March 3, 2020

King Felipe VI omits to apologize for expulsion of the Jews from Spain

Spain’s King Felipe VI takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the World Holocaust Forum marking 75 years since the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz, at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre in Jerusalem January 23, 2020.

(photo credit: REUTERS)
On March 31, 1992, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the issuance of an edict by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordering the expulsion of Jews from Spain, King Juan Carlos I paid an historic visit at the Madrid synagogue. Wearing a white yarmulke, the monarch prayed together with the late president Chaim Herzog for peace and brotherhood.

In his speech, Juan Carlos stated, “May hatred and intolerance never again provoke expulsion or exileOn the contrary, let us be capable of building a prosperA day later, the prestigious Spanish newspaper El Pais published a lucid chronicle of the visit, authored by Ignacio Cembrero. The first paragraph of the article read, “In his visit to the Madrid synagogue, Don Juan Carlos did not apologize for the expulsion of the Jews 500 years ago.”

Cembrero points out that the monarch went on by portraying the gathering as “endearing to the crown as it represents the encounter between the king and the Spanish Jews.” He added, “The king barely mentioned in his speech the forced departure from the peninsula of hundreds of thousands of Jews, which he did not justify, but explained as a consequence of a state reason, which saw religious uniformity as the pillar of its unity.”

Twenty eight years later, the omission by the monarch of that time was reiterated by his son and successor, the reigning king of Spain.

On January 22, in accordance to the rules of protocol seniority, King Felipe VI was in charge of giving the first speech at the Fifth International Holocaust Forum, a major international gathering that took place in Jerusalem with the attendance of heads of state and government from over 40 countries who came to commemorate the 75 anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp.

The king’s speech, which was the only one made at the opening dinner at President Reuven Rivlin’s residence, underscored “the commitment of all the participating leaders in this forum to stay alert in order to prevent the recurrence of any future atrocities,” and stressed that “forgetting the Holocaust would be extremely dangerous and an utter disrespect to the memory of the victims.” He ended his speech with the words “Never again.”ous Spain in peace among ourselves on the basis of concord and mutual respect…. That is my fervent wish. Peace for all. Shalom.”