Bolsonaro: I did not intend to use word 'forgiveness' in Holocaust context

“Forgiveness is something personal, my speech was never meant to be used in a historical context," Bolsonaro said.

April 15, 2019 04:06
2 minute read.
The new Brasilian President Jair Bolsonaro

The new Brasilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (photo credit: REUTERS/PILAR OLIVARES)


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Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro clarified his remarks in which he insinuated on Thursday that the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis can be “forgiven” but not forgotten.

On Saturday, Israel’s Ambassador to Brazil Yossi Shelly posted a response to Facebook from Bolsonaro on the matter.

“To the people of Israel, I wrote in the guest book of the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem: ‘Those who forget their past are doomed to not have a future.’ Therefore, any other interpre-tation is only in the interest of those who want to push me away from my Jewish friends,” Bol-sonaro wrote, according to Shelley.

“Forgiveness is something personal. My speech was never meant to be used in a historical context, especially one where millions of innocent people were murdered in a cruel geno-cide,” Bolsonaro added via Shelly’s post.

During a speech at a meeting with Evangelical pastors in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, Bolsonaro – who has shown strong support for Israel in a bid to reverse his country’s previously negative position – said: “We can forgive, but we cannot forget.”

“Those that forget their past are sentenced not to have a future. We need to act so that the Holocaust will not repeat itself,” the Brazilian leader said.

The remarks drew ire from both President Reuven Rivlin and Yad Vashem.

Referring to the biblical figure of Amalek who has troubled the Jews in many ways and forms throughout history, Rivlin tweeted that “everything that Amalek has done to us is engraved in our memory, the memories of an ancient people.

“We will never give a hand to those who deny the truth or try to cause it to be forgotten,” he said. “Not by individuals nor organizations, not by heads of parties nor by heads of states. No one will enjoin the forgiveness of the Jewish people, and no interest will buy it.”

He added that diplomats “have the responsibility to shape the future, and historians have the responsibility to describe the past and research history. It is forbidden for one to cross the boundaries of the other.”

In a statement, Yad Vashem said that “It is not the place of any person to determine whether or not the crimes of the Holocaust can be forgiven.

“From the day of its founding, Yad Vashem has worked for the continuation of the [Holo-caust’s] memory and meaning – for the Jewish people and for mankind as a whole.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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