Geneva (May. 20)
The Spanish Government will have to deal very shortly with the question of naturalisation of Spanish Jews in other countries who desire to become Spanish citizens, and will have to lay down general lines for dealing with this entire matter, the Spanish Foreign Minister, Senor Lerroux, who is now in Geneva attending the meeting of the League of Nations Council, said in an interview which he gave to the J.T.A. representative here.
The Minister began by expressing his pleasure at having an opportunity to state his views to a representative of the Jewish press, and to explain through him the attitude of the new Republican Government on the Jewish question. There is in Spain, he said, a feeling of sympathy towards all Spanish-speaking people, and above all towards the Spanish Jews who have for centuries retained the Spanish language, although they have been living far away from Spain. The Spanish Jews remind the Spanish people, the Minister went on, of the great injustice which was committed against this industrious people, who had lived for centuries in Spain, had won fame in Spanish history, and had contributed greatly to the Spanish civilisation of the Middle Ages.
The Spanish Government, he declared, has already had an opportunity of considering the question of naturalisation of those Spanish Jews who live in large numbers in various parts of Morocco. He thought that there could be no obstacle to the granting of Spanish nationality to these Jews. The edict of Expulsion issued by the Catholic monarchs of Spain in 1492 was no longer valid in the opinion of the present Spanish Government.
When the J.T.A. representative asked whether the Spanish Government intended to proclaim formally the annulment of the edict, pointing out that this would have a great moral value, and would be hailed with satisfaction by Jews throughout the world, Senor Lerroux replied that his Government has not yet considered this question. For myself, as the leader of the Republican Radical Party, he said, I am of the opinion, however, that Spain must deal with this question radically and proclaim to the entire world that the edict of 1492 has been annulled. It would mean giving formal recognition to the great principle of equal rights for all citizens.
In reply to another question relating to the possibilities of immigration into Spain, and the economic situation of the country, at present, Senor Lerroux said that there would certainly be no legal restrictions against immigration. It depended solely and entirely on the extent to which the immigrants would be able to find openings for themselves in the economic structure of the country.
Senor Lerroux added that he is very much interested in Zionism, and watches with close sympathy the progress of the Jewish work in Palestine. The Palestine problem is in the bands of Great Britain and of the League of Nations, he said, and it is therefore politically a delicate subject, but he felt at the same time that he wanted to express his complete sympathy with the Jewish effort to revive the ancient Jewish Home in Palestine, and to provide a home for the scattered Jewish people throughout the world. He extended his sympathy, he said, to all people who were oppressed, and the Jewish people were oppressed more than all others.