Following his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Tuesday, April 2, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil claimed that Nazism was a “leftist movement.” Bolsonaro was brought to Yad Vashem, a memorial to the six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany and fascists allies during World War II, as part of his three day state visit to Israel. The Brazilian far-right leader was asked on Tuesday if he agreed with the claim of his foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, that the Nazis “were leftists.” Bolsonaro responded in the affirmative.
It is widely accepted that Nazism was a far-right fascist movement. Yad Vashem’s website says that a range of factors, including Germany’s defeat in World War I, “created fertile soil for the growth of radical right-wing groups in Germany, spawning entities such as the Nazi Party, who battled against Jews, Communists, Socialists and union activists.”
Bolsonaro was visiting Israel just days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces general elections. Prior to the trip, the Brazilian leader went back his promise to transfer his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying that his government may instead open a “business office” in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu has appeared eager to embrace the new leader of Latin America’s largest economy, despite criticism by Bolsonaro’s opponents at home that the president is hostile to black, indigenous, Communists and LGBTQ people, as well as the environment and human rights.
Several demonstrations were held during the Bolsonaro visit to Israel. On the first day, Sunday, March 31, hundreds, among them members of Hadash and Communist Party of Israel, human rights activists, member of the Brazilian community in Israel and LGBTQ people protested near the PM’s residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem during the meeting between Bolsonaro and Netanyahu. Other protests were held at Ben Gurion Airport, near Bolsonaro’s hotel in Jerusalem and outside Yad Vashem.