Diplomacy, Propaganda, and Humanitarian Gestures: Francoist Spain and Egyptian Jews, 1956-1968
ResumenHistorians still debate over the help extended by Francoist Spain to European Jews during the Holocaust. The Spanish dictatorship always exaggerated the extent of this assistance. This propagandist effort on the part of the Spanish regime to portray itself as the savior of Jews in distress, especially Jews of Sephardic origin, was put to the test during the 1950s and 1960s, when Madrid was asked to help Egyptian Jews following the 1956 and 1967 wars in the Middle East. Based on research in Spanish and Israeli archives, this article argues that: a) Spain could have done more to help Egyptian Jews. Its policy was unclear and inconsistent. Moreover, the assistance that was finally given was intended mainly to improve the dictatorship’s image in the eyes of Western democratic public opinion; b) the Francoist dictatorship did its best to prevent the settlement of Jews in Spain; c) the help extended to Egyptian Jews owed more to the initiatives of individual Spanish diplomats than to the policy adopted by the Spanish government; d) all this notwithstanding, the help given by Spain to Egyptian Jews should be appreciated and considered within the context of its overall effort to save Jews in distress in other Arab countries in the post-World War II period.
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