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FM Katz strongly reprimands Brazilian ambassador at Yad Vashem following 'clearly antisemitic' remarks by Brazil's president

Katz referred to Holocaust victims in his own family during rebuke at memorial

Brazilian Ambasdor to Israel Frederico Meyer and Foreign Minister Israel Katz tour Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Feb. 19, 2024. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Israel Katz summoned the Brazilian ambassador to Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center for a reprimand, following remarks by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva comparing Israel's war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza to the Holocaust. 

During his comments at the Africa Union Summit on Sunday, the Brazilian president compared Israel’s conduct in the war to that of Nazi Germany. 

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

On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had instructed Katz to summon the Brazilian ambassador over the remarks. 

On Monday morning, Katz summoned Brazilian Ambassador Federico Mayer to Yad Vashem for the reprimand and Mayer made his appearance.

Ambassadors are usually summoned to the Office of the Foreign Ministry when reprimanded. However, due to the nature of Lula’s comments, Katz decided to summon the Brazilian politician to the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

Katz noted that members of his own family perished in the Holocaust.

“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 Mayer, explaining the choice of the location. 

“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 anti-Semitic attack,” Katz continued. 

Katz also showed Mayer the “Book of Names” memorial, which displays the names of 4.8 million Jews killed during the Holocaust. The list is not complete, as many names have not yet been confirmed. Yad Vahsem says that several hundred thousand more names still need to be added. 

The “Book of Names” memorial is massive (over 20 feet thick) and is made up of pages over 3 feet wide and almost 4 feet tall.

While presenting the “Book of Names” memorial to the ambassador, Katz also showed Mayer the names of his grandfather, Israel Katz, and grandmother Shaprinza Katz, and presented documentation related to their memorial. 

Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan called Lula’s words “clearly antisemitic,” saying they were “an abhorrent combination of hatred and ignorance.” 

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

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