He Simon Wiesenthal Center and more than 20 Spanish-speaking Jewish communities from different countries have come together to formally request the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) to suppress the meaning of Jewish that appears in its “Dictionary of the language” as “greedy person or usurer”.
As reported this Wednesday by the promoters of this initiative, they allege that it is “offensive, which defines in pejorative and discriminatory terms to a community of identity, and that does not reflect the use of current language in the Spanish-speaking community, where respect and the promotion of diversity and multiculturalism prevail.
The letter, which “appeals to the sensitivity of the RAE to promote respectful and inclusive language”, was presented in the academy’s registry and also requests the complete suppression of the “Jewish” entry, which is defined in its first meaning as “trick or action that hurts someone.”
“We understand that the dictionary definitions reflect the use of language and do not by themselves promote hateful behavior, but They should be corrected as they are totally anachronistic to the social and cultural reality of the 21st century”, argues the lawyer Boja Luján Lago, who represents these communities located in countries such as Panama, Spain, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile or Uruguay.
The Latin American office of the Wiesenthal Center supported the initiative in a statement where it stated that “supporting the validity in the dictionary of such meanings is humiliating in itself, and even more so to normalize their use in common language.”
“Without a doubt, the definitions set forth are offensive and discriminatory towards our community, sullying its identity, and do not reflect the current use of language in the context of the Spanish-speaking community, where respect and promotion of diversity and multiculturalism predominate.” He highlighted the international Jewish human rights organization that has more than 400,000 members and is a consultative member of the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO).
Ariel Gelblung, director of the Wiesenthal Center for Latin America, also made comments in this regard: “We understand that language is alive and changing and therefore reflects a given moment and historical context and does not per-se promote hateful behavior. However, in this case we can presume that the terms that have been crystallized in the Dictionary denote what we could call a anti-semitic bias prior to the Expulsion Edict of 1492 and that the same has been maintained throughout the centuries, even though there had been no Jewish presence in Spain until the end of the 19th century when some Jews began to return, and continues to the present. Therefore, we enthusiastically join the initiative aimed at urging the RAE to promote a respectful and inclusive language that accounts for the social and cultural reality of the 21st century”.
In the past, the RAE has already received requests in the same direction, such as when in 2022 the mother of an adolescent with autism made a request to which the Spanish Senate joined in seeking the suppression of the meaning of “autistic” as an insult. .
A few years before, the RAE agreed to modify the meaning of gypsy as “trickster” in its dictionary, by incorporating a note of “offensive and discriminatory” use, in response to the request of the entities of the State Council of the Gypsy People of Spain .
(With information from EFE)