During the last years many European countries are perceiving a new wave of revisionism which challenges the current Supra national political architecture. The revisionism is far from being monolithic: Some question the whole building (Ex. Brexit); others demand more integration while in many cases the demand is toward a new structure focused on reshaping the building blocks in favor of local/regional entities. Since Catalonia is the closest case to the last option, we will try to see how a small community should respond to the challenge with special emphasis on the third item.
The Catalan case is not only the most recent but also the closer which affects our foreseen future. Generally speaking during the last decade a growing share out of Catalonia’s citizens have been demanding a reshape of the relation between the region (ap. 20% out of Spain population) and the world. At the most radical expression app. 50% of the Catalan population is clearly in favor of a clear breakup form Spain and the formation of a new State. The demand stems from a mixture of fiscal/economic motivations and a sense of self local identity to which, according to them the actual system does not satisfy.
The first question (relevant not only to this specific case) is whether a Jewish Community should have a common voice in political matters. It is quite natural that the political general spectrum is represented in the community, so any clear position may find resistance among members. The Catalan case is more delicate as the debate surpasses the traditional political arena and deals with questions of legitimacy and the rule of the Law.
Even if the community manages to maintain certain distance from controversies, the need to maintain working relationships with both local and national public institutions becomes a challenge. That challenge stems is intensified by the fact that the internal debate in Catalonia is much more than a traditional political controversy arena: For example the way people interact (Language) is extremely delicate and in many cases the use of certain terminology can be regarded as politically incorrect (for example, which “Government” is the beneficiary of the “Prayer for the Government”?).
A second aspect is related to the relations between communities. As of Spain, the Jewish federation is composed by communities and not by local federations, with a relative important weight to the most powerful community which is Madrid. There is no question that the perception of the Catalan question is viewed from Madrid
The last aspect is the question of identity: The modern Jewish community in Catalonia is less than 100 years old and in many cases the members are newcomers with roots in Spanish speaking countries. Therefore for many Jews the internal identity debate is irrelevant. All that said, the resurge of identity versus citizenship is a warning sign that should be tracked closely. Most of the civil rights gained by Jews and other minorities along the last 200 years are the result of the center role of the “Citizen” versus the old local/national criterion.