Spanish citizenship offer lures Sephardic Jews

A Spanish initiative that would offer citizenship to Sephardic Jews as a gesture of conciliation for Spain’s expulsion of Jews during the Inquisition has sparked off great interest in Israel.

The legislation was first presented in November 2012 by Spain’s foreign and justice ministers as a conciliatory gesture toward Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors were expelled in 1492 in one of the darkest chapters in Spanish history.

Victims of the Spanish Inquisition

The land known as Sefarad had once been a refuge for them. Many who refused to convert to Christianity fled to north Africa or Italy. Some went to Portugal, only to be forcibly converted or expelled again. Converts who stayed became a target of the Spanish Inquisition.

Draft bill approved

The Spanish government approved a draft citizenship bill on February 7, 2014, offering citizenship to anyone, Jewish or not, whose Sephardic origins can be certified. The bill would also remove some existing requirements that include the need for applicants to renounce their current citizenship.

The bill requires final approval from the Spanish Parliament, which could make changes, but approval is expected to be a formality, as the conservative government has a majority.

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