President Reuven Rivlin arrives in Spain. (Haim Zach/GPO) (Haim Zach/GPO)
Rivlin Spain

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin highlighted the relationship between Israel and Spain, while focusing on the challenges facing the Jewish community in the country. 

President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin departed on Sunday for a four-day state visit to Spain, at the invitation of Spain’s King Felipe VI.

During the visit, which marks 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Rivlin is also marking 100 years since the reestablishment of the Jewish community in Spain after the Christian Expulsion of 1492.

Before departing, Rivlin said that the trip “is an historic and important visit to a country which is a true friend, and which represents the deep friendship between our peoples. Israel and Spain are bound by a shared past.”

Prime ministers Felipe Gonzalez and the late Shimon Peres laid the foundations three decades ago for the future and established diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“This relationship will receive a special endorsement in this upcoming visit. We must realize the unique potential inherent in our relationship; a relationship based on shared values and vision, along with ability and strength,” Rivlin declared.

A delegation of senior Israeli business figures headed by the Israeli Manufacturers’ Association and its president Shraga Brosh are part of Rivlin’s entourage. Rivlin will oversee the signing of a number of cooperation agreements, with the aim of deepening the bilateral trade cooperation between the two countries.

Fighting BDS’ Anti-Semitism in Spain

Rivlin met on Sunday evening with leaders of Spain’s Jewish community, and took part in a special event hosted by the community at Madrid’s Ibn Gavriol School.

He remarked “with great joy” that the Jewish community in Spain numbers 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 declared.

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,” Rivlin said. “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.”

Relating to the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) movement, which has a strong presence in Spain, Rivlin said that “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.”

“We are brothers, let us stand together,” Rivlin concluded.

The BDS movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts of Israel, ostensibly as a nonviolent protest against the so-called “Israeli occupation.” Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism and that its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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