Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the international spotlight for anti-Semitic comments

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the international spotlight for anti-Semitic comments
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the international spotlight for anti-Semitic comments

In a public speech delivered on February 19, 2024, on an official visit to Ethiopia, Lula da Silva compared the Israeli response to Hamas attacks to “Nazi persecution of the Jews.” Verbatim, the Brazilian president mentioned: “What Israel is doing in Gaza is a new version of the Holocaust, with the Israelis acting like Nazis and the Palestinians like Jews.”

global condemnation

The reactions in the world were immediate, repudiating such a comparison. The first to condemn such a statement was the government of Israel, which described Lula da Silva’s statements as “outrageous, inexcusable and unacceptable”, demanding an immediate public retraction and a formal apology. .

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Lula’s comments “trivialize the Holocaust” and “cross a red line.” He also accused Lula of being a “virulent anti-Semite.”

For his part, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz declared that “we will not forget nor forgive. This is a serious anti-Semitic attack. In my name and on behalf of the citizens of Israel, inform President Lula that he is persona non grata.” in Israel until he retracts his scandalous statement.

The World Jewish Congress expressed its “deep disgust” at the Brazilian president’s words, demanding a public apology and a commitment to combat anti-Semitism.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an international non-profit organization founded in 1913, with the mission of combating anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance and discrimination, condemned the statements of the president of Brazil. The Anti-Defamation League affirms that positions like this are “a clear example of anti-Semitism”, and denounced the trivialization of the Holocaust and the incitement of hatred against the Jewish community.

Dani Dayan, president of Yad Vashem, the most important Holocaust memorial, described what Lula said as “extremely disappointing” and accused him of “spreading anti-Semitic sentiments.”

Numerous political and religious leaders and human rights defense organizations also expressed their condemnation of the Brazilian president’s statements, including the European Union, the United States, the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation ( OCI).

Diplomatic tensions

The statements of the Brazilian head of state strained diplomatic relations between Brazil and Israel, with the possibility of a negative impact on bilateral cooperation in various sectors.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz summoned the Brazilian ambassador to the country, Frederico Meyer, after Lula da Silva accused Israel of emulating Adolf Hitler by committing “genocide” in Gaza.

“In my name and on behalf of the citizens of Israel, tell President Lula that he is persona non grata in Israel until he retracts what he said.”

In the presidential circle of Brazil, according to the newspaper Folha There are different opinions about the speech that ignited the fury of Tel Aviv. Some consider it a simple slip by the president, while others see it as a deliberate strategy to put the international focus on the critical situation in the Gaza Strip.

While Lula’s defenders maintain that at no time did the president intend to trivialize the Holocaust, but simply categorized the tragedy in Gaza as a genocidal act. They argue that, although the speech generated controversy, it conforms to the official position of the Brazilian government, demonstrated by its support for South Africa’s initiative before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to investigate the case as a possible genocide.

Lula’s conservative opponents rejected the comments that outraged many in the powerful, fervently pro-Israel evangelical community. “Lula not only showed his ignorance of history, but he showed everyone the hatred in his heart against the State of Israel,” Eduardo Bolsonaro, legislator and son of former president Jair Bolsonaro, wrote on the social network X, formerly Twitter. .

Lula condemned Hamas attack

When the attack against Israel occurred on October 7, 2023, the Brazilian president expressed his rejection of the “terrorist attacks” and called on the international community to intervene to achieve peace between the parties.

He was shocked by the attacks by Palestinian militias in Gaza, led by the Islamist movement Hamas, and advocated the existence of an economically viable Palestinian State, which coexists peacefully with Israel within secure borders for both parties and by mutual agreement, with the recognition international, which allows ending the conflict and achieving peace in that region.

On the other hand, Lula also took advantage of the Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) to condemn the suspension of humanitarian aid to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), and request an investigation of the mistakes without eliminating funding to help those affected.

The links between members of the UNRWA organization and the terrorist group Hamas have been reported and proven.

The worst massacre against civilians

The war between Hamas and Israel was sparked by an attack on October 7, 2023, by Hamas militants, who stormed southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 hostage.

According to information from international news agencies, the militants are still holding around 130 hostages, of whom a quarter are believed to have died. Most of the remainder were freed during a ceasefire in November.

Following the October 7 attack, Israeli authorities claimed that the Hamas incursion led to one of the country’s worst civilian massacres.

Hamas is the largest among the various Palestinian Islamist groups and its name is an Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement.

Its origin dates back to the early days of the 1987 Palestinian Intifada against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Their militias are called Al Qassam Brigades, their central objectives include the creation of a Palestinian state, however, their war actions are based on the ideal of making the Israeli state disappear.

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FOUNTAIN: Fhola De SanPaulo, ADL en Español, Faro De Vigo, El Periódico, Voz de América,, BBC, ABC, AP, AFP.

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