BUENOS AIRES (Mar. 21)
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Fernando Henrique Cardozo told a visiting delegation of the American Jewish Committee that his aspiration is to be jointly honored by his country’s Jewish and Arab communities.
The AJCommittee delegates met last week with Cardozo in Brasilia, the Brazilian capital, on the first leg of a South American tour that was also to include Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.
The Jewish group reviewed with the foreign minister Brazil’s improving relationship with the Jewish state; noting, for example, an upswing in trade between the two countries.
The AJCommittee delegates remarked on a study showing a notable change for the better in Brazil’s ties with Israel. Only a few years ago, Brazil had a record of frequent votes against Israel in the United Nations. This trend appears to be changing, the AJCommittee said.
The meeting with Cardozo was considered important in light of the fact that Brazil, which has a large Arab community, was known for trading arms for oil with several Arab countries.
Cardozo reminded the delegates how he had been honored by both Brazil’s Arab and Jewish communities within a short time span and said: “My aspiration is to receive an homage from the two communities together.”
The mission, led by Lawrence Thorpe, told Cardozo that it supported the government’s initiative to sponsor a study of the first Jewish community on the South American continent, the early 16th-century community of Recife.
The AJCommittee’s 20-member fact-finding mission visited three cities in Brazil, where about 150,000 Jews live among the general population of 150 million.
In addition to meeting with Cardozo, the AJC mission met with Israeli ambassador Shlomo Bine and U.S. ambassador Richard Melton.