Israeli cultural events cancelled in Spain for political reasons
Following the events in Gaza, more and more local authorities in Spain take a hard line against Israel; in Oveido, several events have been cancelled; Valencia passed a decision to become a place 'clean from Israeli apartheid'; leader of radical Left party: Israel is 'illegal.'
The local producer of the concert, which was set to take place in Oviedo this fall, received an official notice from the municipality saying the event's cancellation was the result of a political decision not to hold Israeli activity in the city.
Oviedo also cancelled an Israeli ballet performance.
The Oviedo municipality used to be very friendly towards Israel, but over the past three years it has been governed by a left-wing coalition, which includes extreme left partners. Now, the Israeli Embassy in Madrid reports a lack of cooperation from the city.
This time, however, the Israeli Embassy wasn't involved in the planning or funding of the orchestra concert.
This incident is part of a broader trend that the Israeli Embassy has been witnessing in Spain in different aspects—municipal, cultural and academic—which is gaining momentum in light of recent events in Gaza and political changes in the country: the dismissal of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy by a vote of no confidence and the appointment of a new leader, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, from the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (SWP).
The socialists, in order to survive, have to keep the support of their coalition partners—the radical left-wing Podemos party, which has been at the forefront of all Israeli boycott initiatives in municipalities all across Spain and is demanding a tough line against Israel from the government.
The municipality of Valencia, also governed by a left-wing coalition made up of the Podemos party and the SWP, has approved at the beginning of the month a decision to declare itself as a place “clean from the Israeli apartheid,” which will boycott Israel both culturally and economically.
During the vote, 17 out 33 municipality members supported the decision, while 16 opposed. The official proposal expressed solidarity and complete support for the Palestinians while vehemently criticized Israel.
The Israeli Embassy has held talks with the SWP representatives to scrap the move but the talks collapsed. The deputy mayor told the embassy’s representatives that the images coming out of Gaza have swayed the public opinion against Israel.
Eventually, following great pressure from the radical left, the proposal was passed by a small margin of one voice. The municipality’s decision is very concerning for Israel, especially Israeli firms that operate in the city, although so far the decision has no practical meaning.
Sources in the embassy warn that soon other municipalities might follow suit.
The previous Spanish government has taken measures against the phenomenon, but over the past few years, dozens of Spanish cities adopted policies boycotting Israel amid pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).
However, following the actions of pro-Israeli organizations, including court petitions or threats of lawsuits, the decisions have been reverted in 24 cities.
Pablo Iglesias Turrión, the leader of Podemos—the third largest Spanish party—told a TV station that Israel is a criminal state, “Spain needs to act more decisively against an illegal state like Israel...Our party defines the existence of Israel as illegitimate,” Turrión asserted.
One pro-Israeli group in Spain said that Turrión’s sentiments are anti-Semitic since his party does not call any other state besides Israel as “illegal.” The organization announced they have filed a lawsuit against the municipality of Valencia.
The Spanish courts, including the Supreme Court, have dismissed 16 anti-Israeli boycott decisions that were passed at a municipal level. Additional seven municipalities have reversed the decision voluntarily.