Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made headlines when he claimed that the Holocaust can be forgiven following his visit to a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem earlier this month.
During a meeting with evangelical leaders in Rio de Janeiro, President Bolsonaro mentioned that we could forgive the crimes of the Holocaust although we could not forget them. He also added that “those who forget the past are condemned to not have a future.”
The Brazilian leader was criticized for his right-wing position by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and President Reuven Rivlin of Israel. In addition, many other controversial statements from Bolsonaro drew further Israeli anger. President Rivlin disagrees with Bolsonaro’s statements in relation to the Holocaust. Rivlin made this clear indirectly when he tweeted “We will never forgive and never forget.” President Rivlin later said that neither historians nor politicians should stray into each other’s territory. According to Rivlin, politicians are responsible for shaping the future whereas historians research and describe what happened in the past.
According to the Israeli media, the memorial later said that they do not agree with the Brazilian president’s claim that the Holocaust can be forgiven.
Bolsonaro also remarked that Nazism was a leftist movement which led to even more controversy during his visit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli media reports claim that President Bolsonaro left his evangelical supporters disappointed during his visit to Israel. Moreover, it was reported that Brazil would establish a trade office in Jerusalem, hinting at a full-fledged embassy opening in the city sometime in the near future.
Nonetheless, Bolsonaro has worked to strengthen his country’s ties with Israel. He has now made clear the importance of relocating his country’s embassy to Jerusalem following President Trump’s lead. Brazilian evangelicals, who were essential to Bolsonaro’s presidential victory, agree with the embassy move as does the Israeli government.