Mayor of Spanish City Heads Hate Campaign Against PM Sharon

The small city of Oleiros is on the map - for its anti-Semitism and incitement against PM Ariel Sharon. The mayor says he's not anti-Semitic, and that "two of my son's best friends are Jewish."

, | updated: 12:09 PM

Large electronic signs in the city read, "Let's stop the beast! Sharon is a murderer, let's stop the new Nazis!" The signs were commissioned by the mayor of Oleiros, Angel Garcia Seoane, and despite official protests by Israel, he has no plans to take them down. The words "City of Oleiros" stand proudly atop the signs.

The city of Oleiros, on the northwestern tip of Spain, boasts a population of almost 30,000.

Ynet, the Israeli internet news site that first broke the story yesterday, reports that the municipality is also selling T-shirts protesting Sharon's "genocidal" policies.

An Oleiros city spokesperson told Ynet that the campaign is merely meant to "support the Palestinian people." It is not directed against the Jewish people, she said, but rather against Sharon, whom "we think is the biggest anti-Semite in the world, because he fans hatred and violence." The city has no intention of taking down the signs under any circumstances, she emphasized.

An Arutz-7 correspondent later spoke with Mayor Seoane, intending to clarify how the epithets against Sharon showed support for the Palestinian nation. Seoane said, "This campaign is not against the Jewish nation, but rather against Sharon, who kills people with rockets and destroys houses... Yes, of course, Jews also should not have to be killed; the Jews have suffered greatly, and you just won the Nobel Prize [in chemistry] - and two of my son's best friends in Barcelona are Jews... But you are bringing hatred upon yourselves."

Protests by Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, have thus far had no effect. Israel's Ambassador in Spain had a stormy conversation with Mayor Seoane, and the Foreign Ministry in Israel summoned acting Spanish Ambassador Diego Bustamente for a "clarification" meeting. Bustamente took both sides, expressing sorrow over the incident but defending it at the same time: "It's unacceptable and it shouldn't have happened," he told Ynet, but added, "In my opinion, it's not anti-Semitism because the Jews are not being accused, only the Prime Minister. The sign doesn't incite anyone to do anything; [I don't think] the people of Oleiros will come like Crusaders to Jerusalem."

His invocation of the Spanish Crusades was a reminder of the first of many Spanish anti-Semitic episodes over the past millennium. For one example, the forged "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," composed by the Tsarist police in 1899, was republished five times in Spain from 1932 to 1938.

Most recently, following the murderous Palestinian terrorist attack that killed 15 Jews in Sbarros Pizzeria in Jerusalem, a Spanish newspaper displayed a photograph of the restaurant with a caption reading: "Bush is worried: Sharon is planning the destruction of the Palestinian nation." Last week, following Arafat's death, the official Spanish announcement did not mention his involvement in terrorism, and was most complimentary: "Arafat's charismatic personality, the international status that he gave to the Palestinian nation and his unrelenting fight for recognition for his people makes him one of the most relevant leaders of our time," the statement read - prompting a protest by Israeli officials.