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Israel: Brazil's Lula is not welcome here after Holocaust remarks

February 19, 2024 at 4:00 pm

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brasilia, Brazil, on 18 December, 2023 [Mateus Bonomi/Anadolu Agency]

Brazilian President Lula Da Silva appears to have angered his country’s Jewish community and pro-Israel groups after comparing the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip to the Holocaust in a press conference after participating in the 37th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday.

Jewish representatives described Lula´s remark as “Shameful and endlessly evil”, in a country which has the second largest community of Jews in Latin America. For the Israeli Confederation of Brazil [CONIB], Lula’s statement was a “perverse distortion of reality” and “offends the memoranda of the victims of the Holocaust and their descendants.”

“CONIB refutes President Lula’s baseless statements comparing the Holocaust to the Israeli State defence action against the terrorist group Hamas. Nazis exterminated 6 million defenseless Jews in Europe just because they were Jewish,” the body that  represents the country’s 120,000 Jews said.

The Israeli Confederation of Brazil argues that Israel’s actions are in “self-defence, Israel is already defending itself from a terrorist group that invaded the country, killed more than a thousand people, promoted mass rapes, burned people alive and defends in its founding Charter the elimination of the Jewish State.”

The Brazilian Jewish community asked Lula for a “balanced attitude and calm actions,” claiming that “the Brazilian government has been adopting an extreme and unbalanced stance towards the tragic conflict in the Middle East, abandoning the tradition of balance and seeking dialogue in Brazilian foreign policy.”

While the Holocaust Museum in Brazil said that Lula “feeds anti-Semitism”, adding that “he has sunk to such a low point and has become involved in an extreme distortion of the Holocaust.”

“At a time when anti-Semitism has been propagated and applauded by prominent members of his political party, we hoped that the President of the Republic would understand the perversity of statements like this and alleviate this form of racism within his own country,” it said in a post on X.

“He lacks intellectual honesty,” it explained, by “using cruel selectivity to equate Israel with the greatest tormentors of the Jewish people.”

While the Holocaust Museum in Brazil attacked the president “by choosing to adopt an offensive tone against his fellow citizens, Brazilian Jews”.

Former Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, an outspoken advocate of Israel, retweeted the reply of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said Lula’s words are shameful and alarming.

Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, have now declared that Brazil’s Lula da Silva is not welcome in Israel until he takes back his comments.

“I have declared to President Lula that he is persona non grata in Israel until he apologises and reconsiders his words,” Katz said this morning. “This morning, I summoned the Brazilian ambassador to Israel to Yad Vashem [Holocaust Remembrance Centre), the place that demonstrates more than any other what the Nazis and Hitler did to the Jews, including members of my own family.”

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