Porto Jewish community pushing to reinstate ‘Portuguese Dreyfus’ into army
Arthur Carlos Barros Basto was a Portuguese army officer and the founder of the Portuguese Jewish community of Porto. Nicknamed “the Portuguese Dreyfus”, he was declared “immoral” in June 1937 for helping descendants of returning Jews to be circumcised. And now, he is yet again, at the center of things as a campaign led by the Porto Jewish community’s current leaders, a hundred years after its foundation in 1923, for the Portuguese state to posthumously reinstate its founder in the army, unjustly expelled for practicing Judaism.
The Porto community has referred to Arthur Carlos de Barros Basto, a former army captain who died in 1961, as “the Portuguese Alfred Dreyfus” – a reference to the French army captain whose wrongful conviction for treason served as a catalyst for modern Zionism.
Three weeks ago, the community asked the European Commission to open an impartial international investigation into “an anti-Semitic action that took place in Portugal with thieves, murderers and convicts who intended to defame the community the strongest Jew in the country, to destroy the Jewish leaders, to stop the influx of Israeli citizens and to put an end to the law which granted Portuguese citizenship to Jews of Portuguese origin”, according to Gabriel Senderowicz, president of the Jewish community of Port. The current campaign, to reinstate Barros Basto as a colonel, a rank he would have reached in 1945 had he not been expelled, is actually being led by none other than Barros Basto’s granddaughter, Isabel Barros Lopes, who is trying to to make the efforts of her mother and grandmother to have him reinstated posthumously come to fruition, though has so far been unsuccessful.
Barros Basto had reportedly converted to Judaism in 1920, established a Jewish school, a yeshiva, a Jewish newspaper, and is seen as the founder of the Porto Jewish community. It’s time for the country recognize Barros Basto as well.