Brazil approves Jewish studies agreement with Israel

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (JTA) — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff approved an agreement to allow students, teachers and researchers in Brazil to teach and research the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and other Jewish-related subjects.

Under the agreement, Hebrew-language and Jewish themes such as the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance will be part of curricula in some schools, universities and other educational institutions in Brazil.

As part of an inter-country exchange, Portuguese will be taught in academic circles in Israel. Several scholarships will support the exchange.

The agreement is the result of a longtime effort by Osias Wurman, Israel’s honorary consul in Rio and ex-president of the Rio de Janeiro State Jewish Federation.

"Teaching the Holocaust in Brazilian schools is key in a moment when revisionist waves grow, notably from the Iranian government, which try to wipe the memory for future generations," Wurman told JTA. "We must shed light on the past in order to clear the future."

The Brazilian-Israeli agreement was signed initially in 2008, approved by the Brazilian Congress in 2010, and eventually sanctioned by the presidency this week to aid in "developing and strengthening the friendship ties between both countries."

Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony less than one month after she started her term one year ago.

"The Holocaust is not and will never be just a historic moment. The duty of the memory should not be mistaken for passiveness of the ordinary remembrance," she said at the time.

"Memory is the human weapon to prevent the repetition of the barbarism. We must not allow any kind of human rights violation in any country, and especially in Brazil. The Jewish tradition and dignity integrate the Brazilian nationality in a special way."

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