An estimated 350,000 Israeli tourists visit Spain every year, but that hasn’t stopped the city council of Santiago de Compostela from trying to boycott Israel.
The Spanish branch of El Al, Israel’s national airline, had been negotiating with tourist officials from Galicia, Spain, the launching of a direct flight connecting Santiago de Compostela and Tel Aviv last November, but talks were scrapped following the Santiago city council passage of a motion in support of boycotting Israel, La Voz de Galicia reported on Wednesday.
Tourism is a major source of income in Galicia, where unemployment stands at almost 50% for people under 25. Santiago is the famous destination of the Catholic pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago. It attracts more than 250,000 pilgrims and other tourists annually.
Walter Wasercier, the director of El Al’s Spain operations, told La Voz de Galicia that he had personally pushed for opening the flight this summer. An estimated 350,000 Israeli tourists visit Spain every year.
Marta Lois, Santiago’s alderwoman for tourism, denied that any talks on opening a flight to Israel had taken place while saying that in any case they would not have been sabotaged by a call to boycott Israel.
But the Galician Association for Friendship with Israel told the Voz de Galicia that back in April El Al opened a flight to Valencia instead of to Santiago was a direct result of the boycott motion.
ACOM, a Madrid-based, pro-Israel group which is fighting the boycott campaign against Israel in Spain, blamed Santiago’s far-left ruling party of running the city “ineptly.”
The anti-Israel boycott movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts against Israel, ostensibly as a nonviolent struggle against the so-called “Israeli occupation.”
Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism, and its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.
By: JNI.Media and World Israel News Staff