Why Columbus’ statue? The supposed “European Discoverer of America”?
Could it have something to do with the belief that some historians have that Columbus was born Jewish, but secretly converted to Catholicism (known as a Marrano), so that he could become more acceptable and financially successful?
There is a belief among some historians that there are three “Jewish Connection Theories” involving Columbus’ voyages.
One, that the Marrano Columbus concealed his Jewish identity to pass as Catholic to enable him to appeal to the Spanish royalty to finance his voyages of discover.
Two, that there were conversos (Jews who converted to Christianity) among his crew escaping the Spanish Inquisition.
And third, among his ship’s crew, the person we definitely know to have been Jewish before he became a converso was Yosef ben HaLevi Halvri, referred to on the voyage as Luis de Torres.
Hired as the ship’s interpreter, Torres spoke four or five different languages. Columbus believed that Torres could speak with any Jews they might find in the Chinese emperor’s court or among the merchants.
At this point, you should get out your world map or globe. Cover up North America, Central America and South America. That was “the old map” that Columbus relied upon even though there were some newer versions as other explorers began adding their findings.
Against the advice of others, he stood by the older map, eventually sailing to the Bahamas, naming it San Salvador (Holy Savior), and claiming it for Spain.
The friendly natives were the Taino people, from whom not so friendly Columbus with fewer men, but with superior weaponry and body armor, successfully subdued.
After first, forcibly collecting what gold and gems were available, Columbus established the beginnings of a plantation system before moving on.
Columbus sailed on, attempting to reach the mainland of India, but instead, landed on the shores of Cuba, thinking it was China. (Check your map.)
Luis de Torres and a sailor were sent ashore, meeting friendly natives, who introduced them to the smoking of tobacco. They therefore became the first westerners to smoke tobacco.
Another “first” is that Yosef ben HaLevi Halvri (Torres) may be considered the first Jew to reach America.
Columbus left Torres and three dozen sailors on the island before returning to Spain with six natives as captive slaves.
After being presented to the Spanish royal family, the Taino slaves were paraded through the streets of Barcelona and Seville for all to see.
Upon Columbus’ return to
“India” (or so he thought) on November, 27, 1493, he found the village had been destroyed and tragically, all the inhabitants, including Torres and the crew members had been killed.
But what is the reason for the current criticism against Columbus and the honors that had been bestowed upon him?
Christopher Columbus has the notorious distinction of using the Taino as slave labor to extricate valuable metals, sugar. and other crops, eventually supplying many more natives to the international slave market.
The Spanish Royal family had promised Columbus 10% of the profits, but withheld much of it and imprisoned him and his brothers for six weeks as punishment for their mismanagement of the islands and their tyrannical harsh treatment of the natives.
I like to think that if Torres (Halvri), the first Jew in America, had not been killed, he might have influenced Columbus to be a kinder, gentler soul in dealing with the indigenous people.