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January 19: Spain Recognizes Israel -- in 1986

Lawrence Bush
January 19, 2017
Spain recognized the State of Israel for the first time on this date in 1986. The dictator Franco had withheld recognition from the country’s founding, citing the “contubernio judeo-masónico,” a mythical international conspiracy of Jews and Freemasons against Spain, after Israel voted against lifting sanctions against fascist Spain in 1949. The first post-fascist Spanish government, headed by Adolfo Suárez, withheld recognition without Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian lands. The next government was paralyzed by its Arabist foreign minister, José Pedro Pérez-Llorca, who went on to become an advisor to Kuwait. It took the election of a socialist government headed by Felipe Gonzalez for Spain to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, and in 2000, Spain lifted its veto on Israel’s admission to the Western European Group of the United Nations, which ended Israel’s administrative limbo. Spanish history, of course, includes powerful cultural ties to Sephardic Jewry and powerful strains of religious antisemitism (Inquisition, expulsion, etc.). Spanish history also includes powerful cultural ties to Arabic and Islamic culture and powerful strains of animosity towards the Arab Muslim world. The country remains a steadfast advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “At least 149 countries officially recognize Israel, though a number of countries have suspended or severed their diplomatic relations. Twenty-five countries have never recognized Israel.” --Jewish Virtual Library

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.