I imagine that for the readers of this article the answer will ultimately be negative. It’s partly true. So far there has been no organized anti-Semitic trend that has been publicly expressed. In Portugal, unlike in other European countries, public expression against Jews is not very widespread. And what is not seen is as if it did not exist.
But there is, and these days we have just seen a very clear example of the dramatic pandemic situation we live in, one of the many conspiracy theories: If we don’t have vaccines, it’s the Jews’ fault!
I am referring to the words of a former and famous Captain of April, Rodrigo Sousa Castro, who was awarded the Order of Freedom and later promoted to Colonel. On February 6th he wrote in Twiter: “The Jews who dominate world finance bought and have the vaccines they wanted. It’s kind of historical revenge. And I won’t say any more before Zionist bulldogs jump. “
And since not only the “Zionist bulldogs” jumped, but also countless other living beings “jumped”, the brave colonel insisted and wrote: “One post in which I speak about Zionism and its crimes in Palestine was the flight from mine Page worth here in the Tt of the National Socialist-Zionist Legion. The site has become more hygienic. “
A post in which I talk about Zionism and its crimes in Palestine was worth the escape from my side here in the Legion of National Socialist Zionist supporters. Page was refurbished.
– rodrigo sousa castro (@ 1963Cor), February 6, 2021
A day later, the colonel declares himself “devastated” and admits that he was wrong about speaking about Jews in general and apologizes. But like deeds, words are not erased because they translate thoughts and inevitably have their consequences, especially when said by a man flaunting the Order of Liberty. When I talk about consequences, I don’t mean any punishment. I mean discrediting a man whose past should hold him responsible for the present.
April 25th brought us freedom, democracy and equality. The Constitution confirms this, and the Freedom of Religion Act, passed in 2001, clearly recognizes the equality of all religious denominations before the law. Generalizations that question a minority as a whole are not allowed. In a free country, regardless of their ethnic, religious, sexual or other origin, people are individually responsible for their decisions, actions and behavior.
But we know that the law is one thing, reality another, and no country is immune to anti-Semitism: it is the desecration of 17 graves in the Israeli cemetery in Lisbon with Nazi inscriptions in most of them on the night of 25th century September 2007. This law sparked a strong wave of outrage from civil society and the authorities. In Parliament itself, acts of vandalism were the subject of unanimous condemnation.
For half a century after the war, the memory of the Holocaust limited or drowned out the public expression of anti-Semitism in Europe. That time is over
Despite the fact that its authors, linked to neo-Nazi movements and caught in the act, have been tried in court, this law reminds us that freedom, and especially freedom of religion, is an ongoing challenge. A challenge to maintain and develop it, a challenge to combat the worldly stereotypes and prejudices that are borne by ignorance. Even in Portugal, where there was no officially recognized Jewish presence between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the stereotype persists. The expulsion decree of 1496, the forced conversions of 1497, the three centuries of the Inquisition destroyed Portuguese Judaism, erased it from the collective memory, but did not end prejudices. Today we reaffirm it through a man who does not understand the social engagement his past should force him to do.
For half a century after the war, the memory of the Holocaust limited or drowned out the public expression of anti-Semitism in Europe. That time is over. The extremes of right and left are growing and, to a certain extent, the erosion of the democratic system as we know it, with its values of minority integration, acceptance of differences and equality. Because the quality of a democracy is also checked when treating minorities.
The Colonel will surely know that it is not the 15 million or so Jews on our planet who “dominate world finance”, but you may not know and do not want to know that among those 15 million there are certainly 15 million different views, different attitudes, different behaviors. And probably more, because according to an old Jewish proverb “where there are two Jews, there are three opinions and four political parties” … Obviously you don’t know!