In a rather unique act of local government action, paired only in scale perhaps by the Ben & Jerry’s scandal, the city of Barcelona has severed a town-twinning agreement with Tel Aviv and called on Israel to improve its human rights record in occupied Palestine.
El Pais described the Mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, as coming to the decision following a campaign by more than 100 rights groups, hundreds of journalists, and 4,000 residents in the city who in turn were organized under a group called Organisations for Global Justice.
They organized the petition after air strikes in Gaza killed at least 260 people in May of 2021 with “no apparent military target”.
Colau sent a letter to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu explaining the temporary suspension of relations “until the Israeli authorities put an end to the system of violations of the Palestinian people and fully comply with the obligations imposed on them by international law”.
The letter comes after Sunday saw the 9th child murdered by Israeli Security Forces since the start of 2023.
Barcelona was twinned in a three-way twinning ceremony with Tel Aviv and Gaza following the 1993 Oslo Accords signed by Israel and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to create the vaunted two-state solution.
History bears out that this was nothing less than a Knesset holding strategy to demolish more towns and homes and build more settlements in the occupied territories. Last May,Al Jazeera estimated that 700,000 Jewish settlers, up from 30,000 at the time of the accords, currently live in the occupied territories.
It’s anti-Semitism stupid
In 2021 after decades of oppression under Israeli occupation, Human Rights Watch’s special rapporteur for Palestine published a report detailing that Israel was an apartheid state and that the government had committed the crime against humanity of apartheid. Israeli peace organization B’Tselem published a similar report that year called “Apartheid from the River to the Sea”.
El Pais reports that the Catalan capital city has been deeply divided by the decision, and in an interesting journalistic exercise, the Spanish periodical had two of their opinion writers publish a for-or-against editorial.
The in-favor-of piece simply states what the UN, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem reports say is happening, and quotes that Mayoress Colau’s decision was taken against a regime, not against a “nation, people, or religion”.
The in-opposition-of piece must be said to be profoundly snide, and instead of focusing on recent years’ accusations of human rights crimes, focuses on Israel’s foundation by Jews fleeing international socialism and the holocaust. Its point lies fundamentally in the author’s views that as a mayor, it’s “infantile” to take a foreign policy stance towards a government she dislikes since she has no power to make foreign policy decisions.
Similarly, Colau’s colleague and mayor of Madrid, José Luís Martínez Almeida, said he saw in the decision “an anti-Semitic stink”.
“It so happens that Israel is the only Jewish country in the world,” the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain wrote in a statement. “Therefore, in our opinion, this decision has nothing to do with politics, human rights, or peace. This has a name and is called ‘Sophisticated anti-Semitism’”.
ACOM another pro-Israel Spanish group stated Barcelona was “becoming the most openly anti-Semitic city in Europe,” and added, “Colau and her accomplices have a problem and that problem is called anti-Semitism”.
The European Jewish Congress slammed the twinning decision as “motivated by deep-seated anti-Israel bias” and Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat denounced it as giving “support to extremists, terrorist organizations and anti-Semitism”.
There has been no disputing over facts cited in Colau’s decision, nor over her allegations of violations of international law. WaL
PICTURED ABOVE: Ada Colau, Mayoress of Barcelona CC 3.0.