Both left and right Brazilian presidential candidates are anti-Israel

Forward (www.forward.com) has an article that describes how all candidates in next week's elections in Brazil are anti-Israeli:

The running mate of the frontrunner in Brazil's upcoming presidential election has a novel solution to the Middle East crisis: "The State of Israel," said José de Alencar, "should move somewhere else."

His rival for the vice presidency has her own opinions. "I am attracted to important subjects," Brazilian Social Democrat Rita Camata told a magazine, "like the contentious relationship between rich and poor countries, the new economic world order, the criminal way Israel behaves toward Palestinians, and Brazil's participation in the globalized economy."

I am Braziliam and I love Brazilian food, music and the friendliness of her citizens, but as a Jew, I am certainly happy I left it a long time ago.

I copy the full article below.





A Right, a Left: Israel Takes Beating in Brazil Vote
By NOGA TARNOPOLSKY, FORWARD CORRESPONDENT
http://www.forward.com/
issues/2002/02.09.27/news4.html

JERUSALEM — The running mate of the frontrunner in Brazil's upcoming presidential election has a novel solution to the Middle East crisis: "The State of Israel," said José de Alencar, "should move somewhere else."

His rival for the vice presidency has her own opinions. "I am attracted to important subjects," Brazilian Social Democrat Rita Camata told a magazine, "like the contentious relationship between rich and poor countries, the new economic world order, the criminal way Israel behaves toward Palestinians, and Brazil's participation in the globalized economy."

Not that Israel has been a major campaign issue in Brazil, a tropical colossus of 170 million with problems of its own. But with Brazilians set to choose a new president October 6, the election has become, in the words of Alberto Milkewitz, executive director of Sao Paolo's Jewish federation, "a moment in which criticizing Israel means you're siding with the good guys."

But compared to the United States, where the merest hint of anti-Israel sentiment by a major candidate would spark howls of official and unofficial protest, Brazilian Jews have fielded the candidates' remarks with relative equanimity.

For Brazil's Jews, who number about 130,000, Israel has lately been a topic of some ambivalence. A source in Israel's Foreign Ministry told the Forward that during last spring's Operation Defensive Shield, Israel's consular offices in Brazil received calls from local Jews "who called to say they were ashamed to be Jews."

"No one supports the position of Israel," said Yoel Schwartz, a Jewish Agency emissary stationed in Brazil. "Everything is seen here through the prism of relations with the United States, and Israel is seen as an American satellite."

"We think it's just a period of election grandstanding," Milkewitz said, referring to the candidates' remarks. "The ruling party in fact has excellent relations with our community. The Workers' Party's position has in general been more 'negative,' but I say it that way because we in the community also feel that there should be a Palestinian state, when and if Israel has its own space and security, of course."

Leading the leftist Workers' Party is Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, popularly known as "Lula" and the man considered most likely to win the election. Alencar, his strange-bedfellows running mate from the center-right Liberal Party, made his case for Middle East peace last July in an interview on a popular news channel. "There is only one exit," he told journalist Boris Casoy. "Israel must buy territory somewhere else. Otherwise there will be an everlasting problem in that area. The United States could help." Alencar later tried to explain away the comment, which caused ire among local Jews, in a much-derided letter to Rabbi Henry Sobel of Sao Paolo's Congregacao Israelita Paulista.

Camata, vice presidential candidate for José Serra of the governing Brazilian Social Democratic Party, made her remarks a few weeks later in the magazine Vida Vitória.

Given a choice, however, the Israeli Foreign Ministry source told the Forward, "Lula is the less comfortable candidate for us, given that the Workers' Party line is not only more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israeli but is often on the front-lines of anti-Israel statements. What their vice presidential candidate said didn't come out of the blue."

Milkewitz said da Silva's positions on Israel are less one-sided than those of his party. "Lula told us personally that when he visited Israel a few years ago he saw a democracy in which workers were respected as they are in few other countries, and in which their participation is much like what the Worker's Party would like to see here in Brazil," he said.

Latest polls show that da Silva, in his fourth attempt at the presidency, is poised to win a decisive victory over Serra. A survey issued last Sunday by the Datafolha polling institute showed Lula leading with 44% of the country's electorate compared to 19% for Serra. To win the election outright, the top candidate needs to get more than half of the votes in the October 6 election.

But despite his best efforts to moderate his reputation as a loose canon with Castro-like tendencies — da Silva has repeatedly promised in recent weeks to maintain free-market reforms and to repay the nation's $260 million foreign debt — Brazil's economy has reacted nervously to his projected victory. The real, Brazil's currency, has lost almost 32% of its value since January.

Still, reactions are muted compared to the panic felt in 1989, when rumors had it the nation's 800 top industrialists would flee the country if da Silva won. And an increasing number of prominent Jewish industrialists are publicly extending their support. "They'd love Serra to win," Schwartz said, "but it is just not happening. And they're not afraid of Lula any more. Everyone talks about the 'economic consensus' he represents."

This week, a group of industrialists led by former Israeli Oded Grajew issued a "manifesto" in support of da Silva. "We agree with a change in national priorities, with production, distribution of wealth, education and health and the top," Grajew said at a gathering in Sao Paolo, where 40% of the population lives in slums. "Our vision is of an economically developing nation with the priorities the Workers' Party proposes."

Posted by David Melle
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