(JTA) — The mayor of a Madrid suburb apologized through a spokesman for using the term “Jewish dog” during her campaign.
The office of Collado Villalba Mayor Mariola Vargas issued the apology on Friday to the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, or FCJE, in connection with Vargas’ remark during a news conference in which she denied allegations that she has foreign bank accounts and urged listeners to believe her because “I’m no Jewish dog.”
“Mariola Vargas apologizes for her remarks on Nov. 12,” a municipal spokesman wrote in an email to FCJE, which had complained to the mayor — a member of Spain’s ruling Popular Party – over the pejorative.
Maria Royo, a spokeswoman for FCJE, said the apology was appropriate but added that the slur “once again reveals the deep roots that Judeophobia has in our country,” she told JTA, adding that such slurs are offensive to Jews even if they are not intended to insult them. “In other countries, people who make such statements are not permitted to occupy a public office.”
Anti-Semitic pejoratives are a divisive issue in Spain, where many use the phrase “kill a Jew” to describe the consumption of alcohol, and where official dictionaries contain the term “Judiada,” which literally means Jewry but whose definition is “Bad action that is considered, with bias, to belong to Jews.”
David Hatchwell, president of the Jewish Community of Madrid, told JTA on Monday, “There is anti-Semitism in Spain, feeding on a lot of ignorance about Jews. But there is also a Jewish revival and a government policy to honor Spain’s Jewish heritage. And unlike in Paris, where wearing kipah is an invitation to harassment, you can expect no such problems in Madrid.”