WASHINGTON (Jun. 6)
King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sophia of Spain met with 11 prominent Jewish leaders during their four-day American visit. The half-hour meeting took place Thursday at Blair House where the royal couple was staying as the guest of President and Mrs. Ford.
Arthur Goldberg, the former U.S. Supreme Court Justice and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations who led the delegation, told newsmen later that the group was “most cordially received” and that the king and queen were “very gracious and dignified” while paying close attention to the statements by the delegation. Each of the 11, Goldberg said, spoke of his “great appreciation” to the royal visitors for the “acts of friendship” they have demonstrated to the Jewish community in Spain.”
Juan met with a delegation of World Sephardi Jews shortly after assuming the throne. Queen Sophia visited a synagogue in Madrid during Friday night services, becoming the first member of Spanish royalty to do so since the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. Goldberg said that Thursday’s meeting was “a most historic event in itself and means a great deal.”
Goldberg said the delegation also “expressed the hope that relations would be normalized between Spain and Israel.” Israel and Spain do not have diplomatic relations but do engage in trade and tourism between the two countries. There are an estimated 9,400 Jews in Spain.