update deskBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

Barcelona’s mayor sued over Israel boycott

The Lawfare Project lawsuit asserts that Ada Colau “acted beyond the scope of her authority by infringing on the Spanish government’s power to conduct foreign policy and violated applicable legal procedures.”

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Barcelona’s mayor is being sued over her decision in February to sever the Spanish city’s official relations with Israel, including its twinning agreement with Tel Aviv.

The Lawfare Project announced on Tuesday the filing of the lawsuit against the Catalan capital’s leftist mayor, Ada Colau, on behalf of the local charity Barcelona Institute for Dialogue with Israel.

“It asserts that Ms. Colau acted beyond the scope of her authority by infringing on the Spanish government’s power to conduct foreign policy and violated applicable legal procedures,” the U.S.-based legal fund, that protects Jewish and Israeli civil and human rights, said in a statement.

Colau cited “repeated violations of human rights of the Palestinian population and non-compliance with United Nations resolutions” in justifying the decision to boycott the Jewish state, which ended a 24-year formal friendship between Barcelona and Tel Aviv.

Barcelona, Spain. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This decision drew immediate condemnation from the Israeli government, pro-Israel groups and local Jewish organizations, with Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, saying that the suspension “represents a total misuse of the legal process to engage in a bigoted and partisan campaign, rather than a legal decision within the scope of the Mayor of Barcelona’s power.”

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, blamed Colau’s decision for antisemitic and anti-Israel graffiti scrawled on the city’s largest synagogue on Monday, the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“The irresponsible decision of the mayor of Barcelona to unilaterally sever relations with the State of Israel has put the Jewish community in the city in real danger,” said Goldschmidt.

“Every additional case of vandalism and bloodshed as a result of this unfortunate choice will be on her hands,” the rabbi added.

The vandals spray-painted “Free Palestine from the river to the sea” on the exterior wall of the Maimonides Synagogue, which also drew condemnation from the local Jewish community.

Antisemitic and anti-Israel graffiti spray-painted on the side of the Maimonides Synagogue in Barcelona, Spain, April 17, 2023. Source: Twitter

“Three people have painted a slogan that Arab radicalism has traditionally used to demand that the Jewish people living in Israel be thrown into the sea,” the statement said.

The day after the Barcelona mayor’s decision, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, the mayor of Madrid, offered his city as a replacement for Tel Aviv in the “twinning” agreement. The mayor of the capital called his Barcelona counterpart antisemitic and offered Tel Aviv’s Mayor Ron Huldai “Madrid’s commitment to democracy and freedom,” ABC reported.

“It would be an honor to be twinned with Tel Aviv,” the mayor said.

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