Jewish Community of Lisbon denies antisemitism claims against EU Council incoming President António Costa

The Jewish Community of Lisbon (CIL) made a statement asserting that they have never experienced any sign or manifestation of antisemitism from António Costa, the former Prime Minister of Portugal and incoming EU Council President.

“Considering news reports stating that ‘Porto Jews accuse incoming EU Council president of history of antisemitism’, the Jewish Community of Lisbon feels it is their duty and obligation to publicly share that at no time did they perceive any sign or concrete manifestation of antisemitism from Dr António Costa, former Prime Minister of Portugal, during his tenure.

Moreover, the Jewish Community of Lisbon recalls a meeting they had with then Prime Minister António Costa on 26th January at his official residence. This meeting took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality and lasted well over an hour. During this meeting, the Jewish Community of Lisbon expressed their displeasure with the lack of dedication and commitment from the then National Coordinator of the European Strategy to Combat Antisemitism and Promote Jewish Life, Pedro Bacelar Vasconcelos, emphasising the need for the government to quickly appoint a new responsible person, which indeed happened a few weeks later.

António Costa, as Mayor of Lisbon, was an active promoter of the celebration of Chanukkah in public spaces. Thanks to his support, Chanukkah is marked every year at the top of Eduardo VII Park.

The Jewish Community of Lisbon also reminds that they have publicly expressed reservations and criticised the way the government legislated and regulated the Nationality Law in recent years. António Costa’s governments, especially the Justice departments, made the legislation and regulations regarding the naturalisation of descendants of Sephardic Jews more complex. They did this in response to public alarm over news of alleged abuses in the issuance and granting of nationality certificates by one of the Jewish Communities in Portugal, and due to political scrutiny and media pressure. They did not act out of antisemitic motivation. There is absolutely no evidence of antisemitic motivations concerning the behaviour of the previous government.”


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