Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen has called Spain Europe's "hub of Islamist terror" and has been encouraging Jews to buy property in Israel after the deadly attacks in Catalonia.
He says the Jewish community is doomed, because authorities all over Europe are reluctant to confront Muslims.
In an interview with JTA, he described Spain as a “hub of Islamist terror for all of Europe”. The jihadist attacks on Thursday and Friday, killed at least 13. Five suspected terrorists were killed in Barcelona and the resort town of Cambrils.
“Jews are not here permanently,” Bar-Hen said. “I tell my congregants: Don’t think we’re here for good. And I encourage them to buy property in Israel. This place is lost. Don’t repeat the mistake of Algerian Jews, of Venezuelan Jews. Better [get out] early than late.”
The problem exposed by the attacks, Bar-Hen said, is the presence of the large Muslim community with its “radical fringes”. Once these people are “living among you,” he added, “it’s very difficult to get rid of them. They only get stronger.” He also said this applied to Europe as a whole. “Europe is lost,” he said.
Police meanwhile raided the flat of an imam who they believe may have radicalised the Barcelona and Cambrils attackers.
The El Pais daily, quoting police sources, said an imam could be one of the dead in the explosion of Alcanar. Speaking anonymously, a Spanish police official said Abdelbaki es Satty might have been a second fatal victim of a failed bomb-making operation in a house south of Barcelona on Wednesday.
Sky News reported that Abdelbaki es Satty, the imam, was the ringleader of a terror cell and responsible for directing the terrorists to commit the attacks in Spain which killed 14 people, law enforcement believes.
Es Satty started teaching in mosques in his local area of Ripoll in 2015 and was part of the local Muslim community, but his neighbours told El Pais his teachings about Islam were not radical.
Head of Catalonia’s police, Josep Lluis Trapero, said earlier that the explosion had forced terrorists to drop their original plan. “They were preparing one or several attacks in Barcelona and an explosion in Alcanar stopped this as they no longer had the material they needed to commit attacks of an even bigger scope,” he said.
The man hunt for the suspect driving the van in Barcelona – 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub – continues.
The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain issued a statement expressing “full confidence in security forces who work daily to prevent fanatics and radical Muslims from inflicting pain and chaos on our cities.”
But according to Bar-Hen, authorities and politicians are reluctant to confront Islamist terrorism. He cited the government’s decision in April to allow Leila Khaled, a Palestinian terrorist who was convicted in a plot to hijacking an airplane in 1969, to enter the country for book festival. This showed authorities “do not understand the nature of terrorism, if they treat it as an action by the disenfranchised,” Bar-Hen said.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau Ballano of the far-left Barcelona en Comú party led the passage in April of a city council resolution condemning Israel’s “violations of international law”, but welcomed Khaled.
On Friday, Colau Ballano wrote on Facebook: “Barcelona is a city of peace. Terror will not make us stop being who we are: a brave city open to the world.”
But Bar-Hen said he may not attend the rally called by Colau Ballano. Spanish security officials have already instructed him to avoid public areas in the coming days because he is recognizably Jewish.
On the same day that a terrorist mowed down innocent people, the EU tweeted: “The untapped potential of migration to the EU: how refugees can inspire us all.”