A spokesperson for the mayor of a suburb of Madrid apologized for the mayor’s use of the term “Jewish dog” during her mayoral campaign as representative of the country’s ruling party.
The office of Mariola Vargas, mayor of Collado Villalba, issued on Friday the apology 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,” as she put it.
“Mariola Vargas apologizes for her remarks on Nov. 12,” a municipal spokesperson wrote in an email to FCJE, which complained to the mayor — a member of Spain’s Popular Party – over the pejorative.
Maria Royo, a spokesperson 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,” Royo added.
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 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 kippah is an invitation to harassment, you can expect no such problems in Madrid.”