update deskAntisemitism

Brazilian lawmaker: Lula remarks desecrate Holocaust victims’ memory

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's remarks inflamed antisemitism and fueled intolerance, said Geovania De Sa in Jerusalem.

Brazilian parliamentarian Geovania de Sa with the Latin American Director at the Israel Allies Foundation Leopoldo Martinez at the organization’s annual conference in Jerusalem. Credit : Israel Allies Foundation.
Brazilian parliamentarian Geovania de Sa with the Latin American Director at the Israel Allies Foundation Leopoldo Martinez at the organization’s annual conference in Jerusalem. Credit : Israel Allies Foundation.

A Brazilian parliamentarian said on Monday that recent statements by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva comparing Israel’s war against Hamas to the Holocaust were a desecration of the memory of victims which served to inflame anti-Semitism and fuel hatred and intolerance.

The unequivocal condemnation and emotional public apology offered by Geovania De Sa during a visit to Jerusalem come on the heels of a poll indicating that 83% of Brazilians disagreed with Lula’s comparison between Israel’s offensive against the Islamist terror group and the Holocaust.

“I find myself compelled to express deep regrets on behalf of the Brazilian people for the recent statements by President Lula,” said De Sa, a Federal Deputy in the Brazilian parliament, in an address at the Israel Allies Foundation conference in Jerusalem. “His comparison was not only insensitive but also a desecration of the memory of millions of innocent victims.”

The three-term lawmaker added that the president’s remarks—which were widely reported and seized upon by anti-Israel activists—not only dishonored the memory of the victims but inflamed antisemitism and fueled both intolerance and hatred for which she expressed contrition to the Jewish people.

Persona non grata

“What’s happening in the Gaza Strip isn’t a war, it’s a genocide,” Lula told reporters at an African Union conference in Ethiopia last month.

“What’s happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people hasn’t happened at any other moment in history. Actually, it has happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” added the far-left president.

The Brazilian leader was subsequently declared persona non grata in Israel.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz Katz, the son of Holocaust survivors, told Brazil’s Ambassador Federico Mayer during a hastily arranged tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem last month that Israel “will not forget and we will not forgive” until the president expresses contrition for his words, something he has refused to do.

Latin American support

The full-blown crisis in Israeli bilateral relations with Brazil and subsequently Colombia comes at a time when ties with Argentina and Paraguay are blossoming, with the leaders of the latter two countries even pledging to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

“Despite recent negative public pronouncements by leaders in certain South American countries, we see growing support for Israel among other leaders in Latin America and their peoples, which is no less consequential and likely more critical for the long-term,” said Leopoldo Martinez, Latin American director of the Israel Allies Foundation.

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