Israeli President, Yad Vashem Rebuke Bolsonaro for Saying Holocaust Crimes Can Be Forgiven

Holocaust memorial center chastises far-right Brazilian president: 'It is not in anyone's position to determine if Holocaust crimes can be forgiven' ■ Rivlin: 'We won't back those who try to erase the truth'

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends a meeting with evangelical leaders at the Hilton Barra Hotel in Rio de Janeiro on April 11, 2019.
AFP

Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, chastised Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Saturday for saying that Holocaust crimes can be forgiven.

"We disagree with the Brazilian president's statement that the Holocaust can be forgiven. 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.

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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."

Israeli Ambassador to Brazil Yossi Shelley meanwhile defended Bolsonaro's comment in a Facebook post. The ambassador wrote in Portugese that Bolsonaro had at no time in his remarks showed disrespect or indifference for Jewish suffering.

Shelley is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party and an associate of the prime minister.

The controversial Brazilian far-right leader made the comments Thursday night at a meeting with evangelical pastors in Rio de Janeiro. He was applauded by those who attended.

"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, adding that actions are needed for the Holocaust not to be repeated.

On April 2, Bolsonaro visited the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During that visit, the Brazilian leader labelled Nazism a leftist ideology, a claim rejected by historians.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.