Brazil’s president says Nazis were leftists following his visit to Yad Vashem

Brazilain 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. (Itzik Harari/Yad Vashem)

Josefin Dolsten

(JTA) — President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil said that Nazism was a leftist movement following hisvisit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

The far-right leader was asked on Tuesday during his visit to Israel if he agreed with the claim by his foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, that Nazis were leftists.

“There is no doubt, right?” Bolsonaro replied, according to Reuters.

It is widely accepted that Nazism was a far-right movement. Yad Vashem’s website says that a range of factors, including Germany’s defeat in World War I, “created fertile soil for the growth of radical right-wing groups in Germany, spawning entities such as the Nazi Party.”

Bolsonaro was visiting Israel just days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is up for re-election. Prior to the trip, the Brazilian leader walked back his promise to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, saying that his government may instead open a “business office” in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has appeared eager to embrace the new leader of Latin America’s largest economy, despite criticism by Bolsonaro’s opponents at home that the president is hostile to black, indigenous and LGBTQ people, as well as the environment and human rights.