Brazil's relationship with Israel at its peak amid independence day celebrations - opinion

Brazil's ambassador to Israel: Brazil and Israel might be living the best moment in their long-standing relationship of mutual support and cooperation.

A man checks his mobile phone as a woman riding a bike passes next to a big Brazilian flag in Sao Paulo, Brazil June 28, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/NACHO DOCE)
A man checks his mobile phone as a woman riding a bike passes next to a big Brazilian flag in Sao Paulo, Brazil June 28, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/NACHO DOCE)

This week, Brazilians all over the world are celebrating our 200th anniversary of independence, a paramount milestone in our history.

While doing so, we will not only remember the one day that entered history – September 7 – but also cherish the achievements along the path that led us to where we are now.

We proudly invite Israelis to join us in this celebration by attending Casa Brasil, in Tel Aviv Port, Hangar 11, an initiative, conducted jointly by the Brazilian Embassy and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (ApexBrasil), aiming at providing its visitors with a full view of Brazil’s industry, fashion, agritech, culture, games and much more, from September 4 to 9, as well as a concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra on September 8. 

September 7 marks Brazilian history and its very unique independence model, through which the Portuguese crown prince, regent at that moment, decided to sever ties with Portugal, proclaiming Brazil an independent country. The boldness of this decision still reflected in Brazilians’ traits, such as spontaneity and creativity, all on display in Casa Brasil.

After the first Independence Day, Brazilian territory and unity was consolidated under the rule of D. Pedro I, who, in 1831, abdicated and left to Portugal (where he became Pedro IV of Portugal). His young son, Emperor Pedro II, succeeded him and ruled over a long period of national unity construction, built mostly around the court in Brazil’s second capital, Rio de Janeiro.

As surprising as it may be, for almost 70 years, Brazil was the only monarchy in Latin America, which is pointed to by many as a factor that helped to avoid the fragmentation of the more than 8 million square kilometers of territory. We are proud to say that most of our borders were peacefully negotiated, thanks to the work of one of our diplomacy’s patrons, Baron of Rio Branco, supported by responsible military forces.

Another important character in the establishment of our independence was José Bonifácio, who could as well carry the title of “Brazilian founding father,” and is the founder of Brazilian diplomacy. Author of “Lembranças e Apontamentos” (Memories and Notes), which defended the separation of Brazil and Portugal into two kingdoms, among other important and forward-looking ideas, he was at the epicenter of the events in 1822, becoming foreign minister before independence and staying in the post after September 7.

He was the one to send the first Brazilian missions abroad – to London, Washington and Argentina – all instrumental to the new nation’s recognition.

Bonifácio was a philosopher, a lawyer and a scientist. Studies that led to the discovery of lithium – such an essential ingredient of our daily lives now – are attributed to him (the discovery was made by two Swedish scientists who were his students), showing the vast knowledge of this prominent Brazilian. 

Brazil's evolution - from independence to present day

Brazil has come a long way since its independence. We became a republic in 1889, and celebrated in 1922 the first 100 years of independence, marked by the Universal Exposition in Rio de Janeiro which counted three million visitors. During this remarkable event, the National Historic Museum (Museu Histórico Nacional) was created.

During the seven months of celebrations, we had other progressive events, such as the first radio transmission in Brazil. Portugal had a special participation with the first flight from Lisbon to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, when Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho flew 4,527 miles (7,285 km.) in 62 hours and 26 minutes, between March 30 and June 17. In São Paulo, the Week of Modern Art (Semana de Arte Moderna) was the pinnacle of the development of arts in Brazil at that time. 

It was also in 1922 that Georgina de Albuquerque, an important painter from the time, displayed her canvas Meeting at the State Council (Reunião do Conselho), which opened a debate about gender, since a woman is the main character portrayed in the important meeting. De Albuquerque was a close friend of Bertha Lutz, who in 1922 established the Brazilian Federation for the Advancement of Women. Thanks to the efforts of the federation, in 1932 women were allowed to vote in the country for the first time.

We kept developing for another 100 years. Brazil is now a country of 213 million inhabitants. With a $1.83 trillion GDP, it is among the 10 largest economies in the world, with diversified industry and, as a great agribusiness player, also essential for the world’s food security. 

As we celebrate our independence, we also celebrate one of Brazil’s most important traits – its diversity.

As of today, migrants have been fully integrated into Brazilian society and, together with native Brazilians and Africans, these migrants shaped and enriched Brazilian culture.

A drone view of the Christ The Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 15, 2020. (credit: FABIO MOTTA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)A drone view of the Christ The Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 15, 2020. (credit: FABIO MOTTA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

In this sense, we also must pay tribute to the Jewish migration to Brazil, which started while the country was still a colony. Today, more than 400,000 Brazilians have Jewish ancestors.

OUR HISTORY of friendship and collaboration started in the past, but as we look into the future, we continue to see endless possibilities and shared interests.

Brazil and Israel might be living the best moment in their long-standing relationship of mutual support and cooperation.

Our trade flow has increased 189% in 2022, compared to the same period in 2021.

There are Brazilian professors and students in all of the most important universities in Israel; in parallel, dozens of Brazilian universities are hosting Israeli students and professors, a significant intensification of exchange and cooperation in education.

There has been a remarkable increase of cooperation in the fields of culture, science, innovation, agritech, healthtech, defense, cyber and space. Brazil is now a member of United Nations Security Council (2022-2023) and other multilateral fora, such as UNGA, UNHRC and ICC, and has submitted the nation’s credentials to join the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Casa Brasil will be displaying more than 40 companies from different fields, cultural experiences, cooking shows portraying Brazilian unique culinary arts, creative economy and samples of some of Brazilian’s most interesting products in furniture, fashion, food and beverages, agriculture, technology, games and construction. It is an opportunity for Brazilians to highlight some of our best products, as well as an opportunity for Israelis to learn a little more about Brazil, looking into the future and the next 100 years of cooperation.

I hope you all will enjoy Casa Brasil and join us in the bicentennial celebrations! 

The writer is Brazil’s ambassador to Israel.