Memorial-Lisbon Massacre 1506-Alma Gottlieb

Dear Mayor Costa,
I have recently learned that the City Council of Lisbon was planning to pass a motion on October 30 to install, in St. Dominic's Square, a memorial to the Jews who were massacred on that very square in Lisbon in 1506, and to all who have suffered discrimination and personal villainy in Portugal because of their origin, conviction or ideas. I applaud this effort and urge you to carry it forward.
As a scholar who lived in Lisbon last year while starting a new research project focusing on Cape Verdeans who have some Jewish ancestry, I have come to care about Portugal deeply, and it gratified me to learn that the country was beginning to come to terms with its intolerant past in this modest but symbolically resonant and appropriate way. It now grieves me to learn that the motion is currently being blocked because of intervention by the Catholic church.
As many historians have written, those who are ignorant of their history are doomed to repeat it. A public reminder of the country's grave mistakes will serve as an important lesson and warning to the citizens of the future.
I lived in Lisbon during the period when you were elected as president of the City Council, and I was highly impressed by the integrity you demonstrated concerning many diverse issues. I am confident that your ethical instincts will prevail, and that you will manage to put this important initiative back up for discussion and, ultimately, that you will count as one of your prouder achievements that the aforementioned monument will have been commissioned and installed under your wise leadership.

Alma Gottlieb
Professor of Anthropology, Women's Studies and African Studies
Member, Campus Honors Faculty; Interdisciplinary Concentration in
Cultural Studies and Interpretive Research
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
109 Davenport Hall
Urbana, IL 61801
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