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Brazilian opposition shows solidarity with Israel after president makes Hitler comparison

Israeli flags waved during a large demonstration in São Paulo, Brazil (Photo: Screenshot)

The Brazilian opposition, led by former President Jair Bolsonaro, held a large rally in support of Israel in São Paulo after the incumbent, Lula da Silva, compared Israel’s military operation against the terrorist group, Hamas with Nazi Germany and Hitler.

“What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people does not exist at any other historical moment,” Lula recently said, adding, “except when Hitler decided to kill the Jews”. 

Lula’s controversial statement caused a serious diplomatic crisis between Brazil and the Jewish nation, which is home to the majority of living Holocaust survivors.

Brazil is home to the second largest Jewish community in Latin America, after Argentina, numbering more than 100,000 people.

Local media reported that the pro-Israel rally displayed Israeli flags “in solidarity with the Jewish community in the face of the recent anti-semite attacks by Lula da Silva comparing the war on Hamas to the Holocaust”.

Bolsonaro, who is a vocal Israel supporter, stressed that the rally was a “peaceful gathering in favor of the rule of law and our freedom, families and future.”

The former Brazilian president has been compared to former U.S. President Donald Trump for fostering close relations with Israel during his tenure as president. However, in November 2022, Lula da Silva defeated Bolsonaro in an election that has continued to polarize Brazilian society.

Lula previously served time in prison due to corruption charges and is a supporter of Hamas and the Islamic regime of Iran. Brazilian Jews who predominantly support Israel and belong to the middle class are concerned about the political development in Brazil.

Israeli leaders strongly condemned the incumbent Brazilian president’s antisemitic statement.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz summoned Brazilian Ambassador Federico Mayer to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

“I brought you to the place that testifies more than anything else to what the Nazis and Hitler did to the Jews, who killed six million of our people, the Jews, including members of my family,” Katz told the Brazilian envoy.

“The comparison between Israel’s just war against Hamas, and the atrocities of Hitler and the Nazis, is a shame and disgrace and a serious antisemitic attack,” Katz added.

The Israeli foreign minister also said that Lula would be persona non grata in the Jewish state until he formally apologizes to Israel and the Jewish people.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the Brazilian president’s hostile statement.

“Comparing Israel to the Nazi Holocaust and Hitler is crossing a red line. Israel fights for its defense and securing its future until complete victory and it does so while upholding international law.”

“I decided with Foreign Minister Israel Katz to summon the Brazilian ambassador to Israel for a stern reprimand conversation immediately,” Netanyahu said.

Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan also condemned Lula’s statement as “clearly antisemitic” and said the Brazilian leader’s remarks were “an abhorrent combination of hatred and ignorance”. 

In November, the Brazilian police prevented a Hezbollah terrorist attack against local Jews with the assistance of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

“The Mossad thanks the Brazilian security services for the arrest of a terrorist cell that was operated by Hezbollah in order to carry out an attack on Israeli and Jewish targets in Brazil,” read the joint statement from the Mossad and the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Given the backdrop of the war in Gaza against the Hamas terrorist organization, Hezbollah and the Iranian regime are continuing to operate around the world in order to attack Israeli, Jewish and Western targets. The Mossad is working, and will continue to work, to thwart these efforts wherever necessary, by various methods,” the statement added.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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