António Guterres conceals the Ehal of Lisbon’s synagogue

The unimaginable happened in the Lisbon synagogue I know and which I have known since I was born, a quite lovely and imposing building erected in 1904, Shaaré Tikvah, Gates of Hope. Once, in times of affliction, it gave hope to refugees from Nazism, and has always welcomed famous personalities such as Yitzhak Rabin, Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Samuel Sirat, presidents of the Portuguese Republic and so many others.

On a giant screen placed in front of the Teba, with its back to the Ehal, we see António Guterres triumphantly speaking. Hypocrisy at its height. Impossible to remain indifferent to the man who said the unsayable about the massacres of October 7: “…the Hamas attacks did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subject to suffocating occupation for 56 years.”

The synagogue was transformed into a ballroom. 250 guests and 48 diplomatic representations, including the United States ambassador. All organized by the Jewish community of Lisbon together with the Israeli embassy in Portugal. Days before, the Israeli ambassador viewed and approved the video and the message of the UN Secretary-General who, in turn sought to turn things around and deceive the naive, classifying the October 7 attacks as abominable, calling for union in the fight against terror, honoring Aristides de Sousa Mendes and praising the Sephardic law which, curiously, his socialist party has been committed to destroying.

The honeyed words in the Shaaré Tikvah synagogue were pure demagogy. Only days earlier, the Jews in the North of Portugal had been publicly charged with being responsible for the housing crisis in Portugal and neither Guterres nor the government nor any Portuguese politician leader spoke up to condemn this unbelievable antisemitic episode. The same had happened on October 10, 2023, three days after the massacre in Israel, with graffiti spelling out “Apartheid” on Oporto synagogue.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is not available to take calls from António Guterres, because he does not want to talk; the Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, thinks he could be a good spokesperson for Hamas; and the UN Ambassador, Gilad Erdan, asked him to resign. He did not, although for much less he resigned as Prime Minister of Portugal in 2002, saying that the country was a swamp.

The UN Secretary-General is completely out of focus regarding the Jewish universe. Neither I, nor the members of the community, nor the people who attend the synagogue, nor the Jewish and Israelites of Lisbon were heard concerning the possibility of Guterres showing off at the synagogue. The problem is not the message, the problem is the messenger and his index finger stubbornly pointing at Israel, as if it needs his moral lessons.

Guteres’ speech at the Lisbon synagogue happened at a ceremony regarding International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s hard. It is hurtful. It is shocking. Everyone remembered the Jews who were murdered six million times. Our eternity was murdered. So many victims who left no descendants! The Nazi criminals threw our bodies into furnaces, gassed us to death, shot us in ditches and in forests, at home and in the streets, in the heat of the evil of hatred.

On that 7 October, we were living the Shabbat and Simchat Torah. What happened to us? We were decapitated, burnt and quartered. Babies, children, women, men, old people, terrorism turned Jews into a bloodbath. The joy of that special day collapsed like lead.

Israel is the Jew of nations. The annihilation of this small state is the first objective of the Hamas terror organization. They took pleasure in cutting up bodies. Those who survived, we who survived, mourn the murder of so many and the kidnapping of those others, taken by force to the headquarters of barbarism in Gaza, where UN officials awaited to humiliate and mistreat them as well.

As far as I know, of the almost 200 countries making up the world, Lisbon’s synagogue, where my beloved, sorely missed father, Rabbi Abraham Assor of blessed memory, was the rabbi for half a century, was the only one that opened its doors so that António Guterres could enjoy prime time in a holy place. A presence that shames history and the present.

About the Author
Miriam Assor is a journalist, member of the Jewish community of Lisbon and author of the book “Famous Jews of Portugal”.
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