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Mon Sep 28, 2020, 09:27 PM

Palestinian refugee receives Spanish citizenship after discovering Jewish Sephardic roots



As a U.K.-based academic who was born in Dubai to a Palestinian father and Lebanese mother, Heba Nabil Iskandarani had plenty of potential national identities.

What she lacked, however, was a passport.

A 26-year-old lecturer in architecture at Birmingham City University, Iskandarani has been stateless for most of her life, possessing only a Lebanese travel document that defines her as a Palestinian refugee.

But after discovering that her Palestinian father had Jewish roots going back to Spain, Iskandarani was able to claim Spanish citizenship thanks to a 2015 law that promised to naturalize anyone whose Jewish ancestors fled the Spanish Inquisition.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Iskandarani attributed her quest for citizenship as rooted in both an emotional search for an identity and as a practical remedy to the bureaucratic complications that resulted from her lack of national citizenship.

“This deep addiction for belonging made me look deeper into my family history,” Iskandarani wrote in a Sept. 12 Facebook post. “I wanted to find a solution to break the cycle of shame, the feeling of being less than all. I needed an identity a country to fall back too [sic]...”


Palestinian refugee receives Spanish citizenship after discovering Jewish Sephardic roots

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