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Soccer Star Neymar Accepts Netanyahu's Invitation to Israel, Sparking Rage in Brazil

'Jerusalem waits for you,' Netanyahu says in a video alongside Brazil's president Bolsonaro. Twitter users slam the soccer star as 'coming out as supporter of the radical right'

Scerengrab from the video in whcih Neymar reacts to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's invitation to visit Israel, April 2, 2019.
Scerengrab/Twitter

Two of Brazil's leading athletes, soccer star Neymar Jr. and top surfer Gabriel Medina, said they would accept Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's invitation and come to Israel, drawing ire from compatriots online.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who arrived in Israel on Sunday for a four-day visit, tweeted videos of Netanyahu inviting the two and the latter accepting. 

"Hello Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu] and Bolsonaro, thanks for inviting us, Israel, we are coming," Neymar said. 

Standing side by side, Bolsonaro and Netanyahu both invited the stars for a visit in the video, with Netanyahu saying: "Please come to Israel. You're both invited, Neymar and Medina: Bring everyone with you to Israel! Jerusalem waits for you."

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Neymar was one of the first athletes to express his support for the controversial Bolsonaro. Now he appears to be helping Netanyahu too, just a few days before the election.

Many Brazilians criticized Neymar's expression of support for Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular. 

One used tweeted: "Neymar has no idea what he is doing when he expresses a pro-Israel stance that supports a corrupt murderer like Netanyahu. Another said that "Neymar and Medina have come out as supporters of the radical right."

In an account associated with former Braziliann President Dilma Rousseff, it said: "While Bruna [Neymar's ex-girlfriend Bruna Marquezine] tours Africa and helps children affected by the tornado, Neymar receives the invitation of Bolsonaro and of a prime minister accused of corruption and whose soldiers shoot Palestinian children. Bruna lost nothing in the break-up, she set herself free!"

Bolsonaro, 64, is a particularly controversial figure in the Jewish community in Brazil. He frequently lashes out at women, the LGBTQ community and minorities. Bolsonaro often speaks nostalgically about Brazil’s former military dictatorship. In 1999 he said that it would be impossible to change anything in Brazil just by voting, and that things would change only if a civil war broke out and the army intervened. “If a few innocents die, that’s okay,” he added.