Brazil hits back at Israeli foreign minister who criticized Lula

The Brazilian foreign minister said Lula’s speech is being distorted

Published on 21/02/2024 - 11:05 By Agência Brasil* - Brasília

Brazil’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira criticized his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz for statements made in recent days about Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Vieira described the way Katz referred to Lula as “unusual and revolting.”

“For someone in the position of a foreign minister to address the head of state of a friendly country—President Lula—in this way is unusual and revolting. For a foreign ministry to systematically resort to distorting statements and telling lies is both offensive and serious. It’s a shameful page in the history of Israel’s diplomacy, using foul and irresponsible language,” the minister said Tuesday (Feb. 20) as he left Marina da Glória in Rio de Janeiro. The venue will host the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting Wednesday (21) and Thursday (22).

Earlier on Tuesday, in an X post originally written in Portuguese, Minister Katz said that “millions of Jews around the world are waiting for your apology,” criticizing President Lula for “daring” to compare Israel to Adolf Hitler.

“It’s not too late to learn history and apologize. Until then, you will remain persona non grata in Israel!” the Israeli minister wrote, adding that the Brazilian president’s statement was “promiscuous, delusional” and a “shame for Brazil and a spit in the face of Brazilian Jews.”

Subsequently, the official Israeli government profile also attacked the Brazilian president, accusing President Lula of denying the Holocaust, which never happened.

In response, Minister Vieira also said the Israeli government is trying to create a smokescreen to cover up the problem of the ongoing massacre in Gaza, where 30 thousand Palestinian civilians have died.

“[The massacre] has led to the growing international isolation of the Netanyahu government, a fact reflected in the ongoing deliberations at the International Court of Justice. This is the isolation the Israeli foreign minister is trying to conceal. We won’t play this game. And we will not stop fighting for the protection of innocent lives at risk.”

Lula’s statements

At a press conference during his official trip to Ethiopia, the Brazilian president classified the civilian deaths in Gaza as genocide, criticized developed countries for reducing or cutting humanitarian aid to the region and said “what is happening in the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian people has never occurred in history. I mean, it did occur, when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

“It’s not a war between soldiers and soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children,” he added.

*Rádio Nacional reporter Fabiana Sampaio contributed to this article.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Marcelo Brandão

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