RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) – A Brazilian columnist was slammed for writing that “the cordial coexistence here granted to the Jewish community is threatened” if Brazilian Jews express opinions about disagreements between Brazil and Israel.
Janio de Freitas, a senior editor for the influential newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, made the comments in Sunday’s edition in response to the diplomatic row between the two countries over Israel’s appointment of former settler leader Dani Dayan as ambassador to Brasilia. Brazil has not yet accepted Dayan’s credentials, though the choice of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was approved five months ago by the Cabinet.
“In international relations, there are attitudes that are against governments and attitudes that are against countries. Netanyahu adopts the latter,” de Freitas wrote.
Freitas, 83, an award-winning journalist, has been a political columnist for Folha de S. Paulo since 1983. He reportedly has a track record of making anti-Israel statements.
The Brazilian Israelite Confederation, or CONIB, the umbrella Jewish organization in Brazil, condemned the columnist.
“Mr. Freitas once again distilled his hatred against Israel, but this time he’s gone much too far,” CONIB President Fernando Lottenberg said. “The Jews, like all Brazilians, have the right to express their opinion and not be threatened for them, as the columnist insinuated in an arrogant and intimidating way, evoking openly anti-Semitic attitudes.”
Brazil is home to a 120,000-member Jewish community, the second largest in Latin America, at nearly half the size of Argentina’s. Some 500 Brazilian Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015.