Date: Sun Nov 3, 2002 1:26 am
1. visits to website
2. Yair Davidiy: SPAIN AND THE JEWS
1. visits to website
Please feel free to visit our web site and browse through it.
You will be glad you did
From: Betty <betmatrho@e...>
The numbers below are the 2002 monthly totals of 'hits' for the britam.org
Yes, that is what the numbers reflect. November 1st (when I looked) there
was 69 hits - right now this minute it says 730 hits. And October - a big
month, saw over 15,000 hits. Hits are total files opened, incuding art work
and text both - for instance our 'home' page has 9 files on it (with artwork
and text). The 'hits' would also include my uploading to the site and
people using the search engine. Most websites with counters that register
into the thousands usually started their count at tens of thousands and
counting (usually) 'hits', which take into account all their artwork for
each page, etc.
Our count is done by the server and I don't have any control over it at
is a good program.
2. Yair Davidiy: SPAIN AND THE JEWS
An area on the West Coast of Spain is referred to in the Bible as Tarshish.
Some say that the name Tarshish could also be applied to the Atlantic Ocean
region in general. King Solomon together with the Phoenician King Hiram
Tyre sent ships to Tarshish. The prophet Yonah attempted to flee to
Tarshish. Spain at that time was relatively sparsely populated. After ca.
700 BCE a population of people of Phoenician culture came to Spain. They
bore Hebraic-like names and were pushed from the southeast coast to the
northwest and from there moved to the British Isles and Gaul. They had
arrived after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (in ca.
BCE) and Irish legends and other factors suggest that they may have been
Israelite descent. At all events their religious practices were largely
pagan and in that sense they were not Jewish.
These people had brought with them the knowledge of iron processing. After
the Phoenicians there was an upsurge in the cultural level of native
Spanish peoples as well as invasions of groups such as the Carthaginians
from North Africa. The Carthaginians believed themselves to be descended
from the ancient Canaanites whom the Israelites had driven out of the
Promised Land. The presence of this element in Spain could partly explain
the vicious anti-Semitism and outright sadism later displayed by a portion
of the Spanish population. In the north and west of Spain there later
emerged a people of Celtic culture.
The Romans and Christianity
The Romans first entered Spain in 218 BCE and after about a hundred years
had gained control of the whole country. In 312 CE the Roman Emperor
Constantine converted to Christianity and much of Spain followed in his
stead. Jewish influence in Spain at this stage is shown by the Church
Council of Elvira in 305 CE forbidding the Christians of Spain to live in
Jewish houses, or to eat with them, or for Jews to bless the produce of
The Goths Arrive
In 409 CE the Vandals, Suebi, and Alans invaded Spain. They were followed
by the Goths or Visigoths who subdued the country by 585 CE. The
Visigoths at first belonged to the Arian Church that disagreed with the
Roman Catholic one. They were pro-Jewish in many ways. Many Goths (of whom
the Visigoths were a section) converted to Judaism. The Goths also ruled
over southeast France in which area as well as in Spain the terms "Goth"
and "Jew" were for a time interchangeable.
Spain in the Bible and Descendants of David
Spain is mentioned in the Biblical Book of Obadiah 1:20: "The exiled of
Jerusalem who are in Sepharad": Targum Yehonathan translates "Sepharad"
"Aspamiah" meaning Spain. Rashi says, "These are the descendants of Judah
who were exiled to Sepharad…the translation of Sepharad is Aspamiah" [i.e.
Spain]. Rabbi Abraham Iben Ezra says that this is referring to the exile
Titus (the Roman Emperor who destroyed the Temple) of Jews to Spain. The
Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi) says the same. The Abarbanel says that whole
settlements in Spain were founded by exiles from Jerusalem who included
families descended from King David.
In 587 Recared, the Visigoth king in Spain, converted to Roman Catholicism
and at once began a persecution of the Jews. The persecution of the Jews
was partly due to a power struggle against the Visigoth nobility who
protected the Jews and used them as their agents. The king, the Church,
the common Spaniards were all against the nobility and by getting at the
Jews they were weakening the Visigoth aristocracy. A frontal attack on the
Visigoths was difficult since these already had a reputation for
assassinating their monarchs and were not happy with the change of religion.
The Muslim Invasion
In 711 the Moslems from North Africa invaded Spain and conquered most of
it. The Muslims consisted of Arabs and Berbers. In some areas they employed
Jews to help them garrison conquered areas. The Muslims were defeated in
France by Charles Martell whose son, Pepin, took a Jewish woman as one of
his wives. This woman was apparently the mother of Charles the Great
(Charlemagne) who became the first Holy Roman Emperor and founded the
Carolingian dynasty. In Spain the Christians from the north began to
slowly reconquer the country. In places where the Spaniards were under
French Carolingian influence they were pro-Jewish. Elsewhere they were
initially hostile but soon saw the economic value of Jews in helping them
repopulate and stabilize regions that had been reconquered from the
Muslims. Under the Muslims the Jews in Spain were relatively well treated
but there were periodic persecutions. Life with the Arabs was always
volatile and unpredictable. In the 1000s Bachya Ibn Pakuda wrote "Chovot
HaLavovot" ("Duties of the Heart") which is one of the great Classics of
moral and spiritual contemplation. [Another great thinker,] Shmuel haNagid
was vizier and commander
of the army of Granada 1030-1056. Jealous Arabs murdered his son. In 1146
the Almohads (who were Berbers from Morocco) in the south of Spain forced
their Jewish subjects to become Muslims so many fled to the Christian areas
though some remained and were faithful to Judaism in secret.
