mulling end to twinning agreement with Tel Aviv

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‘’If Barcelona were to break its twinning with Tel Aviv, this would mark it as a city prone to hateful political manipulation,’’ said Shimon Smauels from the Simon Wiesenthal Center,  noting that the Barcelona City Council will meet on 27 January – which marks International Holocaust Commemoration Day – to vote in support of ending the twinning agreement.

”Nothing new under the sun: it is the age-old Jew hatred disguised as solidarity. The institutions in Catalonia commit time and time again the most obscene antisemitism,’’ wrote ACOM, the largest pro-Israel group in Spain.

 

Pro-Israel groups have called on authorities in Barcelona not to end the longstanding twinning of their city with Tel Aviv.

A petition campaign under the spurious slogan “Barcelona with no Apartheid – NO”, has been signed by the anti-Israel groups calling for a City Council vote.

The campaign to end the twinning agreement is being partially spearheaded by the local Spanish chapter of the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, as well as other rabidly anti-Israel groups.

‘’In the resolution of Barcelona the infamy of the “crime of apartheid” is simply taken for granted, being enough for it the invoking of reports from Amnesty International. Another example of the multiple and lasting damage of the great lie invented and spread by what once was a respectable institution,’’ wrote ACOM, the largest pro-Israel group in Spain.

‘’The truth is that the only place in the world where the Arabs live in democracy is in Israel: they are free citizens and their rights are respected; they form part of the Army, they vote and are voted for in free elections, etc,’’ it said.

‘’Palestinians who live in Egypt or Jordan are refused citizenship. Their status is inferior in Syria and Lebanon. After the Gulf War, half a million Palestinians where expelled from Kuwait… The only apartheid against the Palestinians is the one applied by the Arab countries. However, for the Ombudsman of Barcelona to maintain the twinning with Tel Aviv would be complicity with a crime against humanity. Nothing new under the sun: it is the age-old Jew hatred disguised as solidarity. The institutions in Catalonia commit time and time again the most obscene antisemitism,’’ said ACOM.

B’nai B’rith International President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin expressed shock that officials in Barcelona would consider ending the relationship with the Israeli coastal city and commercial hub.

“In 1998, Barcelona and Tel Aviv signed a friendship and cooperation agreement, which cemented the ties between these two wonderful Mediterranean cities. We are shocked by the alleged intention of the current authorities of the City Council of Barcelona to end this agreement after 24 years of friendly relations,” they wrote.

“If successful, this would be a decision that has no precedent in Europe and that is no doubt motivated by the most extreme anti-Israel bias. We are outraged that the City Council would make such a blatantly biased proposal. Barcelona and Tel Aviv have always been beacons of democracy and liberty, and it would be shameful to end this agreement that has only benefited the people of both cities,” added Riklin and Mariaschin.

The Federation of Spanish Jewish Communities wrote an open letter to the mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau over the matter.

“I am writing to you with great concern, as I am aware of the ‘boycott’ campaign against the twinning of the city of Barcelona and Tel Aviv and to break off relations with Israel. All this, under the alarming slogan ‘Barcelona with the apartheid NO,’” the letter states.

“Barcelona and Tel Aviv are open and welcoming societies. They are leading cities, recognized in many areas such as the organization of high-tech congresses. They are cities that attract investment, start-ups and tourism. They are discoverers of art and culture, defenders of LGBT rights and welcoming ports for all. The people of Barcelona and Tel Aviv have always welcomed everyone equally and would not tolerate any kind of boycott,” it continues.

“From our Communities and entities, we proudly promote and know our Barcelona as one of the favorite destinations for the twinned citizens of Tel Aviv, as well as for hundreds of thousands of tourists arriving from the other side of the Mediterranean. I fail to understand how they will disembark in the city when they are not welcome.

“We therefore call on all politicians in the Barcelona City Council, like their predecessors, to allow Barcelona to continue to build bridges of harmony, sensitive to all minorities, and to avoid promoting discourses of rejection and isolation,” it states.

In an open letter, the Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations,  Shimon Samuels, asked the Barcelona Mayor to withdraw from the hateful campaign against Israel.

‘’Barcelona has a Friendship and Cooperation Agreement with Tel Aviv since 1998. Both cities are characterized as open and diverse societies, active in promoting art, culture, high-tech start-ups and tourism. Both are known worldwide as defenders of LGBT and minority rights,’’ Samuels wrote.

He said that the petition is ‘’in line with the international BDS campaign specifically targeting Israel, and contravenes the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) Definition of Antisemitism, adopted by the EU, its member-States – including Spain -, other countries worldwide, international institutions, football clubs and municipalities.’’

On several occasions, the Wiesenthal Centre has urged Spanish cities and sport clubs to adopt the IHRA Definition, as a tool to identify antisemitism.

‘’If Barcelona were to break its twinning with Tel Aviv, this would mark it as a city prone to hateful political manipulation,’’ said Smauels, noting that the Barcelona City Council will meet on 27 January – which marks International Holocaust Commemoration Day – to vote in support of ending the twinning agreement.

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