Pedro Sanchez, Europe’s most Israelophobic leader

In light of the visit of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, to Israel, we at ACOM provide information and context about Sánchez’s stance, his government’s, and the position the parties supporting him in relation to Israel, Spanish Jews, and, in particular, the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. The conclusion is straightforward. Sánchez not only lacks any credibility as a mediator, but he also lacks the credibility for Spain to be considered a legitimate and reliable party to sit at the table of international community countries with responsible behavior.

Despite Spain holding the rotating presidency of the European Union, Pedro Sánchez was the only leader of a major EU-27 country who did not visit Israel or call Netanyahu in the days following 7-O. The Spanish prime minister did rush to visit Egypt with several of his European counterparts and meet with the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

Sánchez has persistently called on Israel for a humanitarian ceasefire in its campaign to end Hamas and has taken the liberty of criticising as “disproportionate” and potentially contrary to international humanitarian law the operation against the terrorist regime that controlled the strip until now.

Jewish publications such as the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) have taken note of this attitude in articles such as this one, entitled Spain and Turkey are leading the diplomatic war against Israel.

A central part of this ‘diplomatic war’ denounced by the JNS should have been the peace summit between Israel and the Palestinians that Sánchez proposed as rotating president of the European Council in October. Had this initiative, for which the socialist politician sought international support, succeeded, Israel would have been forced to halt its operations against Hamas in the strip and reward the Palestinians for the biggest terrorist attack in their history with progress towards statehood.

The attitude of the head of the PSOE and the head of the Spanish government has been particularly inadequate in its response to the news of the deaths of two Spanish citizens at the hands of terrorists: the Spanish-Israeli soldier Maya Villalobo, who was buried in Seville without the attendance of any senior government representative, and the Spaniard Iván Illarramendi, to whom Sánchez and his party’s ministers have also failed to pay any public tribute.

The leader of Spain’s socialists has just been re-elected as prime minister by a parliamentary coalition made up of several markedly Israelophobic parties. Sánchez has not only made ministers out of politicians such as Sira Rego, who reacted to the 7-O pogroms with a defence of the Palestinian right to resist (see further information below).

The war in Gaza featured prominently in his recent inauguration speech. Sánchez condemned the Hamas pogrom and called for the release of the Israeli hostages, and then put the terrorist massacre and the response of the Hebrew state on an equal footing with the lie that Israel targets Palestinian civilians not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank: “But with equal clarity, we reject the indiscriminate killing in Gaza and the West Bank”.

Prominent in the same inaugural speech was his promise to recognise the Palestinian state, a demand of his radical government partners who never recognise Israel’s right to exist, which Sánchez described as “the first commitment of the legislature”.

His first trip of the legislature will be precisely to Israel and the Palestinian territories, where he is likely to insist on this chimera, more discredited than ever after the death of 1,200 people at the hands of one of the movements that have so far governed the destinies of the Palestinians and the favourable reaction to the killings of a large part of Palestinian society.

Sánchez has always remained oblivious to international media scrutiny of his anti-Israel positions. While the international media have echoed ACOM’s court victories that led to the banning of a gigantic boycott Israel campaign backed by Sánchez’s party, the focus has always been on his radical allies, and less on his dedicated cooperation in getting the campaign off the ground.

The atmosphere created by the systematic hostility towards Israel by the PSOE, its leader and its partners has made Spain an increasingly unsafe place for Israelis and Jews.

An Israeli-owned hotel in Barcelona was recently attacked by a mob of a hundred people demonstrating in favour of Palestine.

The Israeli embassy recently denounced that underage Jewish students are being harassed in their schools with the excuse of the death of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Such harassment has occurred all over the country, in different stages of education (from nursery school to university), and in some, such as that of an Israeli student in Ibiza, legal action has been taken.

Granada’s Israeli footballer Shon Weissman has been forced not to travel with his team for a league match because of the risk of being attacked because of his nationality.

And a particularly serious development: the synagogue in the Spanish city of Ceuta has had to suspend a Shabbat service for fear of being assaulted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who has been following Spanish politics for some time. Together with its ultra-left partners, Sánchez’s PSOE has promoted or supported the BDS-promoted boycott of Israel in dozens of Spanish municipalities and regional institutions.

Beyond individual positions, which undoubtedly already point to a pattern of hostility, the PSOE’s enthusiastic contribution to the institutionalisation of anti-Semitism in Spain is undeniable. Since Pedro Sánchez became Secretary General of the Socialist Party, his party has systematically supported BDS motions proposed by parties on the far left. These institutions declared themselves “Spaces Free of Israeli Apartheid”, approving not to contract any Israeli company, product, entity or organisation or that had any relation with the Jewish people. And in this journey, Sánchez’s PSOE has always been an active driving force. Only thanks to the legal initiative of civil society, and only thanks to the separation of powers, with an independent judiciary, has it been possible to reverse this situation, which formally expelled not only Israelis from civilian life, but also, insofar as the exclusion covers anyone sympathetic to Israel, local Jewish communities. 

But the support of the PSOE, and particularly of Pedro Sánchez, has not stopped at the already serious establishment of exclusionary legal frameworks against Jews, but rather the network of financing with Spanish public money that ends up in the hands of terrorist organisations, or those linked to terrorism, takes on an extreme gravity. In the first instance, as demonstrated by Sánchez’s blocking of the suspension of EU funds destined for Gaza (the traceability of which is null and void), there is a personal determination not to effectively combat one of the main drivers of Hamas terrorism.