The Christian Reconquest
By the 1250s CE most of Spain had been reconquered by the Christians. The
Muslims retained control of the Kingdom of Granada in the Southeast. There
was a blood libel in Saragossa in 1250 and a series of persecutions and
anti-Jewish measures. In 1263 there was a Disputation in which the Jews
were not allowed to speak freely and as a result of which the great scholar
Nachmanides left Spain. In 1267 Nachmanides settled in Jerusalem and helped
re-establish Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. Despite many
difficulties Jews often lived well in Christian Spain and in 1294 it was
recorded that 22% of the total revenue of the Kingdom of Castille was
derived from the Jews. In the decade1280-1290 the Zohar was made public.
This period evidenced a flowering of Kabalistic (Spiritual Mysticism based
on the Bible) studies. In 1340 a great halachic work, "The Turim," was
published. Hasdia Iben Crescas (a major Jewish philosopher) in the 1370s
taught in Barcelona in the northeast of Spain. In the 1390s there were
riots and persecutions against the Jews and many became Christians out of
fear or due to coercion. Some of those who became Christian remained Jewish
in secret. Other Jews however adopted Christianity with great fanaticism
and helped persecute their former brethren. In 1413 there was another
Disputation as a result of which the Talmud was censured and Jews
persecuted. In this Disputation, Joseph Albo (who wrote an important work
on the Articles of Faith) defended the Jewish cause. In 1479 the Christian
Kingdoms of Aragon and Castille united when their rulers, Ferdinand and
Isabella, married each other.
In 1492 Granada surrendered to Ferdinand and Isabella, the new Spanish
Monarchs. One of the conditions of surrender was that the status and rights
of the Jews should be respected but this agreement was broken and the Jews
expelled [from Granada]. Not only that, but in 1492 all of the Jews were
Spain. Altogether possibly more than 200,000 Jews were exiled. About
100,000 of the exiled Spanish Jews then went to Portugal from which they
were expelled in 1496-97 after their children had been taken away from
them. The expulsion from Spain was accompanied by great hardship. Those
were expelled lost most of their possessions and many of them were later
robbed, raped, and sold into slavery or murdered in the course of their
enforced wanderings. Great names of Spanish Jewry included some of the
greatest and most original thinkers that have ever existed. Some of them
were veritable geniuses, and truly holy men. They included writers of
religious and philosophical works whose written word is often the best
possible expression of literacy known to the annals of humanity. A very
small sampling of luminaries of Spanish Jewry include names such as Alfasi,
Yehudah HaLevi, Iben Ezra, Maimonides, Solomon Iben Gabirol, Kimchi, Ibn
Tibbon, Iben Gikatilla, Abudarham, Albo, Crescas, Nachmanides.
Jews who did not wish to be expelled could convert to Christianity and
many did. These are known as "Conversos," "Marranos", or "Anusim." There
were about 300,000 (or more) of them. Some of these "converts" attempted
maintain Jewish customs and beliefs. This was an offence against
Catholicism. The Inquisition had been introduced into Spain in 1481. Jewish
converts to Christianity tended to intermarry with remnants of the old
Visigothic nobility. They were hated by the common people and by elements
within the Church. The monarchy used the Inquisition as an additional tool
in its relentless struggle to curb and control the aristocracy. It was
often required to demonstrate a "purity of blood" meaning proof that one
had no Jewish ancestors. Hundreds of thousands of people were questioned
the Inquisition that tortured and burned alive many of them. A great number
of those executed were of Jewish descent. The activities of the
Inquisition had ethnic as well as religious implications. The Conversos
were often pro-English. Amongst the conversos were Christopher Columbus
discovered America as well as the three men who financed the voyage of
Columbus, a good portion of the crew on the ship of Columbus, and the first
known white man in that era to set foot on American soil.
B. Netanyahu (father of Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister of
Israel) is one of the foremost world authorities on the history and study
of the Conversos.
Many Conversos later settled in the New World and it has been claimed that
a good portion of the people of southern USA and Mexico bearing Spanish
names may have Converso blood. There is history of Jews in New Mexico as
far back as the early 1500's (closer to 1540's). These were the Marranos,
Jews who fled Spain, Portugal and Mexico, during the Inquisition that began
in Spain, under Tomas de Torquemada. Conversos also went to France where
they intermarried with the Hugeonots or to Britain and Holland where they
often returned to the Jewish fold.
By the Statute of Limpieza in 1547 purity of ancestry from the "taint" of
converso blood was required as well as freedom from any accusations of
heresy by the Inquisition was made a condition of all future ecclesiastical
appointments. In 1556 Philip II gave his royal approval to the statute on
the grounds that "all the heresies in Germany, France and Spain have been
sown by descendants of Jews." As far as Germany and France were concerned,
this remark was sheer fantasy, and it is especially ironic that, just at
this time, Pope Paul IV, at war with Spain, described Philip II himself
quite correctly as a Marrano, or descendant of Jews [E.Brittanica].
Another possible descendant of Jews was the Spanish dictator, General
Franco. During the Second World War
Spain allowed a large number of Jewish refugees to enter its territory.
one stage the Spanish government
considered deporting the Jews but Winston Churchill warned them not to,
At the end of the war many Nazi war criminals via Spain were enabled to
escape to Latin America and elsewhere.
The traditional national sentiments of Spain were on the whole usually
and pro-German. Spanish history on the whole was marked by cruelty,
superstition, belief in fantasies and disregard for the truth.
On the other hand the Spanish also revealed a potential for bravery,
nobility of character, and artistic flare.
A survey released in November, 2002, revealed that out of all western and
central European nations
the Spanish populace was the most prejudiced against Jews even though the
Jews constituted only
0.03% of the total population.
It should be noted, that Spaniards of Jewish or Israelite descent were
often markedly different from the rest of the population.