Brazil’s Leader: Holocaust Must Never Be Denied
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva joined Jewish leaders to mark the 62nd anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camps, saying the Holocaust must never be denied and urging the world to prevent it from ever happening again. “In the 21st century we cannot accept the denial of the Holocaust as a historical fact…nor can we accept those who deny that six million Jews were massacred,” Silva told some 500 people at the Sao Paulo Jewish Congregation’s synagogue on Friday.
“Each time we pay homage to the victims of the Holocaust, we strengthen those forces that will prevent that same horror from repeating itself,” he said after praising the United Nation’s General Assembly for last week’s approval of a resolution condemning the denial of the Holocaust. Silva’s remarks came at a ceremony held to commemorate the January 27, 1945 liberation and to mark the second International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
He did not specifically mention Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the congregation’s chief rabbi, Henry Sobel, said the Brazilian president’s presence at Friday’s event represented a repudiation of Ahmadinejad’s insistence that the Holocaust was a myth. Sobel also said he was concerned by what he called growing anti-Semitism in Venezuela. “President Hugo Chavez’s rhetoric is anti-Semitic and he is a close ally of the president of Iran, and both of them share a profound hatred of Israel,” Sobel said.
Chavez has cultivated friendly ties with Ahmadinejad and last year called Israeli attacks in Lebanon during a conflict with Hezbollah militants a new Holocaust. He has made other remarks criticized by some Jewish groups as anti-Semitic, though he said his comments were misinterpreted.
At about 130,000 strong, Brazil’s Jewish community is the second-largest in South America after Argentina, which is home to an estimated 200,000 Jews.