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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/10/19

When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are "Brothers": Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model

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From Common Dreams

Bibi's militancy, oppression of the indigenous Palestinian people, his racially-motivated targeting of Black African immigrants and his persistent violations of international law are not at all what a country like Brazil needs.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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Newly-inaugurated Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, is set to be the arch-enemy of the environment and of indigenous and disadvantaged communities in his country. He also promises to be a friend of like-minded, far-right leaders the world over.

It is, therefore, not surprising to see a special kind of friendship blossoming between Bolsonaro and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

"We need good brothers like Netanyahu," Bolsonaro said on January 1, the day of his inauguration in Brasilia.

Bolsonaro is a "great ally (and) a brother," Netanyahu replied.

But, while Bolsonaro sees in Netanyahu a role model -- for reasons that should worry many Brazilians -- the country certainly does not need "brothers" like the Israeli leader.

Netanyahu's militancy, oppression of the indigenous Palestinian people, his racially-motivated targeting of Black African immigrants and his persistent violations of international law are not at all what a country like Brazil needs to escape corruption, bring about communal harmony and usher in an era of regional integration and economic prosperity.

Netanyahu, of course, was keen on attending Bolsonaro's inauguration, which is likely to go down in Brazilian history as an infamous day, where democracy and human rights came under their most serious threat since Brazil launched its democratic transition in the early 1980s.

In recent years, Brazil has emerged as a sensible regional power that defended Palestinian human rights and championed the integration of the "State of Palestine" into the larger international community.

Frustrated by Brazil's record on Palestine and Israel, Netanyahu, a shrewd politician, saw an opportunity in the populist discourse parroted by Bolsonaro during his campaign.

The new Brazilian President wants to reverse Brazil's foreign policy on Palestine and Israel, the same way he wants to reverse all the policies of his predecessors regarding indigenous rights, the protection of the rain forest, among other pressing matters.

What is truly worrying is that, Bolsonaro, who has been likened to Donald Trump -- least because of his vow to "make Brazil great again" -- is likely to keep his promises. Indeed, only hours after his inauguration, he issued an executive order targeting land rights of indigenous peoples in Brazil, to the delight of the agricultural lobbies, which are eager to cut down much of the country's forests.

Confiscating indigenous peoples' territories, as Bolsonaro plans to do, is something that Netanyahu, his government and their predecessors have done without remorse for many years. Yes, it is clear that the claim of "brotherhood" is based on very solid ground.

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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