The defeat of the former president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, is a worry for Israel. The leftist Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is going to sit in the seat of the president of Brazil after defeating this pro-Israeli former president. Lula is staunchly pro-Iranian and pro-Palestinian, causing worry for Israel. The relationship between Brazil and Iran and the country’s new president, the defeat of the former president with two, is like a shadow of mourning in Israel.
Jerusalem lost a friend in Brasilia this week, says Jerusalem Post analysis.
Lula made his first visit to Israel in 2010 when he was then president. The visit was the first by a Brazilian president to Israel. The visit was quite controversial for a number of reasons. One of which was Lula’s support for the Palestinians.
The year was the 150th birth anniversary of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs arranged for foreign dignitaries to visit Theodor Herzl’s grave. Then-US Vice President Joe Biden laid a wreath at Herzl’s grave a few weeks before Lula’s visit. But Brazilian President Lula refused to do so. At the time, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman refused to meet with Lula, citing a breach of protocol.
However, at that time, Lula laid a wreath at the tomb of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. Media reports at the time said Lula da Silva also wanted to meet representatives of Hamas. Because he thought it would promote peace and reconciliation. But he could not make the meeting.
Brazil later recognized the Palestinian state in 2010. A wave of such recognition then swept across South Africa. Lula has continued to support a unilateral Palestinian state, including Ramallah’s bid for UN membership. “The Palestinians deserve our full attention and solidarity,” he said at an event in June this year.
Lula’s support for Iran
Lula also maintained close ties with Iran during his presidency. He hosted the anti-Semitic and homophobic Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and visited Tehran. He also opposed sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program.
When an Iranian woman was stoned to death for adultery, Lula said, ‘I have to respect the laws of a (foreign) country. My friendship with the President of Iran and the respect I have for him is precious. But if this woman becomes harmful to Iran, we will accept her in Brazil.’
Lula’s successor was Dilma Rousseff. He was his chief of staff and their close relationship continued after he left the presidency, including appointing him to the position of chief of staff. In 2014, Rousseff recalled Brazil’s ambassador to Israel to protest Operation Protective Edge, and she rejected the choice of Dani Dayan, Israel’s ambassador to Brazil, because she lived over the Green Line. The Palestinians opened an embassy in Brasilia during his tenure.
Brazil’s Bolsonaro became president in 2019. About a third of the country’s population is evangelical Christian and vocal in its support for Israel. His wife also wore a shirt with the Israeli flag on Election Day this week.
Then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended Bolsonaro’s inauguration and they visited a synagogue together. Three months later, Bolsonaro visited Israel. Western Walle also met with Netanyahu on the way.
Bolsonaro said he would move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem. But this was no longer done in the end. If this were the case, Brazil would have a closer relationship with Israel. But at that time Bolsonara made a stupid comment. He commented that the crimes of the Holocaust can be forgiven. As a result, the Jews of Brazil and other countries became angry with him.
Bolsonaro also made anti-gay remarks, praised Brazil’s former military regime and allowed deforestation in the Amazon. Meanwhile, Lula spent a year and a half in prison on charges of corruption. But the verdict was later overturned due to judicial misconduct. He also pushed for greater government control of the media, expressed concern about limiting free speech, and expressed support for Iran.