Brazil's Bizarre Love of Comparing Things to the Holocaust

Frequent and outrageous use of Holocaust imagery is now part-and-parcel of Brazilian political dialogue. How did this happen, and why?

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro speaks at Planalto Government Palace on June 29, 2021 in Brasilia. Andressa Anholete/Getty Images.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro speaks at Planalto Government Palace on June 29, 2021 in Brasilia. Andressa Anholete/Getty Images.

Observation
June 30 2021
About the author

Igor Sabino, a Brazilian native, is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco, where his research focuses on religion and international relations.

In March, just as high-level Brazilian officials were arriving in Israel on a diplomatic mission, a group of left-leaning Brazilian activists wrote an open letter to the United Nations claiming that President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic had turned their country into an “open-air gas chamber.” In response, Israel’s foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi condemned the increasingly widespread use of Holocaust comparisons to talk about the pandemic. Ashkenazi’s counterpart, Ernesto Araújo—the most senior member of the delegation—joined him and denounced the letter, calling it a violation of the memory of the Holocaust and an insult to Jews around the world.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Brazil, Coronavirus, Jewish World, Politics & Current Affairs, The Jewish World