Catalan Jews Stand Against Nazism Banalisation

Aquest article s’hauria d’haver publicat en anglès al diari Haaretz, d’Israel entre avui i demà, però finalment me l’han rebutjat, segons ells perquè “l’anglès que faig servir és difícil de seguir” – que pot ser – i també perquè es tracta d’un “tema sensible”.

Potser això últim us haurà recordat la bronca que hi ha hagut entre l’ambaixador espanyol a Israel i el Jerusalem Post per l’editorial que va fer demanant el dret a vot dels catalans, però en el meu cas he de dir que hi ha hagut un procés d’edició bastant a consciència del text, tot i això, finalment no ha passat el tall.

Que cadascú tregui les seves conclusions.

ENGLISH: This article should have been published in English on the Israeli newspaper Haaretz between today and tomorrow, but at last it has been rejected, according to them because “my English is difficult to follow” – it may be – and because it’s a “sensitive topic”.

Maybe the latter may have reminded you the argument between the Spanish ambassador in Israel and the Jerusalem Post because the editorial asking for the right to vote for the Catalans, but in my case I have to say that it has been a very conscious edition process of the article. Although that, it did not pass the cut.

Draw your own conclusions.

The jewish community in Catalonia raised a claim to the Catalan Parliament against the “absolutely irresponsible and partisan use of the terms ‘nazi’ and ‘nazism'” from certain politicians and certain media. Victor Sorensen, from the Barcelona Israelite Community (CIB) states “Now we are the second and third generation of jews in Catalonia and we are pretty much integrated to the Catalan society. The participative process held last sunday was very determinant for the jewish community in Catalonia. The answer from those political sectors, who tag the Catalan independence process as ‘nazi’ is really dangerous.”

The simile between the Catalan independentism and nazism has been recurrent for the last years. The radio announcer Federico Jimenez Losantos, was one of the first journalists who started the hate speech against catalans, tagging them as “nazis”, specially when it comes to the linguistic immersion in the Catalan schools – a system imported from Israel. Unionist sectors denounce that the linguistic immersion is “nazi”, in the sense that causes a “breach” between Catalan speakers and non-catalan speakers. According to the statistics, 99% of the people living in Catalonia understands Catalan. Losantos has been sued several times by several Catalan associations and political parties, like the pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, for defamation. Its representative in the Spanish Congress, Joan Tardà, has been insulted several times in the media as a “nazi”. He laments that “except Spain, all the actual democracies who lived the sadness to live a totalitarian past, sooner or later have done their homework. Sooner or later they found the way to repair the victims and put the truth forward”.

Nevertheless, in the European Parliament some gestures have been done already against hate speech and banalisation of nazism. German EuroMP Ingeborg Grässle, from the CDU party, scolded her Spanish colleague Beatriz Becerra, (UPyD party), because Becerra sent a letter to the Eurochamber tagging the Catalan voting day of last sunday as “nazi”. “Banalising nazism is a shame for the victims”, stated Grässle to the Catalan News Agency. “Any German politician would have to resign immediately if they speak this kind of language”. Nevertheless, in Spain these kind of comments have no consequences. Tomas Morgenstern, director of the ATID Jewish Community of Catalonia says that “we have seen clearly how politicians from both left and right-wing, they have compared more than once the independence intentions of the Catalan government with nazism, banalising one of the darkest periods of recent History”.

Hate speech in Spain is not punishable per law, and police uses prerogatives very loosely. To put it in an example: while Real Madrid supporters have been caught red-handed on several occasions bearing swastikas and other fascist symbols, even inside the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, no police investigation have been done ever on who is bearing those symbols and no prosecution has acted. Two weeks ago, Real Madrid delivered to their members a file showing them nazi symbology not to be worn at the stadium. On the other hand, a Joventut de Badalona supporter who went to Zaragoza to watch a basketball match, was detained and beaten by the police, who accused him to “public disturbance”. He was holding an “estelada”, the Catalan independentist flag. Supporters from CAI Zaragoza and Joventut booed the action and the boards from both clubs condemned the arrest. What is more, connections between police and far-right movements in Spain have been proved several times. It is not rare to see police protecting openly fascist, antisemite demonstrations while, at the same time, charges against anti-fascist demonstrators.

Especially now, with the independence process going on, fascism and nazism have become more visible in the media. “Although that, they don’t have power enough to attract people” says Bertrán Cazorla, a  journalist who has investigated and followed closely the far-right movements in Catalonia. “In Catalonia, for those far-right movements, the strategy to increase their strength that works it doesn’t goes well with the traditional kind of far-right aesthetics, it works better on parties shaped like the French Front National or the Dutch Freedom Party, like Plataforma per Catalunya”. Cazorla says that usually the “traditional” far-right movements tend to “talk a lot”, this is, they do a lot of hate speech and menaces, but when it comes time, they do little. He puts as an example Pedro Pablo Peña, a noticeable fascist leader who has been in jail for assassination. “He menaced to blow up the voting day last Sunday” explains Cazorla, “but he didn’t show up when the nazis burned all the ‘estelades’ and we was neither in Girona, attacking the voters and kicking up the ballot boxes”. In Spain flag-burning is punishable with 7 to 12 months of jail, and it is so for all the official flags, but the truth is that when it comes to a catalan flag, nor the police neither the judges, just simply don’t act.

The jewish delegation who brought the claim to the Catalan Parliament hopes that with the proposal of this motion, that has already been accepted by the legislative house, an enforcement of the Spanish penal code to punish the banalisation of the Holocaust and the nazism, and a new program for all the Catalan schools for the children to understand what nazism and the Holocaust mean on History. Morgenstern finishes: “Finally the time has come when jewish communities we said enough”.