President Reuven Rivlin warned of rising anti-Semitism in Spain on Sunday during a meeting with leaders of Spain’s Jewish community.
Rivlin attended a special event at Madrid’s Ibn Gavriol School hosted by the head of the Jewish community in the Spanish capital, David Hatchwell, and the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, Isaac Querub.
"Today's community is a magnificent one, with tens of thousands of members of all ages," said Rivlin in his address. "Jewish life on the Iberian Peninsula, which was cut off more than five hundred years ago, is now full of life, and this is a great joy. This is a great victory for history and the spirit of the Jewish people."
Rivlin cited the reported spike in recent anti-Semitic activity in Spain and Portugal. "According to the Spanish Interior Minister's report on anti-Semitism, in recent years there has been a rise of hundreds of percent in manifestations of anti-Semitism in Spain," he said, adding that "we must not surrender to anti-Semitism, we must fight it. I am pleased that the Spanish government is taking steps in legislation and enforcement against this ugly phenomenon."
"We must not be ashamed of or hide our identity," the president continued. "We must not be ashamed of the connection between the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I know that there are concerns, and fears of terrorism against Jews, and of anti-Semitism, which poses as criticism against Israel. We will fight these challenges together."
Rivlin went on to address current anti-Israeli BDS movement, as well as anti-Semitic rhetoric around the globe. "The State of Israel today operates an extensive network to combat anti-Semitism disguised as the delegitimization of Israel, to fight hatred of Jews disguised as a criticism of Israeli government policy: these bodies are at your disposal, they are also here for you." He added that the BDS movement in general is "an expression of anti-Semitism."
During the ceremony, Rivlin unveiled a plaque to be affixed to the entrance of the school, commemorating his State Visit to Spain and marking 100 years since the reestablishment of the Jewish community in the country since the expulsion in 1492.
Spain's Jewish community includes some 40,000 people, with 14,000 of them living in Madrid.
"We are brothers," concluded Rivlin as he addressed the local Jewish community. "Let us stand together."
Earlier, Rivlin met with Jewish community leaders to discuss rising anti-Semitism, particularly in light of Catalonia's current struggle for secession from greater Spain, which is thought to possibly bring about anti-Semitic acts as part of a general wave of violence. "We are together in the war against anti-Semitism, and today we are stronger than ever," Rivlin told them.