Monday, February 10, 2014

The missing angle to Spanish politician Monago’s anti-Jewish rant

The recent anti-Jewish rant by Jose Antonio Monago, head of Extremadura’s regional government, did not go unnoticed in the international press. However, some media outlets, such as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), missed part of the story. The message below explained to them how Spanish nationalists like Monago hate both Catalonia and Israel.

A key detail missing in your piece on Spanish politician Monago's anti-Jewish rant

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing with regard to your piece on Jose Antonio Monago's anti-Jewish comments. The text mentions, as its context, "budget negotiations", which while not completely of the mark may fail to provide your readers with an accurate picture of what prompted Mr Monago to utter his insults.

The negotiations he was referring to were rather on the distribution of tax resources among the different autonomous regions, not the Spanish Government budget. Mr Monago heads the autonomous region of Extremadura, and has often accused Catalonia of behaving selfishly towards his region and more widely Spain proper. This is in spite of Catalonia making a net contribution to the Spanish treasury worth 9% of her GDP, according to independent studies.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. For Spanish nationalits like Monago, Israel, and the Jewish people in general, are often a proxy for Catalonia. They are hostile to both nations and often refer to them in the same terms. This is one of the reasons why successive Spanish governments, made up of different parties, have been hostile to the State of Israel, criticizing it and supporting, by word and deed, a number of organizations calling for its destruction. This includes, among others, extensive financial subsidies to Lebanese Hizbullah. You may recall how Spain was reluctant to stablish full diplomatic relations with Israel in the 1980s, while on the other hand then Catalan Prime Minister Jordi Pujol officially visited the country. He was no exception. Catalans have always looked up to the Jewish people as an example of resilience, hard work, and a desire to preserve one's culture, language and identity. You may also recall the recent official trip by Catalan Prime Minister Artur Mas to Israel. Justice Minister Gordó also visited the country last year.

Catalonia is currently working to open a direct air link between Lleida's Alguaire Airport, you can find some details in this short article, where I noted how "Israel inspires Catalonia in her quest for freedom, while an independent Catalonia will contribute to Israeli national security. In the economic arena, both trade and investment are growing, and the same can be said about scientific and technical cooperation. Should Alguaire Airport's plans be successful, this would facilitate further growth in Israeli tourism in Catalonia. Beyond its immediate economic impact, it would be another stepping stone toward a comprehensive partnership between two natural allies in the Mediterranean."

For all these reasons, I would like to ask you to please add a couple of lines to your article, providing the necessary context for readers to understand why Monago was insulting Jews. For him, Catalans and Jews are the same, enemies to be insulted at all times. Spain despises Israel, and works against her national security. Catalonia looks up to Israel, and sees herself as a natural ally of the country.

Yours faithfully,


Alex Calvo

Guest professor, Nagoya University (Japan)

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