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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

The Break
Thursday, October 26, 2023 @ 10:13 AM

I write a weekly bulletin of news and opinion about Spain for subscribers. It's called Business over Tapas - short and useful items about life in Spain aimed at those who would like to know more about this country (that's to say: prices, rules, regulations, politics and finance).

Right now, I'm taking a month off to visit my son in Oklahoma: no bulletin and no posts on Eye on Spain for November.

This week's editorial over at the BoT follows (it will soon be out of date, but the Spanish view-point will likely remain):

         ...           ...

Although Israel was officially born on 14th May 1948, Spain and Israel only signed diplomatic relations on the 17th January 1986. The forty-year lacuna might have been, in part, because Spain didn’t want to sour its relationship with Arab countries. Spain, however, still doesn’t recognise Palestine as a state, despite efforts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although it ‘enjoys excellent relations with the Palestinian National Authority’ – the Fatah agency in partial control of the region.

Today, and in contrast to most of the western world, the Spanish media could be described as being lukewarm towards its support of Israel in the current conflict. The politics here are more concerned with trading blows between the (pro-Palestine) left and the (mildly pro-Israel) right than what might be Spain’s official position in the Middle East (which is, more or less, spreading criticism equally between Hamas and Netanyahu). 

Spain, having been largely under Moorish domination for seven hundred years, and being the closest point in Western Europe to North Africa, is more sensitive to the Arabs than – perhaps – to a regime which is located far away at the other end of the Mediterranean.

But here, we shall only talk of the Israel/Palestine struggle (for land) as it affects Spain.

Thus, the right wing must confront the left – if the Basque EH Bildu party asks for the release of the Spanish hostage Iván Illarramendi (he’s a Basque) held by Hamas, then naturally El Español will write that ETA used to hold hostages too.

The official PP website claims that Alberto Núñez Feijóo would have gone – as president of both Spain and the European Union – to both Israel and Palestine for talks, however as things stand today, “nobody expects or can rely upon Spanish participation’’ (Pedro Sánchez was in Egypt about the same time that Feijóo made his constructive remarks – preaching for restraint at the ‘Cairo For Peace’ meeting held on Saturday, October 21st. Furthermore, Sánchez also phoned Netanyahu the next day asking for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza).

After the Podemos leader and acting Minister of Social Security Ione Belarra called for Spanish support of Palestine and for Pedro Sánchez to ‘condemn Israel’, Núñez Feijóo reacted by saying that Sánchez must instantly relieve her of her position but, alas, the socialist leader needs their approval (Podemos has five votes within the Sumar alliance) to make the looming investiture work.

Vox says it wants to cut all official Spanish aid to Palestine.

Sumar wants the Government to recognise the Palestinian state as soon as possible.

Spaniards, according to a poll at 20Minutos, are split in their sympathies: 43% favour Israel and 47% favour Palestine - more or less divided (as above) along political lines.

The tragic situation is getting far worse by the day, while the terrible ongoing events in Ukraine - short of Putin pressing the Red Button - are pushed to the inside pages.

How will things progress and will Pedro Sánchez be able to return to power in the upcoming debate and vote for the presidency?

With poor timing, I shall be taking a vacation for November – to stay with my son in far-off Oklahoma: where the talk is all of Trump, abortion and guns. I look forward to enjoying a Thanksgiving turkey and my seventieth birthday over there before returning home at the beginning of December.

Maybe by then, things will have settled down.  

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