In the heart of Lisbon, the pulse of a march calling for the end of “genocide” and advocating for a boycott against Israel resonates through the depths of a history saturated with complexities and pain. This congregation of souls, stretching between three and four thousand according to organizers, carries not only placards and Palestinian flags but also the weight of centuries of history filled with structural anti-Semitism, contradictions, and conflicts.
The presence of political figures showing support for the Palestinian cause conjures the darkest pages of Portuguese history, stained by millennia-old anti-Semitism that forced the exodus of Jews at the end of the 15th century. This land, which once condemned my people to ostracism and ruin, today seems to open its arms in selective solidarity, where the narrative of oppression and resistance is singularly directed.
The demand by Bruno Dias of the PCP for the recognition of the Palestinian state and Mariana Mortágua of the Left Bloc’s call for a boycott against Israel echo a struggle that transcends borders and generations. However, one cannot ignore the oversimplification of the narrative, which omits the complexity and multiple facets of an ancient conflict, presenting it through a one-sided prism.
As a Brazilian Jew and Israeli, I see in this movement in Lisbon not just the manifestation of an ideal of justice but also the shadow of structural anti-Semitism that, although transmuted over the centuries, still reverberates in prejudices and attitudes disguised as activism. Maria Grazia Rossi’s appeal to cut diplomatic ties with Israel is a painful reminder that, for some, hatred against the Jewish people hides under the veil of political engagement.
Portugal’s relations with the Jews, marked by persecutions and expulsions, testify to the difficulty of reconciling painful pasts with the present. But this characteristic is not unique to Portugal; it permeates the history of humanity. The representation of the Israel-Palestine conflict is often reduced to a simplistic narrative, ignoring the complexities and stories of suffering on both sides.
The demonstration in Lisbon serves as a microcosm of global tensions, reflecting not just the specific conflict between Israel and Palestine but also our propensity to view the “other” through lenses distorted by prejudices and incomplete narratives. The cry for peace, justice, and humanity is universal, although politicizing pain often hinders its implementation.
As someone who chose Israel as home, I recognize the importance of fighting for the security and dignity of my people without ever disregarding the humanity and rights of others. The march in Lisbon, while motivated by legitimate indignation, should also inspire us to question how easily we can endorse unilateral views, forgetting that on each side of a conflict, some complex human stories and hearts beat for justice and understanding.