Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Barcelona Chaos Had This Israeli Lawmaker Dodging Rubber Bullets

Image by Getty Images

(JTA) — Seeing armed police in riot gear outside a school in Barcelona, the Israeli lawmaker Ksenia Svetlova felt the instincts kick in from her days as a Middle East reporter for Russian-language media.

“One look was enough to see these officers were preparing for something bad,” said Svetlova, a Zionist Union lawmaker who was in the Catalan capital Sunday at the invitation of the local government as part of a team of international observers monitoring voting in a controversial referendum on independence.

Svetlova, who immigrated to Israel from her native Moscow in 1991 when she was 14, was on her way to the relative safety of a dark doorway when police shot rubber bullets into the crowd of people who had gathered to vote at the school on Sunday afternoon.

“What I saw was shocking,” she recalled in an interview Monday with JTA about one of the many confrontations that occurred Sunday across Catalonia between voters and police.

Ksenia Svetlova

But by “beating old women at polling stations, it seems to me the Spanish government not only risked eroding democratic principles, but quite simply shot itself in the foot,” Svetlova said. From talks with Catalan leaders and ordinary people, “I learned that the violence only hardened the resolve of those seeking independence and helped them make the case to those who are still undecided.”


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.