The Embassy of Spain in Israel hosted a celebration in honor of the National Day of Spain, on October 22. Diplomats, expats, and Israelis with commercial or cultural links to Spain joined the celebration, held at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv.
The formal portion of the evening began with the anthems of Israel and Spain. H.E. Manuel Gómez-Acebo opened his remarks by pledging a significant Spanish presence at Yad Vashem in January for 75th the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz. The ambassador noted that Spain takes anti-semitism very seriously, both in legislation, and law enforcement, as well as in promoting education about the Holocaust.
Ambassador Gomez-Acebo highlighted several achievements in Israeli-Spanish relations. First, the Royal Spanish Academy approved unanimously to include the National Academy of Judeo-Spanish (Ladino). Moreover, the international Congress of Researchers of Spanish History was held in Jerusalem for the first time at the Hebrew University, with over 600 participants. The ambassador also noted that an Israeli academic, Professor Ruth Fine, was elected as chairperson of the congress.
This was also the end of the four year program by which Jews of Spanish descent whose families left were expelled in 1492 were eligible to receive Spanish citizenship. The ambassador informed the audience that over 132,000 Sephardic Jews have requested citizenship during this program. To mark this occasion the ambassador called up the oldest recipient of Spanish citizenship, and presented him with his new Spanish passport.
Following the ambassador’s speech, Minister of Tourism Yariv Lavin was called to speak on behalf of the Israeli government. The minister stunned the crowd by presenting his speech in fluent Spanish. Minister Levin cited the rich history of Jewish Spanish scholars, artists nad leaders, and their influence on greater Jewish society. He also mentioned contemporary Spanish culture, and the strong ties between Israel and Spain.
Following the speeches, the ambassador and the minister held a toast to the success of Spain and Israel. A flamenco guitarist then took the stage, and guests enjoyed dinner and the live music.
www.diplomacy.co.il salutes Spain on this important day and we wish to continue the close ties of friendship and cooperation with Israel