Montreal's two monuments, in MacDonald Park and Laurier Park, celebrating Queen Isabella of the Spanish Inquisition and exile of Spanish Jewry should be replaced by sculptures dedicated to social justice and the healing of the earth.
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The City of Montreal's two public monuments to Queen Isabella, who initiated the Inquisition and the expulsion of Spanish Jewry, should be replaced. The city's Isabella Ave should be either renamed or disassociated from the Queen.
What we are asking: Two public parks in the City of Montreal have monuments celebrating Queen Isabella of Spain, one of the major initiators of the Spanish Inquisition and of the expulsion of Spanish Jewry, in relation to the "discovery" of the Americas. They were placed there in 1958 and 1959, on Columbus Day, when Francisco Franco was dictator of Spain, only 13 and 14 years after the end of World War ll and the Holocaust, only about 20 years after the Spanish Civil War. They in effect celebrate the conquest of the peoples of the Americas. Montreal's Isabella Ave. was named after the Queen in 1912.
We are asking that (1) the City of Montreal and the Plateau Borough should remove the Isabella monuments in Laurier Park and (2) the Cote des Neiges/NDG borough of Montreal to remove the monument in MacDonald Park and (3) the city to change the name of Isabella Ave. or disassociate it from the Queen. It would be appropriate to replace the monuments with sculpture art dedicated to peace, social justice and to the healing of the earth.
Why we are asking this: In threatening to execute all Jews who remained in Spain, through the power of the state and Church, Queen Isabella must be defined as a genocidal figure. Forcing the Jews to wear identifying yellow patches, increasingly segregating them from the Catholic population and dispossessing them of their synagogues were shades of what was to come, not long after, with Nazi Germany.
It was Queen Isabella who signed and issued the Edict of Expulsion on March 31, 1492 to threaten Spanish Jewry with the automatic execution of those who remained three months later and did not convert to the Catholic Church:
". . . we order all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age they may be . . . . they shall leave all our said realms . . . . that they do not dare to return to them . . . if they do not do do . . . they incur the punishment of death . . . with no other trial nor sentence nor declaration."
Fourteen years earlier, in 1478 Pope Sixtus IV granted Isabella's and Ferdinand's urgent request for permission to establish a Spanish inquisition, whose purpose was to persecute, prosecute, torture and execute Jewish converts to Catholicism, most of whom were forced to convert and then were accused of leading secret Jewish lives.
Isabella, threatened the Jews of Spain with genocide, which is why it is immoral to allow a monument or place name celebrating Queen Isabella of Spain.
Section 318 of the Criminal Code of Canada defines the advocacy or promotion of genocide to be an indictable offence: " (1) Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence. . . . (2) ". . . genocide" means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, namely, (a) killing members of the he group; or (b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction."
Thousands of Spanish Jews had already been killed by the time the Edict of Expulsion was proclaimed, but even those who converted and remained could be burned alive by the Inquisition if judged to have have been secret, active Jews.
The intention of the crown was not only to liquidate Spanish Jewry, as such in 1492, but also to destroy all evidence of its history. Haim. Beinart, in his archival based book "The Expulsion of the Jews From Spain," tells us that ". . . documents convey the haste with which [synagogues and other communal] institutions were liquidated, which was one way to put an end to any memory of Spanish Jewry and to erase any reminder of centuries of Jewish life in that country. . . . The story of these buildings is the final chapter in the life of the Jewish community of Spain. . . . The fate of both the synagogues and cemeteries demonstrate the clear intention of Ferdinand and Isabella to erase all memory of Judaism from Spain."
In 1502, Isabella declared that those Moslems who refused to convert would be forced to leave Spain. Those who remained converted, but would be killed by the Inquisition if judged to still be able practising the Moslem faith. In 1609, all Moslem conversos had to leave Spain, by state decree.
The "Discovery" of the Americas: But besides celebrating the queen, Montreal's two Isabella monuments also celebrate the "discovery" of the Americas, in effect the genocide of the peoples of the Americas and an assault on their natural world.
In line with the Spanish Inquisition, formally brought to the Spanish American colonies later on, Columbus and his men had no qualms in their massive killing of the indigenous peoples.
"On the very day that Columbus finally set forth on his journey that would shake the world, writes David Stannard in his book " American Holocaust," the port of the city he sailed from [Palos, on August 3] was filled with ships that were Reporting Jews from Spain. By the time the Expulsion was complete between 120,000 and 150,000 had been driven from their homes (their valuables having first been confiscated) and then they were cast out to sea. As a one contemporary described the scene:
"It is pitiful to see their sufferings. Many were consumed by hunger, especially nursing mothers and their babies. Half-dead mothers held dying children in their arms.. . . I can hardly say how cruelly and greedily they were treated by those who transported them. Many were drowned by the avarice of the sailors, and I hose who were unable to pay their passage sold out heir children."
In his "The Rediscovery of North America," the nature conservation writer Barry Lopez tells us that "In the name of distant and abstract [state and religious] powers, the Spanish began an appropriation of the he place, a seizure of its people, its elements, whatever could be carried off."
"What followed for decades upon this discovery," Barry Lopez tells us, "
"we're acts of criminals -- murder rape, theft, kidnapping, vandalism, child I meditation, acts of cruelty, torture, and humiliation. . . . One day, in front of [the Spanish priest] Las Casas, the Spanish dismembered, beheaded or raped three thousand people. . . . The Spanish cut off the legs of children who ran from them. They poured people full of boiling soap. They made bets as to who, with one sweep of his sword, could cut a person in half. They loosed dogs that 'devoured an Indian like a hog, at first sight, in less than than a moment.' They used nursing infants for dog food.
" It was 'a continuous recreational slaughter,' by men who felt slights to their personages, imagined insults to their religion or felt thwarted in their search for gold or sexual congress."
In summing up the first Spanish assault on the Americas, historian David Stannard puts it this way: " By 1496 . . . the population of Hispaniola [Haiti and the Dominican Republic] had fallen from right million to between four and five million. By 1508 it was down to less than a hundred thousand. And by 1535, say that he leading scholars on this grim topic, 'for all practical purposes, the native population was extinct.' "/ In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of peoplone, thousands of years resident in their homeland had been exterminated. The same date befell the native peoples of the surrounding islands of the Caribbean as well."
In summary, because of he exile and persecution of Spanish Jewry and the beginnings of the assault on the peoples of the Americas in 1492, Montreal's two Queen Isabella monuments should be removed the Isabella Ave street name should be changed.
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