Brazilian federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of right-wing dictatorship fanatic President Jair Bolsonaro, announced recently that the country will be moving to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. “Inside the government, we are debating the ways to stop terrorist groups from coming to Brazil,” Bolsonaro stated. “We are going to follow Argentina, declaring that Hezbollah is a terrorist group.”
Not only Hezbollah is being targeted with this designation. Bolsonaro’s son has also declared that the Brazilian government will be “considering a harsher stance on terrorist groups Hamas, Al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram.” Israel praised Brazil’s decision as part of the fight against “Iranian-sponsored terrorism”. Since the US declared its war on terror following September 11, Israel has appropriated the narrative and used it to gain diplomatic leverage for its murderous colonial policies, while strangling Palestinian resistance in the process. Unsurprisingly, Brazil will be joining other countries supportive of Israel’s security narrative in blurring the distinction between legitimate resistance movements and terrorist groups. That narrative is anything but democratic.
For the right wing Israeli and Brazilian governments, resistance movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah on one hand, and the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) are terrorists, as Bolsonaro declared recently in one of his usual tirades. In defence of Israel’s purported security narrative, Brazil will be employing a designation on Hezbollah and Hamas which has nothing to do with terrorism and everything with how state terror seeks to delegitimise anti-colonial struggle.
As democracy moves even further away from its principles, becoming a label utilised by the right-wing in its quest to annihilate opposition, resistance movements become even more marginalised politically. Needless to say, Brazil’s move will endear it to the US and Washington’s own dissemination of Israel’s security versus terror narrative. Criminalising resistance movements has one main aim, to delegitimise resistance and, as a result, alter the understanding of what constitutes “terrorism”.
Categorising Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, alongside terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram builds upon the US-Israeli narrative of seeking to undermine Iranian influence in Latin America. Paraguay, Colombia and Honduras have already adopted this narrative since last year. It ignores the simple fact that Hamas has never carried the struggle for freedom from Israeli occupation beyond the borders of historical Palestine.
The right-wing surge in the region is not conducive to diplomatic support for Palestine, let alone Palestinian resistance. Hamas is already ostracised politically, but the US-Israeli scheming will continue to seek unanimous support for the narrative which allows the far-right to define terror at the expense of the occupied and oppressed.
Bolsonaro has stated on occasions that he seeks further alignment with the US in terms of policy. The latest decision strikes at the heart of Palestinian resistance at a time when Palestinians are in need of diplomatic support due to Trump’s deal of the century versus the two-state compromise dead ends in terms of opportunity. The more that Palestinians are obscured from the political process, the easier it is to simplify, albeit erroneously, the Palestinian cause into an issue between a “democratic state” and “terror”. This is part of the strategy that the US and Israel are pursuing, which is to have a monopoly over who decides that the definition of state-sponsored terror of the kind practiced by Israel and other right-wing governments is somehow “democratic”. That is far from the truth.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.