The Kosher Cover-up: What the Israeli Embassy in Brazil Didn't Want You to See

Israel's ambassador and Brazil's far-right president dined over a soccer match, but a bad Photoshop job can't hide what they ate

Bolsonaro and Shelley share a [censored] lunch, July 8, 2019.
Bolsonaro and Shelley share a [censored] lunch, July 8, 2019.Credit: Twitter

The Israeli Embassy in Brazil posted a picture Saturday of Ambassador Yossi Shelley dining with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia.

Screen capture of the tweet from the Israeli Embassy in Brazil's official account, July 8, 2019Credit: Twitter

"Before the Copa America final between Brazil and Peru," the tweet reads, "President Bolsonaro and Ambassador Shelley ate lunch in Brasilia. They'll follow the game and wish the Brazilian team luck in search of another title. Go Brazil!"

But what did the two eat? The embassy attempted to black out their plates in the post, but the amateurish edit didn't succeed in covering up their non-kosher lobster meal.

Haaretz Weekly Episode 33Credit: Haaretz

In April, Shelley defended the Brazilian president after the latter said the crimes of the Holocaust can be forgiven but not forgotten during a speech he gave before evangelical pastors in Rio de Janeiro.

"We can forgive, but we cannot forget. That quote is mine. Those that forget their past are sentenced not to have a future," Bolsonaro said.

Israel's Holocaust memorial chastised Bolsonaro for his comments. "It is not in anyone's position to determine who and if Holocaust crimes can be forgiven," the museum and official commemoration center said in a statement.

President Reuven Rivlin also weighed in, apparently referencing Bolsonaro's comment when he wrote on Twitter: "We will never extend our hand to those who deny the truth or attempt to erase it. Not individuals or organizations, not heads of parties and not heads of states. We will never forgive and never forget. No one will order the Jewish people's forgiveness and no interest will buy it."

Speaking on Israel's army radio at the time, Shelley explained that Bolsonaro "said forgiveness is a personal thing," and argued it was "a figure of speech." According to him, the "giant" provocation around Bolsonaro's recent statement would have been justified "if only he had hinted at forgiveness," which the ambassador claimed he didn't.

"He said forgiveness is a personal matter, he said people can forgive, he personally does not," Shelley said.

In a message to "the people and government of Israel" posted on Shelley's official Facebook page, Bolsonaro is quoted as saying "any other interpretation is only in the interest of those who want to push me away from my Jewish friends."

Posting a clarification in Hebrew, Portuguese and English, Shelley argued that Bolsonaro showed no disrespect or indifference for Jewish suffering. "I hope that things will be made clear now, on such an important, sensitive issue for our people," the ambassador wrote.

He said Bolsonaro asked to share a quote he wrote in the guestbook at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, which he visited in early April alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Those who forget their past are doomed to not have a future," calling the Holocaust "a cruel genocide."

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