Domestically, departures have continued to grow under his rule, also ending up unchecked with unreliable actors, both Palestinian and domestic.

With regard to the latter case, in recent years there has been an important awareness of this issue in Spanish society. The most obvious example of this was the legislative reform project to prosecute subsidies granted to anti-Semitic organisations, a project promoted by the Assembly of the Community of Madrid. This reform, promoted by the PP and supported by VOX, was backed by the PSOE in an erratic and ambiguous position. The uniqueness of the proposal, which made it unique worldwide, is that it pursued anti-Semitism in all its manifestations, following the parameters set by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (of which Spain is a member). Finally, the text was approved by an absolute majority in the Madrid Assembly, and travelled to the Congress of Deputies. Despite the support of the PSOE (and the opposition of its government partners), the same socialist party let the legislative process die, showing a more than obvious lack of interest in effectively combating anti-Semitism in whatever guise it is presented.

The anti-Semitic far left, Sanchez’s partners in government

While Pedro Sánchez was once deeply concerned that Podemos, the most anti-Semitic extreme left-wing party in Europe, has been Europe’s most anti-Semitic far-left partywas funded by Iran, he has evidently changed his mind on the matter, actively relying on the radical left formation to form successive governments.

The militant activism against Israel and the Jews of Podemos (and all its franchises: Más País, Sumar, Izquierda Unida,… all of them always present in the executives of Pedro Sánchez), besides being marked by its ideological component, appears the enormous economic boost that the Islamic Republic of Iran offered to the political party since its genesis.

For years, Pablo Iglesias, the former leader of the formation, and invested Vice-President of the Government by Pedro Sánchez, worked for the propaganda organ of the Ayatollahs’ regime in Spain, Hispan TV. On this channel dedicated to softening the image of this criminal dictatorship abroad, he presented his television programmes Fort Apache and Spoilers.

The first was a space for political commentary in which the leader of Podemos and his guests conveyed his views on international politics, which are basically the same as those of the regime that paid him and served as his loudspeaker: implacable criticism of Western democracies, especially the United States and Israel; enthusiasm for 21st century socialism in Latin America; and demonisation of capitalism.

Iglesias’ second programme on Hispan TV, Spoilers, a programme on film and politics dedicated to promoting conspiracy theories against the United States, much to the liking of his Iranian patrons, in which the leader of Podemos also placed the hitherto Spanish Minister of Equality, Irene Montero.

But the relations between Podemos and the ayatollahs’ regime could go beyond these journalistic collaborations. In the past, the police have investigated the possible financing of Podemos by Iran with 5 million euros that the theocratic regime allegedly channelled through payments made by Hispan TV to its party collaborators.

Sánchez’s support on the far left has never been circumstantial, or solely based on parliamentary arithmetic, but rather a firm and sustained commitment. This is the only way to explain why Sánchez has even given Iglesias access to control confidential information in the CNI, or why he has included figures such as Enrique Santiago, known for his links with the PFLP, the FARC, and for his trivialising stances on the Holocaust, in such important posts as the Post-Covid Reconstruction Commission. Sánchez, since he became president of the government, has actively promoted such profiles. Two examples in the form of ministers: on the one hand, the outgoing Ione Belarra, and on the other, a replacement, even more radical if possible.

The secretary general of Podemos and former minister for Social Rights, Ione Belarra, has been the international driving force behind the demand that the International Criminal Court order the arrest of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. He did not receive any public reproach for this from Sánchez, who even fuelled the controversy, questioning whether Israel is complying with international law. But neither did Sánchez reproach Belarra when, while the corpses were still warm after the Hamas massacre, the then minister issued a repulsive tweet avoiding condemning Hamas. Belarra is also known, despite the evidence against her, for uncritically disseminating Hamas propaganda. Belarra also actively disseminated anti-Semitic calls promoted by Samidoun, an organisation banned in Germany for its links to jihadism.

Spain’s new Minister of Youth, Sira Rego, of Palestinian origin, has a history of permanent hatred of Israel: public performances burning Israeli flags, participating with the terrorist Layla Khaled in public events (just like the shameful campaign that the former mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, carried out with Khaled, one of many examples of institutional anti-Semitism from Catalonia) … But her public and political positions on the Hamas massacre of 7 October are particularly deplorable. On the one hand, like Belarra, refusing to condemn the attacks and Hamas and, even more seriously, being one of the 21 MEPs (out of 705) who refused to condemn Hamas in the European Parliament. Days after that vote, in the same European Parliament he called for an end to the EU’s relations with Israel and an increase in financial allocations to Palestine.

His colleague and new Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, who has also been characterised by his abiding hatred of Israel, voted exactly the same way.

Sánchez’s new executive, in addition to the aforementioned Rego and Urtasun, includes other members of Sumar. All of them, without exception, have furious anti-Israeli profiles, starting with their leader and vice-president of the government, Yolanda Díaz. It is worth noting their early support for boycott campaigns, to their public positions on the same day that Israel suffered the biggest pogrom since the Holocaust, directly attacking Israel days later, or posing with members of the PFLP.

The new Minister of Health, Mónica García, also from Podemos, although now part of the apparently more “moderate” left-wing Más País. Nothing could be further from the truth: as a candidate for the Presidency of the Community of Madrid, García and her group were exposed for their public statements [i]clearly anti-Semitic.

Ultimately, Pablo Bustinduy, Minister of Social Rights: one of the founders of Podemos, a classic anti-Israel activist: from enthusiastic support for the bds, to being yet another transmission belt for Hamas messages.