Was Christopher Columbus Jewish?

I find this article very interesting:

I am among those that consider Columbus a Sephardi, that is, a Sephardic Jew. Simon Wiesenthal postulates that Columbus was careful to conceal his Judaism. Others have argued that Columbus was a “converso”, a Sephardic Jew who publicly converted to Christianity. Another word commonly used was “Marrano”, a Jew living in the Iberian Peninsula who converted or was forced to convert to Christianity, many of whom continued to practice Judaism in secret. In the Caribbean Sephardic Jews were sometimes known as “Portugals” or Portuguese because they originated there or settled in that country after the expulsion of 1492.

My favorite Spanish historian, Don Salvador de Madariaga, one of the xxth century’s most prominent Spanish statesmen and a former professor at Oxford University describes Columbus’ Jewish roots in what I consider an almost definitive biography: “Vida del Muy Magnífico Señor Don Cristóbal Colón”. The presence of a good number of “conversos” in Columbus’ ship is described by José Amador de los Rios in his “Historia Social, Política y Religiosa de los Judíos de España y Portugal”. That is also the opinion of Simon Wiesenthal in his book “Sails of Hope: The Secret Mission of Christopher Columbus”. Let me quote: “By midnight August 2, 1492, all Jews must leave Spanish soil. That same night, the three sailing ships which are to carry Christopher Columbus on his voyage of discovery are anchored quietly in Palos harbor – and although they are not scheduled to embark until the following day, Columbus has ordered his crew to be on board by eleven, but strangely enough, not a single priest is included. The auspicious coincidence of these two events – compounded with the intense mystery which has always surrounded the identity of Columbus – has led to a complete reexamination of all previously accepted theories about the true nature of his mission.”

End of quote.

This is very much in line with what Henry Ford wrote in 1920:

The story of the Jews in America begins with Christopher Columbus. On August 2, 1492, more than 300,000 Jews were expelled from Spain, with which event Spain’s prestige began its long decline, and on August 3, the next day, Columbus set sail for the West, taking a group of Jews with him. They were not, however, refugees, for the prophetic navigator’s plans had aroused the sympathy of influential Jews for a long period previously. Columbus himself tells us that he consorted much with Jews. The first letter he wrote detailing his discoveries was to a Jew. Indeed, the eventful voyage itself which added to men’s knowledge and wealth “the other half of the earth” was made possible by Jews.

The pleasant story that it was Queen Isabella’s jewels which financed the voyage has disappeared under cool research. There were three Maranos or “secret Jews” who wielded great influence at the Spanish court: Luis de Santagel, who was an important merchant of Valencia and who was “farmer” of the royal taxes; his relative, Gabriel Sanchez, who was the royal treasurer; and their friend, the royal chamberlain, Juan Cabrero. These worked unceasingly on Queen Isabella’s imagination, picturing to her the depletion of the royal treasury and the likelihood of Columbus discovering the fabulous gold of the Indies, until the Queen was ready to offer her jewels in pawn for the funds. But Santagel craved permission to advance the money himself, which he did, 17,000 ducats in all, about $20,000, perhaps equal to $160,000 today. It is probable that the loan exceeded the expedition’s cost.
Associated with Columbus in the voyage were at least five Jews: Luis de Torres, interpreter; Marco, the surgeon; Bernal, the physician; Alonzo de la Calle, and Gabriel Sanchez. The astronomical instruments and maps which the navigators used were of Jewish origin. Luis de Torres was the first man ashore, the first to discover the use of tobacco; he settled in Cuba and may be said to be the father of Jewish control of the tobacco business as it exists today.

Columbus’ old patrons, Luis de Santagel and Gabriel Sanchez, received many privileges for the part they played in the work, but Columbus himself became the victim of a conspiracy fostered by Bernal, the ship’s doctor, and suffered injustice and imprisonment as his reward.

End of quote.

Perhaps this is also why Columbus  is credited with discovering America, which we know is not true, since there is abundant evidence of earlier European visitation to the North American continent, including the corn – a crop native to the Americas – carved in Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. But we know who writes what we take to be history in the majority of cases.

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