RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A longtime Brazilian Jewish official became Israel’s first honorary consul in Rio de Janeiro.
Journalist Osias Wurman was named to the post, Israeli President Shimon Peres announced Wednesday. Wurman’s position covers Rio de Janeiro state, which comprises some 35,000 Jews and whose capital is the city of Rio de Janeiro.
"The role of an honorary consul includes the State of Israel’s interests in the cultural, social medicine, financial and public relations fields, among others," said Israeli Ambassador Giora Becher, adding that the nomination was approved by Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Wurman is a former president of the Rio de Janeiro Jewish Federation and former vice president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s umbrella Jewish institution.
"Our Brazilian Jewish community has long lacked a stronger dedication to advocating for Israel in the media," Wurman told JTA. "The enemies of peace use the media as a strong anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist weapon, twisting the truth and harming the image of Zionism. The reopening of the consulate in Sao Paulo and the creation of the honorary consulate in Rio will allow a bigger presence of Israel in the daily Brazilian press. We need to increase the number of those who are able to defend, with good arguments, the right of the Jewish state to exist, living in peace with its neighbors who wish so."
The new honorary consulate in Rio follows the recent announcement that Israel will reopen a consulate general in Sao Paulo next year. The embassy in Brasilia had been Israel’s only diplomatic representation in Brazil since the Sao Paulo consulate was closed in 2003 due to budget cuts. The consulate in Rio de Janeiro was shut down in 2002.