Jair Bolsonaro will be inaugurated as Brazil’s new president on January 1, 2019. Bolsonaro won recent presidential elections, defeating leftist Lebanese-Brazilian opponent Fernando Haddad.
A religious nationalist situated at the extreme or far-right, Bolsonaro is a former army captain who promotes socially regressive concepts that would primarily benefit ultraconservative, white, heterosexual men. Besides his opposition to abortion, immigration, and gun control, Bolsonaro has been an advocate of the rising Christian Zionist movement in Brazil.
He has supported Nazi sympathizers and enjoyed the support of Nazi groups. Bolsonaro has insulted Islam and African religions and called Haitian, African, and Middle Eastern refugees “the scum of humanity” that should be encountered “by the army,” as Open Democracy summarized. Indeed, he admires the U.S.-backed military dictatorship that ruled over Brazilians between 1964 and 1985 and imprisoned and tortured political opponents.
Along with his racist, sexist, homophobic, and militarist populism, Bolsonaro has repeatedly outlined his passionate support for Israel. He denounced Palestinian statehood, opposed the continued presence of the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia, and insulted Palestinians as terrorists.
Rallies in favor of his victory featured the Israeli flag displayed alongside the Brazilian one.
Following the election, Bolsonaro reiterated his intention to relocate Brazil’s embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
As previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that.
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) November 1, 2018
Bolsonaro’s aggressive approach towards Palestinians has provided a basis for stronger cooperation between Israel and Brazil’s far-right. His electoral victory was instantly celebrated by numerous Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who invited Bolsonaro to visit Israel. As Haaretz reports, a senior diplomatic source said that, when its comes to Israel, “Brazil will now be colored in blue and white.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "I congratulate my friend Brazilian President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, for his intention to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem, a historic, correct and exciting step!"
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) November 1, 2018
Bolsonaro’s sons were also spotted wearing t-shirts with symbols of the Mossad and the IDF.
Photo: The sons of Brazil’s new far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, who recently pledged to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem, were seen wearing IDF and Mossad shirts. Bolsonaro said that he plans to strengthen ties between Brazil and Israel. pic.twitter.com/eUUZHd8eiR
— The IMEU (@theIMEU) November 5, 2018
Brazil’s president-elect has been explicitly promoted by the global Israeli propaganda apparatus. Israel’s hasbara app instructed its users to support Bolsonaro by posting appreciative messages regarding his views on Israel.
Israel’s propaganda app is “proud” of Jair Bolsonaro’s “brave decision” to move Brazil’s Embassy to Jerusalem. Bolsonaro is a far-right fascist who is pro-torture, praises the former military dictatorship, and is viciously racist and homophobic (among other virtues) pic.twitter.com/OP3AgVj9U9
— Behind Israel's Troll Army (@AntiBDSApp) November 2, 2018
Brazil’s future president has abandoned the moderate approach to Palestine followed by previous governments. In 2010, South America’s largest and most populous country recognized the State of Palestine within the borders of 1967. In 2016, the State of Palestine inaugurated its embassy in Brasilia, amid Israeli protests. Brazil has consistently voted in favor of Palestine in the United Nations and has supported its admission as a full member to the UN.
The current right-wing move and Bolsonaro’s emphasis on Israel would, however, further ostracize Palestinians. It is a move that is consistent with the recent surge in far-right movements in the United States and Europe, in which Zionism has been celebrated by white racists. From Austria to the Philippines, from Saudi Arabia to Germany, right-wing, regressive movements and leaders have generally embraced Israel, its production of racial hierarchies and colonial concentration of non-white bodies.
Brazil is but the latest example of the transnational significance of Zionism, and only one of numerous far-right allies of the Israeli government.