The world stands with Lula and Palestine

The Brazilian President was recently banned from Israel after standing unequivocally with Palestine and against Israeli-perpetrated genocide
Lula at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he made headlines with his comments regarding the genocide in Gaza. Photo: Ricardo Stuckert

From Peoples Dispatch

“What’s happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people hasn’t happened at any other moment in history. Actually, it has happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva remarked on Sunday, February 18, taking one of the boldest stances in solidarity with Palestine of any world leader since October 7.

The fallout from this statement was Israel declaring Lula a persona non grata, and in turn, Lula ordered the return of Brazil’s ambassador to Israel. “The comparison of Brazilian President Lula between Israel’s just war against Hamas, and the actions of Hitler and the Nazis, who destroyed 6 million Jews, is a serious anti-Semitic attack that desecrates the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. We will not forgive and we will not forget—in my name and in the name of the citizens of Israel, I informed President Lula that he is an unwelcome personality in Israel until he apologizes and retracts his words,” wrote Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on February 19.

Netanyahu himself expressed that Lula had crossed a “red line,” stating that, “The words of the president of Brazil are shameful and serious. This is about trivializing the Holocaust and trying to harm the Jewish people and Israel’s right to defend itself. Comparing Israel to the Nazi Holocaust and Hitler is crossing a red line.”

Lula has also faced the ire of the pro-Israel sector in Brazil. The Brazilian Israelite Confederation (CONIB), a large Jewish Zionist organization, condemned Lula’s remarks, stating, “This perverse distortion of reality offends the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and their descendants. The Brazilian government has adopted an extreme and unbalanced stance in relation to the tragic conflict in the Middle East, abandoning Brazil’s foreign policy tradition of balance and dialogue. CONIB once again asks our leaders for moderation, so that the tragic violence in that region is not imported into our country.”

However, around the world and in Brazil, people’s movements, Jewish activists, and even heads of state have expressed their solidarity with both Lula and Palestine. The Popular Committee of Downtown São Paulo has organized a petition, signed by over 58,000 people, declaring that “Lula was right!”

“The Brazilian president’s message was direct: the State of Israel cannot usurp and disrespect the Jewish memory of suffering in the death camps in order to attack another people in a similar way,” the petition states. The most reactionary voices on the planet and in our country, accomplices of the genocide led by the Netanyahu government, are rising up against President Lula’s words. In solidarity with the leader of the Brazilian people, we sign this manifesto.”

Breno Altman, a Jewish communist journalist who himself is being investigated by authorities at the request of CONIB, said that Lula had “touched a raw nerve” of the state of Israel. “How can a State whose main source of legitimacy is the Holocaust adopt genocidal practices by the executioners of the people it claims to represent?” he wrote on X. He also denounced CONIB for defending “the genocide of the Palestinian people by Netanyahu’s army” and labeled the organization as an “enemy of the Brazilian people.”

“I express my complete solidarity to President Lula of Brazil. In Gaza there is a genocide and thousands of children, women and elderly civilians are cowardly murdered,” wrote Gustavo Petro, who recalled Colombia’s ambassador to Israel back in November. “Lula has only spoken the truth… The ruling of the International Court of Justice on Israel must generate application and consequences in the diplomatic relations of all countries in the world.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also expressed his agreement with Lula’s remarks about Israel, stating that, “Hitler was a construct, a monster created by the Western elites. Today, the criminal military apparatus of Israel has the same encouragement, funding, and support… as President Lula said, what the Israeli government is doing is the same thing that Hitler did against the Jewish people.”

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, whose nation has stood in solidarity with Palestine historically, including by training Palestinian medical students, wrote on X, “All our solidarity goes out to the dear brother [Lula[, president of Brazil, declared persona non grata in Israel for his sincere denunciation of the extermination of the Palestinian population in Gaza. We applaud and admire your bravery. You will always be on the right side of history.”

The organizations within the Brazilian chapter of ALBA Movimientos released a statement in solidarity with Lula. “Through the courage of his words, President Lula has confronted the Zionist forces head on. Contrary to what the State of Israel is trying to impose by retaliating against Lula, more leaders need to stand up and denounce the Palestinian situation,” read the statement.

The Brazilian pro-Palestine organization Jewish Voices for Liberation also expressed their solidarity with Lula, writing, “While the UN and various international organizations fail to stop the Israeli offensive, the position and courage of international leaders in denouncing the genocide of the Palestinian people is of the utmost importance. It is in this context that we reiterate our support for President Lula.”