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Minister in Spanish Government First Jew Since Inquisition

July 12, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The first Jew to serve in the Spanish government since the Jews were expelled from Spain nearly 500 years ago will take the oath of office here Tuesday.

Enrique Mugica Herzog, a 56-year-old Socialist activist from San Sebastian, in the Basque region, will be sworn in as minister of justice. His appointment was part of a reshuffling of Cabinet posts by the ruling Socialist Party.

Mugica Herzog, whose mother is Jewish, is vice president of the Spanish-Israeli Friendship Association. He has been described by the press here as one of the political figures mainly responsible for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel two years ago.

A Communist leader said here Sunday that his appointment to the Cabinet will strengthen Spain’s ties with Israel and constitute a blow to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Although himself formerly a Communist, Mugica Herzog is regarded as one of the leading ideologists of the Spanish Socialist Party and a close associate of its leader, Premier Felipe Gonzales.

He has been quoted as telling friends he has three loves: Spain, his native Basque region and Israel.

As justice minister, Mugica Herzog will be involved in matters concerning church and state relationships. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest and most powerful denomination in Spain.

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