President Reuven Rivlin, who is in Spain for a state visit marking 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, on Sunday evening met with leaders of Spain’s Jewish community, and took part in a special event hosted by the community at Madrid’s Ibn Gavriol School.
Along with the president, also addressing the event was president of the Jewish community of Madrid David Hatchwell and president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE), Isaac Querub.
Rivlin unveiled a plaque to be affixed to the entrance of the school, commemorating his visit to Spain and marking 100 years since the reestablishment of the Jewish community in the country since the Expulsion of 1492.
“The community here today is a magnificent community, with tens of thousands of members of all ages. Jewish life on the Iberian Peninsula, which was cut off more than five hundred years ago, is now full of life, and this is a great joy. This is a great victory for history and the spirit of the Jewish people,” he said.
The president continued, however, “According to the Spanish Interior Minister's report on anti-Semitism, in recent years there has been a rise of hundreds of percent in manifestations of anti-Semitism in Spain.”
“We must not surrender to anti-Semitism, we must fight it. I am pleased that the Spanish government is taking steps in legislation and enforcement against this ugly phenomenon. We must not be ashamed of or hide our identity. We must not be ashamed of the connection between the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I know that there are concerns, and fears of terrorism against Jews, and of anti-Semitism which poses as criticism against Israel. We will fight these challenges together,” he added.
Rivlin continued, “The State of Israel today operates an extensive network to combat anti-Semitism disguised as the delegitimization of Israel, to fight hatred of Jews disguised as a criticism of Israeli Government policy: these bodies are at your disposal, they are also here for you.”
The president concluded by thanking the community for their warm welcome and said, “We are brothers, let us stand together.”
Earlier on Sunday, Rivlin met with Jewish community leaders. During their discussion the president spoke with them about the issue of rising anti-Semitism and said, “We are together in the war against anti-Semitism, and today we are stronger than ever.” He went on to note that the campaign to boycott and impose sanctions on Israel was “an expression of anti-Semitism”.
The President of the FCJE, Isaac Querub, told Rivlin of the experiences of the community living in Spain, and said that it was a difficult time with a sense that “United Spain is under threat, as well as the fabric of coexistence, and social and economic stability in the country.”
He stressed, “We need Israel, and Israel can always rely on our support.”