Spanish politician resigns after calling adversary ‘Jewish Nazi’

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A Spanish Socialist politician who called an adversary a “Jewish Nazi” has resigned from her party following an uproar.

Amparo Rubiales on Thursday announced that she would step down as the chair of the Andalusia branch of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party to “resolve the polemic,” as she explained in a statement, over her remarks about Elias Bendodo Benasayag, a prominent member of the center-right Popular Party, who was born to a Sephardi Jewish family in Malaga. His parents are Moroccan-born Jews, according to his online biography.

Rubiales, a former activist for Spain’s main communist party and later a congresswoman for the Socialist party until 2004, has resisted calls to delete her tweet from Saturday, in which she commented on an interview in which Bendodo said that “Spain is not strong enough to withstand another five years under Pedro Sánchez,” the Spanish prime minister, who is a Socialist.

“This is really the discourse of a Nazi Jew,” she wrote. Following criticism, she later wrote another tweet, saying: “I have nothing against Jews and everything against Nazis.”

On Thursday, before announcing her resignation, Rubiales apologized for her tweet.

“Never use someone’s religion, origin, or ethnicity for political criticism even if, as in my case, the intention is to point out a serious inconsistency. My apologies and a correction: Bendodo is a Nazi.”

Elías Bendodo poses for a picture at his office in Madrid, Spain on February 5, 2019. (Junta de Andalucía)

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain (FCJE), an umbrella organization that represents Spanish Jews, issued a statement Thursday “strongly” condemning Rubiales’s comment and describing it as antisemitic.

“This is antisemitism as Bendodo’s Jewish origin is pointed out when no other politician is identified with his origin or religion,” the FCJE said in a statement cited by The Diplomat. “Beyond political differences, it is intolerable and despicable to use the origin, tendencies, belonging or religion of an adversary to make a political criticism.”

Spain will have a general election next month. The Popular Party is leading over the Socialists by a considerable margin in nearly all major opinion polls.

The Andalusia branch of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party condemned Rubiales’ remarks, calling them “unacceptable” and “objectionable.”

They represent her opinion and not that of the party, a spokesperson for the branch told El Mundo.

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