SAO PAULO (May. 17)
Brazilian Jewish leaders are criticizing a recent summit of South American and Arab countries for not sticking to economic and cultural issues and instead taking a stance on terrorism that seems to justify attacks against Israelis. Leaders from 12 South American and 33 Arab nations ended their May 10-11 summit — meant to promote economic, cultural, scientific and political cooperation — by signing a declaration that urged Israel to abandon what they called Palestinian territory.
While the “Declaration of Brasilia” rejected terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations,” it asserted the right “to resist foreign occupation in accordance with the principles of international legality and in compliance with international humanitarian law.”
Jewish groups condemned the clause, considered a reference to the actions of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The Israeli Confederation of Brazil, an umbrella organization for 13 regional Jewish federations, issued a “No To Terror” manifesto in response to the summit declaration.
The manifesto criticized the summit for “disrespecting Brazil,” for not sticking to its economic/cultural agenda, for seeking to differentiate between “good and bad terrorism” and for approving of “armed movements aimed at harming civilians.”
Osias Wurman, a confederation vice president, told JTA that “Brazilian government authorities assured Jewish leaders that this summit would not be political, and instead they imported the conflict between Israel and Palestine to Brazil. Furthermore, the summit only considered that conflict from the point of view of the Palestinians, not the Israelis.”
The summit also denounced U.S. economic sanctions against Syria.
Wurman added that the Declaration of Brasilia made no mention of the need to transform Middle Eastern countries into democracies, even though such a reference had been contemplated at preparatory meetings.
Wurman added that Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva also “used the summit to build Arab-country support for Brazil’s bid to get the votes needed to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.”
Lula raised the idea of hosting the summit during a visit to North Africa and the Middle East in December 2003. The United States tried to participate as an observer to the summit, but the request was rejected at a preparatory meeting in Marrakesh.