While the rest of Europe marked the UN-established International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, a small town in Spain opted instead to commemorate the 'Day of Palestinian Genocide'.
Ciempozuelos, a Madrid suburb home to less than 20,000 residents, announced that it would hold ceremonies and public events in honor of the 'genocide of the Palestinian people'.
Following the town's announcement Israel's Ambassador to Spain Victor Harel issued an urgent message to Ciempozeulos mayor Susana León, a member of the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), asking him to reconsider his decision. Harel also turned to Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Moratinos and the PSOE secretary general.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) publicly slammed the decision as "shameful."
In an open letter to León the ADL wrote: "Applying the term 'genocide' to the Arab-Israeli conflict encourages hatred toward the State of Israel and deliberately insults those of us, both Jews and non-Jews, who seek to solemnly commemorate the victims of the Nazi campaign of slaughter."
The affair was covered extensively by the Spanish press. El Mundo, the country's largest daily newspaper, ran an editorial on the Ciempozeulos affair under the title – 'An insult to Israel'.
The coverage led to numerous Spanish citizens contacting the Israeli embassy to voice their support for Israel, while at the same time the Ciempozeulos administration was flooded by angry phone calls from outraged citizens.
Following the request of the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry the town eventually decided to cancel 'Palestinian Genocide Day' as well as choosing to forgo any of the original Holocaust ceremonies.
Any trace of the affair was stricken from the town's official website.
"The pain does not only belong to one people," said Mayor León, adding that he was sorry for any distress that may have been caused.