Brazil’s President Sparks Controversy with Holocaust Comparison Amid Gaza Conflict

Last Updated on March 7, 2024 6:41 am

In a statement that has triggered strong reactions, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva likened Israel’s military action in Gaza to the Holocaust during World War Two, causing outrage from Israeli officials. Speaking at the 37th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Lula said, “What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments. In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the remarks, calling them “disgraceful and grave.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry announced plans to summon the Brazilian ambassador for a reprimand, expressing concern over the perceived trivialization of the Holocaust and an attack on Israel’s right to self-defense.

Lula’s comments also drew criticism from the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, describing them as a “perverse distortion of reality” that offends the memory of Holocaust victims and their descendants. The organization accused Lula’s government of maintaining an “extreme and unbalanced” stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Brazilian presidential palace and the foreign ministry have not yet responded to requests for comment on the matter. In addition to the Holocaust comparison, Lula condemned the suspension of humanitarian aid to the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), urging an investigation into errors without cutting off funding for those affected by what he referred to as a “genocide.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is currently facing financial strain following Israel’s claim that 12 out of its 13,000 staff members in Gaza were implicated in a recent attack by Hamas on Israel, which occurred on October 7.

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