Spain's most important Jewish event in almost 500 years began in Madrid on Saturday (4 December).
Spain's most important Jewish event in almost 500 years began in Madrid on Saturday (4 December). It's a gathering of the European branch of the World Jewish Congress which is meeting in Spain for the first time.
SYNOPSIS: Spain's a predominantly Roman Catholic country and all Jews were expelled by Queen Isabella in 1492. Britain's Lord Fisher of Camden opened the meeting.
Senor Halioua and other delegates spent much of the session discussing the plight of the three and a half million Soviet Jews. Some argued in favour of establishing contact with Soviet Jewish leaders, but others argued that the leaders were too closely lined to the government, and that contact with them could harm the cause of the Jewish activists. The congress is being attended by delegates from Rumania and Yugoslavia as well as West european countries. Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary have sent observers, but there none from the Soviet Union.
Possible plans by Spain and Israel to establish diplomatic relations were the subject of a demonstration by Arab students outside the meeting. About 100 students waving Palestinian flags shouted "Zionism is Fascism", but they dispersed quietly at the request of the police. Lord Fisher said he hoped the two countries would establish closer ties and that Spain would not, in future, vote in international forums "against the vital interests of the Jewish state." He said the world Jewry knew and understood Spain's relationship with Arab countries and good Spanish-Jewish relations wouldn't affect this.