A Spanish village promoting its Jewish roots has come under repeated attacks from religious extremists, said its mayor last month.
A little over two years ago, the small village in Spain shot to fame after deciding to finally break all possible links to the persecution of Jews at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. After holding a referendum, the village’s 56 registered inhabitants jointly agreed to drop its medieval name, Castrillo Matajudios (Little Hill Fort of Jew Killers) and change it to Castrillo Mota de Judios (Little Hill Fort of Jews) in May 2014. Since then however, Castrillo Mota de Judios has witnessed repeated acts of vandalism, anti-Semitic graffiti in particular.
While filing a police complaint last month after unidentified vandals sprayed anti-Semitic slogans and fascist graffiti over the village’s brand new road signs, Mayor Lorenzo Rodriguez Perez attributed the attacks to religious extremists. He said the signboards, which were installed only last October, would now have to be replaced.
According to Perez, there have been several incidents where religious extremists spray painted offensive graffiti onto the façade of the town hall and vandalized public benches in various parts of the village.
“A name change, sadly, doesn’t only bring about positive consequences and the respect it deserves,” Pérez said. “There are some people who want us to forget the Jews — and certainly not get closer to Israel — but we will not bow to any attempt to create a threatening environment here.”
As part of Castrillo Mota de Judios’ overhaul, Perez’s office has been trying to promote the village’s Jewish roots and historical significance, recently sanctioning an archaeological project that would reveal the remains of an ancient synagogue and other buried artifacts of the settlement. Later this month, Perez is also expected to lead a delegation of seven officials from Castrillo Mota de Judios for a weeklong trip to Israel where the Spanish village would be recognized as the twin settlement of an Israeli community called Kfar Vradim.
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