Mazel Tov! Spain Welcomes Back Jewish Exiles Banished During Inquisition

by Jane Jones | 02.12.14 12:58pm

If you’re descended from Jews expelled from Spain in the 15th century, and you've got a hankering to return to the motherland, has the Spanish parliament got news for you!

Yup, Spain wants to help right a 700+ year wrongdoing (ya know, forcing all Jews to convert to Christianity or get the hell out) — by welcoming back the offspring of exiled Sephardic (meaning originally Spanish) Jews without making them renounce their current-country citizenship. If the proposed bill is approved, it could apply to as many as 3.5 million Jews spread out over Israel, Latin America, Turkey, the US, and other parts of Europe.

The specific criteria for proving their lineage has not been laid out—this could obviously have a significant impact on who would be able to take advantage of the offer—but Spain’s Jewish community has praised the move as a step toward righting a huge injustice.

The Spaniards newfound geniality follows in the wake of a number of countries that are encouraging the return of diasporas—Ireland gives citizenship to people with Irish grandparents, Armenia grants dual citizenship to ethnic Armenians in other countries, and Israel’s long-standing 'right of return' grants citizenship to to all Jews.  

The effort is probably motivated by several not-so-kumbaya factors as well: in addition to righting historical wrongs, Spain may be motivated to slow the bleeding of population loss caused by its distressed economy. There's also — shocker! — some politics involved; pending politicians may be hoping to avoid anti-immigrant backlash currently prevalent throughout Europe.

One thing's for sure, you can always trust politicians to pair their grandiose ethical gestures with calculated pragmatism.

(Image: commons.wikimedia.com)

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