Spain and the Sephardic Jews: Decree Approved by Republican Government Giving Facilities to Sephardi

The Cabinet at its meeting held this afternoon has approved on general lines a decree under which the Sephardim residing in the towns under the sovereignty and within the zone of our Protectorate in Morocco, will obtain great facilities for acquiring the Spanish nationality which so many of them desire, the Minister of Finance in the new Spanish Republican Government, Senor Indalecio Prieto, says in a telegram which has just been received here by Senor Don Carlos Echeguren, the Secretary of the Municipality here, following his recent mission to Madrid, during which he raised with the Government among other matters on behalf of the Melillah Republican Socialist Committee the advisability of granting facilities to the Jewish population of Spanish origin to become Spanish citizens.

The petition which he submitted, in reply to which he has now received the Minister’s telegram, reads as follows:

“The advent of the Republic has created a profound impression of joy and hope, not only among the Hebrew element residing in the towns of sovereignty within Spanish Morocco, but also among the Sephardim living in French Morocco, Algeria and the Balkans. The Sephardim of Ceuta and Melilla have assisted spiritually and materially in the organisation of our Democratic Parties, in the hope that the triumph of the Spanish Republicans will bring about their reincorporation in the land of their origin and the granting of full public liberty for the exercise of their faith.

“The Sephardim have been termed Spaniards without a country. Many of the Jews who live to-day in Ceuta and Melilla are naturalised Spanish subjects, but there are many more who are anxious to acquire Spanish nationality, and refrain only because of the inconveniences and the long delay bound up with the usual mode of application and the many difficulties in the way. It is a necessary, urgent and patriotic duty to grant the maximum of facilities in this regard.

“The Jewish element in Morroco is extremely important to Spain. For one thing, there is the sentimental side they speak our language and are full of yearning for our country. At the same time, there are their connections with the natives, and their financial importance. The African Jew is, like our compatriot of the North, a wanderer. He seeks openings for his enterprise in the Spanish American countries, and when he has met there with success he returns to North Africa.

“The houses in the finest streets of Oran belong to these Jews. The day when Spain permits them to exercise their religion; when it allows them to build their synagogues in Ceuta and Melilla; when it gives them facilities to become citizens,

will see great numbers of these Jews coming to our cities. We often hear them say that France, official France, gives them such consideration as the Spanish Government has so far denied them, but they admit that as individuals the Spaniard is more tolerant and more fraternal to them than the French citizen.

“The Spanish Republic will be doing a good thing for the country in attracting this race of people who are our kin”.

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