The distinction of being the first to assert that Columbus was a Spanish Jew is claimed by Vicente Blasco Ibanez, famous Spanish novelist now in this country.
In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today the Spanish author excitedly pointed out that in his book “Argonauts”, written in 1910 he had made this statement about the origin of the discoverer of America. Statements to this effect, published recently in the American press were accepted as a “discovery” because his book had not been translated into English, Mr. Ibanez thinks.
“There is not a single document which would prove that Columbus ever lived in Genoa” Mr. Ibanez declared. “There is some mystery about the life of the explorer. It seems that Columbus had something to hide in his past when he tried to cover up his origin. His real name was not Columbus, but Colon. There is not a single document which is signed with the name Columbus, but there are some which bear the name of Christobal Colon. It is interesting also that the only ones who favored Columbus’s plans at the Spanish court were two men of Jewish origin, namely Santaggel, who was treasurer to the Duke of Avagon, and Coloma who was Secretary to the Queen of Castilla”.
“I am absolutely convinced”, Mr. Ibanex continued, “that at least fifty percent of the Spanish blood is Semitic. Of course I mean the Sephardic Jew, whom I consider a descendant of the original Jewish race and representing the Jewish aristocracy, while the Ashkenazim are descendants of an element which had become converted to Judaism in Poland and Russia. If one studies Spanish history carefully and is aware of the great influx of Jews and Arabs during the middle ages, and of the intermarriage which has taken place between the different races, one will know that the Spaniard is to a great extent Semitic. All the temperament I have, the passion which is in my blood, the vividness of my imagination I know is of Semitic origin.
“A curious incident happened in the eighteenth century”, Mr. Ibanex continued, “when the King Tore of Portugal issued a decree ordering the Jews to wear yellow hats in order to be easily recognized. The next morning his Premier Marguis de Pombal entered his room, his robe thrown over his shoulder. He approached the King and with a sudden movement opened his robe and displayed two. yellow hats. The King asked him in surprise what he meant in bringing these two hats. Pombal replied, ‘You have given an
order that all Jews wear yellow hats. You and are of Jewish origin and I brought these two hats so that we too might obey your decree'”.
Mr. Ibanez told of the movement in Spain aiming at the return of the Jews in Spain. The movement is headed by Senator Angel Pulido. Of course the purpose of this movement is not to affect a mass immigration of Jews. There would be no room for them in Spain today, which has a severe immigration problem to solve, the author declared. But we want a number of Jews to make Spain their home again.
Mr. Ibanez recalled his friendship with the late Zionist leader, Dr. Max Nordau, whom he met in Paris a quarter of a century ago when Ibanez fled from Spain because of his Republican views. This friendship was renewed years later when Nordau came to Spain, a fugitive from France, whose language he not only spoke but wrote fluently.
Spain is today the only country in Europe where there is no Jewish question, Mr. Ibanex declared. Mr. Bauer, the representative of the Rothschilds, is the most influential man in Spain and mixes freely with the highest personages. The number of Jews in Spain is not great, and the Jew who lives in Spain today is not considered a Jew but a progressive Spaniard.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.