Steven Philip Kramer at Hedgehog Review:
In November of last year, Spain's government announced its intention to make amends for one of the greatest injustices in the nation’s history. The ministers of justice and foreign affairs promised an easing of naturalization requirements for descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492. (Portugal, which banished its Jewish population in 1497, followed suit by speedily passing a law that granted the same right to members of the Portuguese Jewish diaspora.) Slight though it might have seemed, Spain’s proposed act of restitution signaled a real commitment to righting an old and grievous wrong.
For centuries before King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile acceded to the request of the Spanish Inquisition to expel all Jews who had not converted to Christianity, the Iberian Peninsula had been home to one of the largest and most dynamic Jewish communities in the world. First under a succession of Muslim caliphs who ruled what was known as Al Andalus (the present-day region of Andalusia), then in regions slowly reconquered by Christian forces, Jews played a vital role in the intellectual, cultural, administrative, and commercial life of Spain, not least as intermediaries between the frequently antagonistic Christians and Muslims.