Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust museum attacked Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil Saturday after saying that war crimes committed during the Holocaust “can be forgiven, but not forgotten.”
By: David Twidelsky
“We can forgive, but we cannot forget,” Mr. Bolsonaro, the new Brazilian president who has thus far been a strong supporter of Israel said Thursday at a meeting with Evangelical pastors in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s capital. “Those that forget their past are sentenced not to have a future. We need to act so that the Holocaust will not repeat itself.”
Mr. Rivlin, the Israel president, referenced the Torah in saying that those who tortured the people of Israel must never forget, writing on Twitter that “Everything that Amalek has done to us is engraved in our memory, the memory of an ancient people.”
“We will never give a hand to those who deny the truth or try to cause it to be forgotten,” Mr. Rivlin said. “Not by individuals nor organizations, not by head of parties nor by heads of states. No one will enjoin the forgiveness of the Jewish people, and no interest will buy it.”
Mr. Rivlin stressed that the Jewish people will always fight racism and antisemitism.
“Diplomats have the responsibility to shape the future, and historians have the responsibility to describe the past and research history. It is forbidden for one to cross the boundaries of the other,” he added.
Dana Weiler-Polak, who is the spokeswoman for Yad Vashem said that no one can determine “if it is possible to forgive the crimes of the Holocaust.”
“From the day of its founding, Yad Vashem has worked for the continuation of the memory and meaning [of the Holocaust] for the Jewish people and for mankind as a whole,” she said.
Mr. Bolsonaro caused controversy earlier this month when he said “there is no doubt” that Nazism was a left-wing ideology.
He was asked by reporters in Israel if he agreed with Brazilian foreign minister Ernesto Araujo, who said that Nazis were “leftists.” “There is no doubt, right?” Mr. Bolsonaro responded.
Ms. Shelly said that Mr. Bolsonaro’s remarks were made during an “emotional” speech with “his fellow evangelicals.”
“His words made clear his complete repudiation of the greatest genocide in history, which was the Holocaust,” Yossi Shelly, the Israeli ambassador to Brazil, said in a statement, defending Mr. Bolsonaro. “At no point in his speech did the president show disrespect or indifference to Jewish suffering.”
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