(April 15, 2019 / JNS) Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed criticism on Saturday for saying that the Holocaust could be forgiven.
“We can forgive, but we cannot forget. That quote is mine,” he told a group of evangelical pastors in Rio de Janiero on Thursday. “Those that forget their past are sentenced not to have a future.”
Bolsonaro made the remarks days after visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s world-renowned Holocaust memorial museum.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Yad Vashem reacted swiftly to the words of the Brazilian leader.
“Everything that Amalek has done to us is engraved in our memory—the memories of an ancient people,” he said, referring to the people in the Torah who wanted to destroy the Jewish people.
“We will never give a hand to those who deny the truth or try to cause it to be forgotten,” he said. “Not by individuals nor organizations, not by head of parties nor by heads of states. No one will enjoin the forgiveness of the Jewish people, and no interest will buy it.”
Yad Vashem spokeswoman Dana Weiler-Polak said “from the day of its founding, Yad Vashem has worked for the continuation of the memory and meaning [of the Holocaust] for the Jewish people and for mankind as a whole.”
Israeli Ambassador to Brazil Yossi Shelley attempted to clear the air.
“To the people of Israel, I wrote in the guestbook of the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem: ‘Those who forget their past are doomed to not have a future.’ Therefore, any other interpretation is only in the interest of those who want to push me away from my [J]ewish friends. Forgiveness is something personal; my speech was never meant to be used in a historical context, especially one where millions of innocent people were murdered in a cruel genocide,” Bolsonaro was quoted as writing by Shelley.
“I hope this way everything will be put in its proper place regarding a subject so important and sensitive for our people Israel,” said Shelley in a Facebook post.