Photo Credit: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Brazil's Ambassador to Israel Federico Mayer and Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz at the Yad Vashem Memorial Center in Jerusalem. Feb. 19, 2024

President Lula da Silva of Brazil has been declared “persona non grata” in Israel in response to his statement on Sunday during a gathering of the African Union accusing Israel of behaving like “Hitler” in its military operations in Gaza.

In response to da Silva’s remarks, Foreign Minister Israel Katz summoned Brazil’s Ambassador to Israel, Federico Mayer, for a reprimand conversation on Monday, which he held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center in Jerusalem.


During the meeting, Katz showed Mayer the list of names of Jews murdered in the Holocaust, including members of his own family, one of whom was his grandfather, Ephraim Katz.

“This morning I summoned the Brazilian ambassador to Israel near Vashem, the place that testifies more than anything else to what the Nazis and Hitler did to the Jews, including members of my family,” Katz told reporters.

“Brazilian President Lula’s comparison between Israel’s just war against Hamas and the actions of Hitler and the Nazis, who exterminated six million Jews, is a serious antisemitic attack that desecrates the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust,” Katz said.

“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 person (persona non grata) in Israel until he apologizes and retracts his words,” Katz added.

“What’s happening in Gaza with Palestinians hasn’t happened at any other moment in history. Actually it has: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” the far-left 78-year-old president of Brazil told reporters in Addis Ababa.

Following the meeting between Mayer and Katz, Brazil’s president recalled the ambassador, ordering him to leave Israel and return to Brasilia.

The Israel Defense Forces have bent over backwards to avoid inflicting harm on Gaza civilians during its war against the enclave’s Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist organization, dropping tens of thousands of leaflets and flyers, sending millions of text messages and making hundreds of thousands of robocalls to Gaza civilians, warning them of plans for combat in their areas and directing them to safe zones and humanitarian corridors to avoid the fighting.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.