update deskAntisemitism

Porto Jews accuse incoming EU Council president of history of antisemitism

In a new book, the community details efforts by António Costa's government to revoke the country's Sephardic citizenship law.

Then-prime minister of Portugal António Costa in Lisbon in 2019. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Sportsfile.
Then-prime minister of Portugal António Costa in Lisbon in 2019. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Sportsfile.

Portugal’s Porto Jewish community is warning that incoming European Council president António Costa has a history of antisemitism and could threaten Jewish life on the continent.

Costa resigned as prime minister of Portugal in November of last year amid a corruption investigation into members of his government. From Lisbon, he will be heading to Brussels this December to replace Charles Michel as president of the institution which sets the political priorities and policy directions of the European Union.

According to a new book released for free on Amazon by the Jewish community of Porto, Costa’s socialist government persecuted the Jewish community in the northwest coastal city, leading to the repeal of a 2015 law that allowed Jews of Sephardic origin to acquire Portuguese nationality.

Jews first came to Porto in Roman times, around 2,000 years ago. They prospered for 1,500 years until they were expelled in 1496 by the Portuguese Inquisition. According to the Nationality Law for Portuguese Sephardic Jews, or “Sephardic Law,” their descendants could be eligible for citizenship.

According to the report, titled “The Plan! Jewish Life Threatened in Europe,” Augusto Santos Silva, foreign minister in the Costa government, worked to repeal the law in the name of the “Palestinian cause.” The book details other members of the Costa government engaging in an antisemitic campaign against the Sephardic law and the Porto Jewish community.

“We think it is important to make the story of those who are about to take on a significant role in the European Union known to the general public,” said the president of the Jewish community of Porto Gabriel Senderowicz.

“The European Union has a plan to help promote Jewish life over the coming years. However, this could be threatened by the appointment of a man who has a history of animosity towards Jews, the law, and the Jewish community and tried to shrink and attack it in his home country during his tenure as prime minister.”

Senderowicz added: “It is vital that Europeans learn the true identity and ideology of Costa and the Jewish world understands the dangers to the continent’s Jewish communities.”

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