Fears Grow that Lula’s Antisemitic Comments Will Inspire Terrorism in Brazil

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva delivers a speech during the launching c

The recent stream of antisemitic comments issued by radical leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the Brazilian government’s condemnations of Israel are fueling fear of possible “lone-wolf” jihadist attacks, the Argentine news agency Infobae reported Monday.

Lula and his administration have significantly damaged the relationship between Brazil and Israel by repeatedly condemning Israel’s self-defense operations against the jihadist terrorist organization Hamas. Lula accused Israel of committing “genocide” and murdering “women and children” in its self-defense operations, demanding the United Nations recognize “Palestine” as a state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Hamas is an openly genocidal terrorist organization that engaged in a massacre of civilians against Israel on October 7, killing an estimated 1,200 men, women, and children that day and keeping dozens hostage at press time.

Shortly after his initial remarks, the Brazilian president doubled down by comparing Israel’s self-defense actions following October 7 to that of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust.

“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,” Lula said during a press conference following his participation at the 37 African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.

Lula’s Holocaust comparisons earned him Hamas’s praise, whose leaders claimed that his statements were an “accurate description” of the ongoing events in Gaza, the Hamas stronghold.

Israel fiercely condemned Lula’s accusations and declared Lula persona non grata, banning him from visiting Israel until he formally apologizes and retracts his statements.

The Brazilian government has insisted that no such apology will be issued. Lula’s top foreign policy adviser Celso Amorim told local Brazilian media on Sunday that there is no reason for Lula to apologize to Israel and that it should be Israel who needs to “apologize before humanity.”

“He’ll [Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu] keep asking. If he’s insisting at all. I don’t know if he is doing this out of internal demagoguery or for some other reason, but certainly if he’s expecting it he won’t get it,” Amorim said. “I can’t speak for the president, but I don’t see anything, I don’t see any reason for the president to apologize.”

Michele Prado, a researcher at the University of São Paulo, told Infobae that Lula’s Holocaust comparisons have “empowered many extremists who have felt authorized to cross a red line that the president himself has crossed.”

“Since the events of October 7, Brazil has been experiencing an unprecedented tsunami of antisemitism in the public debate,” Prado said. “All this has an effect on radicalization against Jewish communities, but also on political polarization.”

Infobae explained that Lula’s narrative has triggered an echo effect in social media, leading to hashtags such as #LulaHasRazão (“Lula is Right”), which echo the fascist slogan “Mussolini is always right” espoused in Italy during the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.

“Here in Brazil many Hamas propaganda videos are circulating, some openly false, often disseminated along with Russian propaganda,” Prado explained to Infobae. “In addition to Hamas, we have observed an exponential growth of apologia for Hezbollah and even the Houthis and their actions. A bubble has been created, made up of some 2,000 profiles on social networks, uniting the extreme left and Islamic extremism.”

Infobae explained that the radicalization in the narrative of the Gaza conflict against Israel could “cost Brazil dearly” and give rise to possible violent actions against Jewish communities.

In November, two individuals with ties to Hezbollah were arrested in the Brazilian city of São Paulo after they were caught plotting to carry out terrorist attacks on Jewish community centers in Brazil.

Infobae noted in its report that neither Lula, Amorim, nor the nation’s Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) have issued any public comment on the meeting between Rui Costa Pimenta, a member of the Brazilian Trotskyist Workers’ Cause Party (PCO) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh this month. The PCO is one of the several Brazilian far-left parties that supported Lula during his 2022 presidential campaign.

Following his meeting with Haniyeh, Costa Pimenta told Al Jazeera that, “in Brazil, many people and political parties are asking to cut diplomatic relations with Israel because of what is happening in Gaza.”

“Many people in the president’s party are also asking us to cut diplomatic relations,” he continued.

The Brazilian far-left politician also claimed that “Israel only understands the language of force, that’s why we unconditionally support the resistance in Gaza.” Costa Pimenta also praised Hezbollah, which, according to him, “plays a crucial role in helping the Palestinians in their struggle against Zionism.”

Infobae stated in its report that a Telegram channel allegedly aligned with the PCO party is openly inciting the killing of Jews.

“May not one Jew, not one American Jew, not one Israeli be left alive in this world,” a message posted in the group reportedly read.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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