Brazil’s National Congress held on Thursday, May 17th, a special session in homage to the 70th year of Israel. Many political and religious authorities – including rabbis – were present, the event showed the desire of all for a closer relation between the two countries.
The initiative of the Evangelical Parliamentary Front, a faith-based congressional caucus, gathered about two dozen politicians, including Jair Bolsonaro, that is running for president and leading in most polls. The congressman is a strong supporter of Israel.
The Christian politicians present in the session assured that they are urging the government of Brazil to follow countries like the USA, Guatemala and Paraguay and move its embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israel as the legitimate capital of Israel.
During the opening, jewish singer Várda Usíglio sang the national anthem of the State of Israel and israeli flags were displayed.
In his speech, the Israeli ambassador, Yossi Shelley, remembered the decisive role of Brazilian chancellor Osvaldo Aranha during the ONU session that allowed Israel to be reborn in the land of its antecessors.
Shelley pointed out that there is a series of collaborative programs of Israel with different Brazilian states, regarding security, agriculture and water management. He also lamented the way the press often portrays Israel as “a monster that kills people” and does not show the constant threats it receives from countries that want the annihilation of the Jewish state.
A self-proclaimed Zionist, congressman Hidekazu Takyama – president of the Evangelical Parliamentary Front – mentioned the Bible teaches all Christians to love Israel. As a pastor, he understands that “there’s an undeniable spiritual bond connecting us to Israel”.
Takayama also stated that everyone should supports Israel’s right to defend itself against any aggressor. “No one is happy regarding deaths and war. What we have witnessed along the Gaza Strip border is regrettable. But it is undeniable that the Israeli army has the right to defend the borders. Those who want peace, lay down their arms but that is not what we are witnessing week after week”.
Rubens Goldenberg, a representative of The Brazil-Israel Zionist Association (ASBI), stated that “for all of us, Brazilian Jews, it is great to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary at the Congress and remember the historical struggle of the Hebrew people to survive and return to their State”. He understands that today’s session “strengthens the bonds of friendship that unite the two countries and shows the importance Jews and Christians working together for a common goal”.
On behalf of the Apostolic Council of Brazil – that gathers various evangelical churches – pastor Paulo de Tarso Fernandes said he was “happy to see several members of the Evangelical Front, along with leaders of different Christian and Jewish segments publicly defending the recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and the he move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem”. He emphasized that this idea is gaining traction and the Christian leaders expect president Michel Temer to answer their request soon.