Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Anti-Semitism in the European Union: Spain

(Updated December 2003)

In Spain (total population 40 million) Jews were recognised as full citizens in 1978. Today the Jewish population numbers about 40,000, 20,000 of whom are registered in the Jewish communities. The majority live in the larger cities of Spain on the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa or the islands. Many of the prejudices cultivated during the Franco years persist; during that time Israel was never recognised. Israel and Spain did not establish diplomatic ties until 1986, when Spain recognised the State of Israel. Many young Spaniards consider support of the PLO a crucial qualification for being identified as “progressive” or leftist.

Since the beginning of the second Intifada more and more anti-Semitic attacks are taking place, mainly after pro-Palestinian demonstrations. In October 2000 the Holocaust Memorial in Barcelona was desecrated and the glass door of Spanish-Moroccan synagogue in the North African enclave of Ceuta destroyed and anti-Semitic pamphlets distributed across the market place. On 8 October, the most important Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, graffiti was smeared across a house belonging to the local Jewish association in Oviedo that read “Jew murderers”. An incident had taken place the day before during the football match between Spain and Israel outside the stadium in Madrid. Neo-Nazis shouted anti-Semitic slogans and distributed anti-Semitic literature. Also, windows of the main synagogue in Madrid were shattered on 13 October. The Imam of Valencia asserted on 21 September 2001 in a mosque filled with worshipers: “All the evidence shows that the Jews are guilty”, referring to the claim by radical Islamists, right-wing extremists and Holocaust deniers that Jews were behind the attacks in New York and Washington on 11 September. In September 2001 the synagogue of Melilla was attacked and a Jewish cemetery desecrated; in Ceuta several Jewish buildings were daubed with paint.

1. Physical acts of violence

On 5 January 2002, anti-Semitic graffiti was found on the door of a synagogue in Madrid; around midnight of 8 March 2002, the door of the Ceuta synagogue was set on fire. The synagogue of Madrid is now under permanent police surveillance and Jewish schools are also provided with police surveillance at the beginning and end of activities.

2. Verbal Aggression/hate speech

Direct Threats

In July outside the synagogue in Madrid, a group of twenty skinheads demonstrated, shouting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slogans.

Public Discourse

The Movimiento Social Republicano (MSR), which on other occasions joins xenophobic protests against Muslims (for example against the opening of a Moroccan consulate in Almeria), participated in pro-Palestinian demonstrations organised by radical Islamists and NGOs, where the participants also displayed anti-American attitudes. The mass media often confuses Israel and the Jewish community.

On 7 April 2002, a pro-Palestinian demonstration attracted official representatives from all Catalan political parties, except the conservative PP, and a total of 7000 people in Barcelona. One demonstrator, who appeared clearly in a photograph taken, was carrying a caricature of Ariel Sharon’s head on a pig’s body (traditional anti-Semitic stereotype), which is surrounded by swastikas.


A series of international right-wing extremist and revisionist/denial homepages offer links in Spanish. Particular attention is to be given to the website of the “Nuevo Order” group that is networked per links with the entire far-right scene and whose label shows a similarity with the American militant far-right group “Stormfront”. “Nuevo Order” combines anti-Semitism with anti-Americanism and mixes old with modern anti-Semitic stereotypes. The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” can be downloaded here as well as at the linked site belonging to the “Fuerza Aria”. The “Fuerza Aria”, a group that spreads extreme rightist and National Socialist thought, conducts campaigns via the Internet “Against the Jewish Power” and propagates a pro-Palestinian and pro-Iraqi stance.

3. Research Studies

The survey commissioned by the ADL conducted between 9 and 29 September 2002 concerning “European Attitudes towards Jews, Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” (see Table: Report on Belgium) established that Spanish respondents harbour the most anti-Semitic view. 72% agreed to the statement “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country” (EU average: 51%) and 63 % to the statement “Jews have too much power in the business world”.

4. Good practices for reducing prejudice, violence and aggression

On 9 June 2002 the Evangelical Church and the Institute for Judeo-Christian Studies in Madrid together with the Jewish communities of Madrid and Barcelona organised a demonstration of support for Israel also as a sign against anti-Semitic attitudes.

5. Reactions by politicians and other opinion leaders

Newspapers have become more deliberate in their use of graphics, avoiding any assimilation between Nazi and Jew symbols. The Spanish Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey, together with his colleagues from Germany, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom, presented a joint declaration against “Racism, Xenophobia and anti-Semitism” in April 2002.

Sources: C.R.I.F. - Released by the European Jewish Congress