RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (JTA) — Some 2,500 people rallied at the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro for peace in Israel and the Middle East.
Participants of varying ages and types — Jews and non-Jews — marched along the promenade and in the street. They sang Hebrew songs, as well as the Brazilian and Israeli national anthems.
Huge signs in Portuguese and English called for peace in the Middle East and condemned anti-Semitism. The blue and white of the Israeli flag flew alongside the Brazilian flag’s green and yellow, symbolizing the Jewish community’s integration in Brazilian society. Signs, flags and T-shirts carried pro-peace slogans and a rejection of terrorism perpetrated by Hamas.
The Rio Jewish federation and several activists organized the rally’s details on a newly created Facebook group that gained thousands of supporters in less than a week.
A recent similar rally in Sao Paulo gathered some 3,000 participants.
The Rio Jewish community has some 40,000 members; Sao Paulo has 60,000.
Earlier this month, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff condemned Israel for the “massacre” in Gaza without mentioning Hamas. In response, the spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Yigal Palmor, called Brazil a “diplomatic dwarf,” spurring Brazil to recall its Tel Aviv-based ambassador.