As it did after the Cuban government justified the Hamas attack on Israel, Cuba’s Jewish community has again rejected the dictatorship’s unequivocally pro-Palestinian position, this time responding to Mariela Castro’s recent “unofficial” remarks at an anti-Zionist function at the University of Havana (previously covered here). The Castro heiress, wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh, advocated for a radical response to what Cuba’s designated dictator Díaz-Canel has called “the holocaust perpetrated by Israel” in Gaza. No doubt she had Daddy Raúl’s approval.
The Federation of Jewish Religious Communities of Cuba, in a statement issued via Facebook, is remarkably bold and forthright in speaking truth to power. It begins by brushing aside Mariela’s risible claim that she was only speaking for herself as a “citizen of the world.” It calls out her ignorance and distortion of both the current and the historical reality, her profound antisemitism, and her disrespect for Israel. It proceeds to school her on the history of the Jews and their contributions to humanity, and reminds her that Jews do not need her approval to form a legitimate nation state.
It goes on to state her words are an incitement to Judenhass (Jew-hatred) and threaten the stability of Cuba’s Jewish community and its relations with the rest of Cuban society, citing negative changes already noted by Cuba’s Jewish students at all levels in how they are regarded and treated by others. It expresses support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, assuming mutual commitment to peace and coexistence, and stresses that the current war is not against Palestinians as such but against Hamas, a flagrantly terrorist organization.
The statement recognizes the right of Cuba’s government to support Palestinians, but urges full disclosure of the horrors perpetrated by Hamas on October 7 against innocent Jewish men, women, children and elderly, as well as the 240-some hostages taken and still held by Hamas (as opposed to focusing only on Palestinian casualties). It expresses sorrow for every innocent Palestinian victim of this war against terrorists, and points out that is not just due to the war as such but to the habitual Hamas practice of using Palestinian civilians as human shields.
Finally, Cuba’s Jewish community recalls it belongs to a generation whose grandparents died by genocide because they kept silent, combined with the complicit silence of others. It affirms a key tenet of the annual day of Shoah remembrance, never again, and declares it will never keep quiet when faced with racial hatred, antisemitism and anti-Judaism (implicitly saying Mariela Castro and the regime she represents are guilty of those things).
At best, the powers that be will ignore this missive as the ravings of hysterical Jews, but one cannot exclude the possibility of reprisal, though the regime can afford to be “tolerant” here. Still, Mariela Castro is not a minor player like Aleida (daughter of Che) Guevara or First Wife Lis Cuesta (both of whom have come out swinging against Israel). Mariela is the militant daughter of Cuba’s real dictator, hijita de papá and Castro princess, and may not be amused. In any case, one must admire the zeal and courage Cuba’s Jews have shown, for surely they know where they live.