Jarbas Aragao

Religious and political leaders team up to demand Brazil change the vote on UNESCO resolutions

Brazil’s Foreign Minister, José Serra, received on early November, a group of religious leaders. Led by a congressman, the group handed a copy of a manifesto supporting Israel. They also demanded that Brazil seeks a “more balanced and impartial position” regarding it is position towards Israel. Recently, the Brazilian ambassador to UN voted with the majority in a resolution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

That was a major change, considering that in early June, when former president Dilma was ousted, the new government, led by president Michel Temer, decided to change its vote,

Jose Serra (center) meets with pastors and congressman Roberto de Lucena
Jose Serra (center) meets with pastors and congressman Roberto de Lucena

standing by Israel and calling the resolution “partial and unbalanced”. But everything changed again in October, when Brazil backed the Arab countries and voted in disfavor of Israel again. This happened because the new version of the resolution affirmed on article 36  “that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam”.

Congressman Roberto de Lucena, who is also an evangelical pastor, was not pleased. He formally requested an explanation from the foreign Minister regarding the reasons for such a change of heart.

At the same time, a group of top evangelical leaders, part of the Brazilian Apostolic Council, decided to write a manifesto and start a petition on a website, asking the Brazilians who love Israel to express its discontent with their government decision to vote against the Jewish State.

Led by Paulo de Tarso Fernandes, the pastors met with congressman Lucena. After working out the details, arranged a meeting with Brazil’s Foreign Minister, José Serra to show their support to Israel. A representative of the Brazilian Jewish community was also present.

Talking to Brazil’s biggest Christian News site, Gospel Prime, Roberto de Lucena, that belongs to Green Party, stated: “As an committed Christian and a member of Congress, I cannot  support any government that approves partial and unbalanced texts, clearly harmful to Israel”.

“We came here to affirm that ¼ of the Brazilian population are evangelical Christians and that this significant part of the population wishes to be heard on this sensitive and important subject. We recognize the effort being made by the new government, but we ask for a bigger commitment in fighting for the resolutions to evolve, reaching a fair position regarding Israel”, explained the congressman.

The congressman asked Minister Serra to also reassess Brazil’s vote in the recent resolutions that the United Nations (UN) approved condemning Israel.

Pastor Paulo de Tarso stated that “our first impulse was to confront the government, but congressman Lucena asked us consider that the Foreign Ministry is willing to fight for advances. Now we seek to work together towards a fair solution for all”. He also recalled that the motivation for the meeting is to remind the Brazilian government of the biblical promise. “Blessed are those who bless Israel and cursed those who curse Israel,” he said, paraphrasing Genesis 12:3.

Minister Serra assured that he is committed to find a solution. “We will talk about this issue again on the next deliberative session next year”. The minister assured that if there is no progress in achieving a more balanced position, Brazil can vote against this type of resolution once again. The next UNESCO Board Meeting will take place in April 2017.

Roberto de Lucena (far left) presented a manifesto defending Israel
Roberto de Lucena (far left) assured he stands by Israel

Manifesto on behalf of Christians and Jews

The copy of the manifesto handed to the Foreign Ministry is signed by different Brazilian Christian leaders, as well as members of the Jewish community. The intention is to remember  that the Christians have a indissoluble unity bond with Israel.

The text clearly states that it expects “Brazilian diplomacy to expressly defend, in a public and textual way, the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish nation, having Jerusalem as its undivided capital”. Among the issues addressed in the manifesto is Israel’s right to have free access to its sacred sites, such as the Temple Mount.

The pastors are asking Brazilian Christians to sign the online petition on the website They are also seeking support from other congressmen to strengthen their movement.  Besides Lucena, congressman Ezequiel Teixeira, who is also a pastor, was the only one to declare his support so far.

The Christian leaders hope to gather thousands of signatures until the next meeting with Minister Serra, scheduled to coincide with the Feast of Purim, on March 8, 2017. The date was chosen because it recalls the great victory the Jews had against people that challenged their right to exist.

About the Author
Jarbas Aragao is a Brazilian and US educated writer. He has worked as a translator and journalist. Also graduated in Theology, he runs Gospel Prime one of the biggest Christian News websites in Brazil. He is also a regular contributor to CBN/Mundo Cristiano.
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