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by [?]

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Washington Irving once spoke of Spain as the Paradise of Jews. But it must be borne in mind that he wrote the words in Granada, which was essentially a Moorish province. The Moors and the Jews are both Semitic in origin–they trace back to a common ancestry. It was the Moslem Moors that welcomed the Jews in both Venetia and Spain, not the Christians. The wealth, energy and practical business sense of the Jews recommended them to the grandees of Leon, Aragon and Castile. To the Jews they committed their exchequer, the care of their health, the setting of their jewels, and the fashioning of their finery. In this genial atmosphere many of the Jews grew great in the study of science, literature, history, philosophy and all that makes for mental betterment. They increased in numbers, in opulence and in culture. Their thrift and success set them apart as a mark for hate and envy.

It was a period of ominous peace, of treacherous repose.

A senseless and fanatical cry went up, that the Moors–the infidels–must be driven from Spain. The iniquities and inhuman barbarities visited upon the Mohammedan Moors would make a book in itself, but let it go at this: Ferdinand and Isabella drove the Mohammedans from Spain. In the struggle, the Jews were overlooked–and anyway, Christians do not repudiate the Old Testament, and if the Jews would accept Christ, why, they could remain!

It looked easy to the gracious King and Queen of Spain–it was really generous: two religions were unnecessary, and Christianity was beautiful and right. If the Jews would become Catholics, all barriers would be removed–the Jews would be recognized as citizens and every walk of life would be open to them.

This manifesto to the Jews is still quoted by Churchmen to show the excellence, tolerance, patience and love of the Spanish rulers. Turn your synagogues over to the Catholics–come and be one with us–we will all worship the one God together–come, these open arms invite–no distinctions–no badges–no preferences–no prejudices–come!

In quoting the edict it is not generally stated that the Jews were given thirty days to make the change.

The Jews who loved their faith fled; the weak succumbed, or pretended to. If a Jew wished to flee the country he could, but he must leave all his property behind. This caused many to remain and profess Christianity, only awaiting a time when their property could be turned into gold or jewels and be borne upon the person. This fondness for concrete wealth is a race instinct implanted in the Jewish mind by the inbred thought that possibly tomorrow he must fly.

After attending service at a Catholic Church, Jews would go home and in secret read the Talmud and in whispers chant the Psalms of David.

Laws were passed making such action a penal offense–spies were everywhere. No secret can be kept long, and in the Province of Seville over two thousand Jews were hanged or burned in a single year. When Ferdinand and Isabella gave Torquemada, Deza and Lucio orders to make good Catholics of all Jews, they had not the faintest idea what would be the result. Every Jew that was hurried to the stake was first stripped of his property.

No Jew was safe, especially if he was rich–his sincerity or insincerity had really little to do in the matter. The prisons were full, the fagots crackled, the streets ran blood, and all in the name of the gentle Christ.

Then for a time the severity relaxed, for the horror had spent itself. But early in the Seventeenth Century the same edicts were again put forth.

Fortunately, priesthood had tried its mailed hand on the slow and sluggish Dutch, with the result that the Spaniards were driven from the Netherlands. Holland was the home of freedom. Amsterdam became a Mecca for the oppressed. The Jews flocked thither, and among others who, in Sixteen Hundred Thirty-one, landed on the quay was a young Jew by the name of Michael d’Espinoza. With him was a Moorish girl that he had rescued from the clutch of a Spanish grandee, in whose house she had been kept a prisoner.