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La República

Resposta pública al diari israelià Haaretz

El passat 17 de setembre el diari israelià Haaretz va publicar l’article “Torches in Barcelona” on, posant-se en la pell d’un turista israelià, parlava de Catalunya, la seva història, la […]

Col·lectiu Emma
Col·lectiu Emma 19/09/2009

El passat 17 de setembre el diari israelià Haaretz va publicar l’article “Torches in Barcelona” on, posant-se en la pell d’un turista israelià, parlava de Catalunya, la seva història, la seva relació amb Espanya i el boicot a la cantant Noa en la Diada.

Des del Col·lectiu Emma hem volgut respondre a aquest article per matisar algunes afirmacions que realitza i explicar la demanda més autogovern de Catalunya i per què molts catalans volen la independència. Així expliquem com Catalunya, després de més de 40 anys de dictadura, va donar suport a les noves institucions democràtiques espanyoles, però els resultats en termes d’autogovern (com per exemple un sistema de finançament just) són molt reduïdes. L’article també es pregunta com és possible que Catalunya no vulgui formar part d’una “pròspera” Espanya: les dades d’atur, dèficit públic o les males perspectives de recuperació econòmica segons l’OCDE qüestionen que Espanya sigui un “gran club” al que val la pena pertànyer. També volem constatar l’europeisme català (que queda en entredit en l’article), i de fet expliquem que el que aspirem molts és precisament ser presents directament a Europa, i no a través d’un estat, Espanya, que no representa els interessos dels catalans.

L’article de Haaretz, tot i afirmar que les comparacions nacionals són complicades, compara els catalans amb els palestins que viuen a Israel. Nosaltres, acceptant aquesta complicació de comparar diferents nacions, pensem que Catalunya s’assembla més a una nació avançada, democràtica i dinàmica envoltada per veïns que no accepten la seva existència i fan esforços per eliminar la seva llengua, cultura i forma de vida. Aquesta situació segurament és familiar a molts lectors de Haaretz..

Per últim, referit a l’incident amb la cantant Noa, volem remarcar que el boicot només representava el pensament d’un partit neo-comunista, actualment Govern de Catalunya, i que amb aquest acte van quedar en ridícul davant de tothom. Israel ha captat moltes més simpaties a Catalunya que a molts altres llocs d’Europa.

A Public Reply to the Haaretz
Dear Sirs,

After reading your article of September 17 (Torches in Barcelona), we feel that the following notes might help your baffled Israeli tourist better understand some of the reasons behind the Catalans’ drive towards independence.

Your correspondent gives a fair account of the historical roots of the conflict between Catalonia and Spain, especially when pointing out that Catalans have always tried to “fight for their freedom by democratic means” in a context of “occupation, assimilation and repression”.

Indeed, with General Franco’s death in the mid 1970’s and the end of a 40-year dictatorship, most Catalans tentatively supported the new Spanish institutions hoping that a democratic regime would finally face reality and embrace the idea of a multinational State. But, like the Palestinians in Abba Eban’s fortunate phrase, Spain has never missed a chance to miss a chance. All that the new order would offer was a form of administrative decentralization where no distinctions were made between historical nations like Catalonia or the Basque Country and fifteen other territories, many of them created ad hoc. By lowering the standard in such a way, the Spanish government managed to hold on to all real power and, most importantly, still kept the final say on all financial matters. A particularly vexing feature of the so-called autonomic system is that, after paying dearly for the services provided by the central government, a dynamic community like Catalonia is forced to lay out what amounts to an extra tribute that the State then employs to finance itself and to subsidize territories that wouldn’t stand a chance on their own. There is a case to be made for a well-designed system of assistance to less developed areas, but even an exaction representing every year a staggering 10% of the Catalan GDP doesn’t seem to have had much effect in terms of making the recipients more productive. That, together with the large sums dispensed by the European Union through the years, helps to explain how what had always been a backward and sluggish country can now present itself to the world as the “developed, prosperous Spain” that you refer to.

If you need proof that Spain is not all that it’s cracked up to be, just direct your attention to the latest figures published by the OECD, describing the country’s real situation: unemployment is about to hit 20%, the budget deficit will probably reach 10% of the GDP in 2009 and the prospects for recovery from the present crisis are the worst in Western Europe. Definitely not such a desirable club to be a member of. So after all the Catalans’ dissatisfaction may well be the result of a sober assessment of Spain’s place in the world and of what Spain means for them. In any case, it has noting to do with hatred of Spaniards, and we strongly resent that inference in your article. One thing that you could ask yourselves, however, is why Spaniards do hate Catalans so. And, incidentally, Catalans have no quarrel with Europe, as your article seems to imply. On the contrary, one could hardly find more devoted supporters of a unified and borderless continent, except we’d rather cut out the middleman, a State that does not necessarily represent our interests.

We also think that the parallel you draw between Catalans in Barcelona and Israeli Arabs in Haifa is wide of the mark. “Comparisons between national struggles are tricky”, indeed, but if you still want to compare the Catalan issue with the goings-on in the Middle East, think of us as a small advanced, democratic and reasonably successful nation sitting next to a larger, more powerful and yet inadequate neighbor that simply won’t accept our existence and still hasn’t given up its ambition of wiping out our culture, our history and our way of life. Does that sound familiar?

Just a final note on the incident with the Israeli singer known to the world as Noa: it epitomizes the woolly thinking of the neo-communist party – now a junior partner in the Catalan government – when it comes to the situation in the Middle East, and also reflects the influence of the Palestinian lobby in those circles. In the end, those who put on their grotesque little routine during the singer’s performance only made fools of themselves. There is anti-semitism in Spain, but we’d venture to say that you’d need to look for it beyond Catalonia, where, outside the above-mentioned circles, Israel has always attracted more sympathies than in many other parts of Europe.