Porto, Israel, Diaspora, Reciprocity

In 2022, when the Oporto rabbi was indicted for fake crimes based on anonymous denunciations, the embassy that protected and showed concern about him on a weekly basis was the embassy of Argentina, the country where he was born before migrating to his holy homeland.

Israel has to review its relationship with the diaspora. To abandon the Jews when they are in most need, is certainly an outrage for our four millennium history and a betrayal of Theodor Herzl. There are no excuses that can be accepted. Maintaining connection with the Diaspora must be a strategic, national goal.

I lived in Porto for seven years. One day I will return. But not for now. I have no will to do so. From a Polish family that narrowly escaped European extermination, I refuse to live in a country whose elites believe in Jewish billionaires carry bags of money. If I had not lived this experience, I would not believe it.

In the past, men knew that kings lived in castles, but today nobody knows where the billionaires live. They could be in America, Israel, Switzerland or on a boat near Gibraltar. However, in Portugal, they are believed to walk around synagogues handing over dollars to rabbis.

When the police were at the synagogue, officials wasted a great deal of time trying to find a non-existent file on a French billionaire whose four grandparents were Moroccan. I was there. I was talking with the police. How could the French businessman be suspicious? From what?

When in 2016 I visited for the first time the practically unknown Jewish community in Oporto, there was no antisemitism. The community was small, but it had everything a Jew could want: synagogue, hotel, restaurant, market, mikveh, good atmosphere, many languages, many nationalities among its members. I moved there and the small Jewish organization continued to grow. The result was not positive. The community began to be violently attacked by the political and media mainstream. The attacks targeted all religious and secular leaders of the community and did not even spare the central synagogue doorman. I was there. 

Herzl warned that there is no antisemitism where there are no Jews. As soon as they start to arrive in considerable numbers, the antisemitic plague soon follows. What happened in Portugal was an attack based on the popular perception of the dangerous Jew, ie the rich and the rabbi.

For years I and my mother were truly involved with the WIZO activities in Brazil. This international, non-partisan movement is dedicated to the welfare of all sectors of Israeli society. It empowers women in Israel, welcomes them and gives voice to women in Israeli society. We were working every day and ask nothing in return from Israel. 

There are things that simply should not happen, in any country. In Portugal, a good part of the role that should have been assigned to the Israeli embassy was indeed performed by the Argentine Embassy. I can not accept that. It is my duty to write about that.