The Jewish Community of Oporto asks the European Union to investigate a case of Soviet-style antisemitism in Portugal

The Jewish Community of Oporto asks the European Union to investigate a case of Soviet-style antisemitism in Portugal

The Jewish Community of Oporto (CIP/CJP) has called on the European Union to instigate an impartial international investigation into "a large-scale anti-Semitic action that took place in Portugal using criminals who intended to defame the country's strongest community, destroy Jewish leadership, halt the influx of Israeli citizens, and end the law that granted Portuguese citizenship to Jews of Portuguese origin." These words are from the President of the Community, Gabriel Senderowicz.

"The reasons for the request relate to the need to investigate who ordered the March 2022 police action against the Community and who were the “robbers, murderers, and convicts” who tried to incriminate Jews from Oporto. There is also a need to safeguard the honour of the Portuguese nation distinct figures, who will certainly be the first to be interested in an independent investigation", he adds.

In September 2022, the High Court said that criminal indictments against the Jewish Community of Oporto were "based on nothing," something the Oporto police had already stated in 2021. However, Senderowicz explains that "Police from Lisbon raided the synagogue and the Jewish museum and arrested the rabbi on the basis of anonymous denunciations that attributed to him acts of corruption by two people he does not know (one certified by the Jewish community of Lisbon, the other by the community of origin) and accusing him of corrupting registry offices he never visited. At the same time, “suitcases of money” were searched for at the home of the Vice President (the granddaughter of the ‘Portuguese Dreyfus’), a construction company of a community collaborator was suspected of issuing certifications of Sephardi origin and an official statement from the authorities spread the news that the community was also indicted for drug trafficking."

A community council member for legal affairs, David Garrett, says the European Union investigation is necessary. "If the anonymous, slanderous complaints were not made by convicts at the request of state agents, if the attempt to eliminate the first signer of a petition to the parliament was authored by someone who chose his target at random, if there is no relationship between the professional burglars who stole the server from a community lawyer (in Oporto) and the computers of the president of SIRESP (in Lisbon), so everything was nothing more than a miraculous coincidence and the community should not remain alarmed. If, on the contrary, the investigation concludes that state agents used criminals and all the press against a religious and cultural organization (the Jewish Community of Oporto), then we can say that they wanted mostly to destroy a nascent elite linked to the flowering of Jewish life, and that the aim was not merely to initiate proceedings against suspects for the practice of illegalities. Against these, legal means of obtaining evidence would be used, the police would not be used as an instrument, much less whether they would use burglars, murderers, and manufacturers of anonymous complaints.”

Deborah Elijah, a member of the Oporto community board and president of Keren Hayesod Portugal, explains that the basis for Soviet-style antisemitism was "primarily the use of criminals and the press to defame the most important Jewish communities, to associate them with immoral businesses and then to try the rabbis for fictitious corruption. Weak communities linked to existing powers were used to serve as propaganda, like a musical instrument, as my father was forced to play the violin in the Theresienstadt concentration camp."

Elijah explains what happened in Portugal. "In their eagerness to destroy the strong community of Oporto and to spare that of Lisbon, the anti-Semites invented dangerous links between the law offices, Parliament, business, citizenship certifications, and Russian Jews. Significantly, the dangerous links were not attributed to the Jewish Community of Lisbon (CIL), where a leader of the community collaborated with parliament in the final drafting of the Sephardic law of Return, signed certificates of Sephardi origin, was the owner of a law firm that handled a large number of cases of nationality processed in Portugal and had direct relations with the registry offices either as a lawyer, as board member of CIL, an inactive organization with little Jewish life, that had certified many Russian Jews and obtained more revenue in 2022 than the Jewish Community of Oporto had in seven years of work. The dangerous links were attributed to the Jewish community it was intended to destroy (the Oporto community), which had asked the government for an international commission for certification, which had no special relations with registry offices, which had no nationality lawyers among its members, which had granted certificates to few Russian Jews (always supported by certificates of origin issued by entities recognized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel) and which over the years had created new synagogues, museums, films, kosher restaurants and a network of social supports."

Vivian Groisman, who is responsible for the Sephardi archive of the Jewish Community of Oporto, who in March saw a large number of police officers eager to apprehend everything, said that she witnessed "a scene that broke my desire to live in Portugal. An international investigation must be carried out for the security of our Community. For the sake of transparency it is also in the interests of unsullied people such as the former Minister of Justice (who produced a regulation that killed the Sephardi Law of Return in practical terms, who collected anonymous complaints and had them investigated by entities whose leaders she appointed, and that fired the director of SIRESP, from whose home the computers were stolen three days later) and the former Foreign Minister (who, for a "Palestine-cause", headed the destruction of the Sephardic Law of Return, reduced the positive effects of the law on some visits by tourists, and who premonitorily said in parliament in 2020 that if the House did not act, public opinion would act)."

Groisman adds "A year after the invasion of the Jewish Museum that I witnessed with astonishment, the only bags of money that appeared were in the European Parliament for the benefit of Arab and Muslim countries and presumably funding national political parties to the detriment of Jewish and Israeli communities."