Brazilian president provokes outcry by accusing Israel of genocide

Israel has condemned Brazilian president Luiz Ináció Lula da Silva after he accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, comparing its actions to the Holocaust.

Speaking from an African Union summit in Ethiopia, Brazilian President 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.” He added, „It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children.”

While the left-wing politician condemned Hamas’s attack on Israel at first, since then, he has been a vocal critic of Israel’s retaliatory military campaign in Gaza, reports the BBC.

Lula’s comments sparked outrage in Israel and among major Jewish organisations. Israel accused him of trivialising the Holocaust, underlying that it is fighting to destroy Hamas and return hostages taken by the militant group on October 7.

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu said that Lula’s remarks amounted to „Holocaust trivialisation and an attempt to harm the Jewish people and the right of Israel to defend itself „, adding that „the comparison between Israel to the Holocaust of the Nazis and Hitler is crossing a red line.” Israel has summoned the Brazilian ambassador for a meeting.

The main Jewish organisation in Brazil has also criticised Lula’s comments. The Brazilian Israelite Confederation said Lula’s remarks were a „perverse distortion of reality” which „offend the memory of Holocaust victims and their descendants”.

Lula endorsed South Africa’s case of genocide brought against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last year. Judges at the ICJ ruled in January that South Africa’s case against Israel could proceed, instructing Israel to prevent its military from committing acts which might be considered genocidal, to prevent and punish incitement to genocide, and to enable humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.


Photo credit: World Economic Forum