Wednesday, March 06, 2013

New Spanish citizens may keep existing passports

 A scene from the Spanish Inquisition

The BBC has just caught up with this story that Jews (and  conversos who may not be considered Jewish by a Beth Din) of Sephardi origin will be able to acquire Spanish nationality. It is expected that applicants will not have to renounce their existing nationality:

In total, about 100,000 Jews fled Spain in the course of the 15th Century. Some went to North Africa, but most settled in the economic powerhouse of the day, the Ottoman Empire - which then stretched from Hungary to Turkey, and beyond that to the south, and was expanding.

About 90% of Jews in modern-day Turkey are Sephardic Jews. Roni Rodrigue, 55, a car dealer in Istanbul, has already claimed his Spanish passport.

"I just thought I have a right to apply for citizenship, so why not."

He did this four years ago, under a pre-existing scheme, and got his papers in 11 months - though some of his friends have been waiting years.

Rodrigue has no plans to move to Spain, and has only been there twice, but says he still feels a connection.

He's a speaker of a dying language, Ladino. It's specific to Sephardic Jews and based on old Spanish, with words borrowed from Hebrew and the many countries in which they have settled since.
Rodrigue's parents spoke Ladino to each other but it has not been passed on to his children, or to most of the new generation of Sephardic Jews around the world.

It's not uncommon, though, for Sephardic Jews to feel the pull of Spain.
"I'm still Spanish in my soul and in my heart," says one British Sephardic Jew, who asked not to be named.

He's building a house in Spain, has bought land, and even a plot in which to be buried.
Like Carvajal, he's been left disappointed by the existing rules for acquiring citizenship, and stands to benefit from the new system.

He successfully went through the process to gain Spanish citizenship some time ago, but says he withdrew his application at the very end, when he discovered he would have to give up his British passport to complete the process - something he was not prepared to do.

The proposed new law, if passed, is expected to allow all new citizens of Sephardic origin to keep their existing passports.

It is well known that when Spain expelled the Jews in 1492 it had a disastrous effect on the economy - many were wealthy textile traders, jewellers and bankers.

"At the time of the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan was said to have commented that he couldn't understand why a great Spanish king like Ferdinand would go without the Jews - who were such a source of wealth - and just give them to him," says Maria Josep Estanyol, a historian at the University of Barcelona.

"The Sultan was very pleased to receive these Jewish families, who went on to enrich his empire."
For decades, there has been a movement to allow Sephardic Jews to return, but it is unclear why the Spanish government has chosen to bring up the issue again now.

In theory, enticing them back now could give a boost to Spain's shrinking economy, although Estanyol doubts very many will re-establish roots in Spain.

"Given how disastrous things are here today, I'd advise against it," she says.

Read article in full 

Spain receives 6,000 enquiries about citizenship

2 comments:

Mozaffar Javed said...

Eclipse heals wounds of Spanish Inquisition http://bit.ly/12tU6Lt

Empress Trudy said...

You should never forget that the primary target of the Inquisition was not the observant Jews but the conservos, 'new Christians' and anousim. They felt safe having denied their faith history and beliefs. How wrong they were. The observant Jews were kicked out of the country in 1492 but at least they were alive.