When our friend Fausta of The Bad Hair Blog first pointed me to a post at the always-interesting Spanish blog Desde Sefarad about anti-Semitic comments by renowned Spanish thriller writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte, I was, of course, dismayed. Fausta was correct in assuming I would be a fan of Pérez-Reverte, whose novels always have intriguing backgrounds, notably The Club Dumas set in the world of rare book collectors. I didn’t comment about it at the time because I didn’t trust my Spanish translating abilities (although I certainly got the swearing–those words were some of the first I learned in the language). But the bilingual Fausta has now provided translations of her own, both from APR and Desde Sefarad.
As José Cohen of DS notes, APR’s casual dismissal of Jews is not surprising because anti-Semitism has become chic in Spanish intellectual circles. I am sure Pérez-Reverte himself would shriek when accused of it. (There is plenty of casual anti-Americanism in his remarks as well–also chic.) What’s particularly sad about Spanish anti-Semitism is that an extraordinary number of people in that country have at least some Jewish blood. Five hundred years after the Inquisition these people still seem to be in hiding to some degree — mostly in hiding from themselves. The irony is that many of them are now self-described atheists or agnostics. They, of all people, should be free of the fear of racial opprobrium. But never underestimate the human need to be considered part of the “in crowd,” whether that crowd be the Falange or The Club Dumas.