Bolsonaro says his comments on forgiving crimes of Holocaust taken out of context

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left, with Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Yad Vashemn Director of External and Governmental Affairs Yossi Gevir at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on April 2, 2019. Photo: Itzik Harari/Yad Vashem

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Brazil’s president said that his comments on forgiving the crimes of the Holocaust were taken out of context.

President Jair Bolsonaro’s clarification was published late Saturday night on the Facebook page of the Israeli ambassador to Brazil, Yossi Shelley, and were addressed to the people of Israel in Hebrew, Portuguese and English.

“I wrote in the guestbook of the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem: “Those who forget their past are doomed to not have a future” Therefore, any other interpretation is only in the interest of those who want to push me away from my Jewish friends,” Bolsonaro wrote in the post.

He continued: “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 genocide.”

He reportedly did not repudiate his remarks in any official Brazilian forum.

Bolsonaro was slammed publically by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial for saying at a meeting late last week with Evangelical pastors in Rio de Janiero that: “We can forgive, but we cannot forget. Those who forget the past are condemned to not have a future,” he said, according to the New York Times. His comments drew applause from the pastors.

Bolsonaro, an ardently pro-Israel Christian, visited Israel two weeks ago, where he had a private tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

Following his visit to Yad Vashem, Bolsonaro said that Nazism was a leftist movement.