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Israel slams Brazilian president for Holocaust comparison – ‘Crossed a red line’

Brazil’s ambassador summoned for reprimand after President Lula’s comment

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva addresses the opening of the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union at the African Union Headquarters, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Feb. 17, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo)

Israeli leaders slammed comparisons of Israel’s war effort to the Holocaust and accusations of genocide made by Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula) on Sunday during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“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,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated.

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

Katz concurred, calling Lula’s comments to reporters as “shameful and serious.”

“What’s happening in the Gaza Strip isn’t a war, it’s a genocide. It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army, and women and children,” Brazil’s far-left leader told them.

A 76-year-old left-wing radical who was encouraged to enter politics by Fidel Castro and founded Brazil’s first socialist political party, Lula served as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2011 but was later convicted on charges of corruption and money laundering.

He ousted the pro-Israeli incumbent Jair Bolsonaro to return to office in 2023.

Lula added that “what is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people hasn’t happened at any other moment in history” except one: “When Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

“Accusing Israel of perpetrating a Holocaust is outrageous and abhorrent. Brazil has stood with Israel for years,” Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant countered.

“President Lula supports a genocidal terrorist organization - Hamas, and in doing so brings great shame to his people, and violates the values of the free world,” he added.

The chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center, Dani Dayan, called Lula’s comments “an abhorrent combination of hatred and ignorance.”

His words were considered antisemitic according to the working definition of antisemitism designated by the IHRA, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Brazil is an observer of the alliance and aims to become a member of the organization, Dayan stressed, adding: “It is sad that the President of Brazil has descended to such a low point and engaged in extreme Holocaust distortion.”

“The president of Brazil made a disgraceful statement that shows ignorance and anti-Semitism. The State of Israel is heartbroken and shocked by the massacre of its citizens, 134 are still kidnapped in the tunnels in Gaza. I wonder what Lola would have said if a terrorist organization had harmed Brazil like that. Shame,” opposition leader Yair Lapid commented on 𝕏.

Lula has been a vocal critic of Israel and its conduct during the war against Hamas. In one of his first acts as Brazil’s newly-elected president, he removed his country’s ambassador to Israel from his post and withdrew its U.S.-facing ambassador from Washington, both of whom were appointed by his predecessor.

Lula has also criticized many Western nations for their recent decision to suspend aid to the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) and vowed to increase Brazil's aid to the disgraced institution.

“When I see the rich world announce that it’s halting its contributions to humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, I just imagine how big these people’s political awareness is and how big the spirit of solidarity in their hearts is,” Lula said during a meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on the sidelines of the African Summit.

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

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