200 Brazilian academics sign on to anti-Israel boycott
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200 Brazilian academics sign on to anti-Israel boycott

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A group of 200 Brazilian university professors and researchers have signed an online letter supporting an academic boycott of Israel.

Most of the signers serve at Brazilian government-run public universities, including the country’s most prestigious Unicamp, USP and UFRJ. Among the more prominent signers is longtime Brazilian diplomat and former United Nations rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.

“The professors and researchers who sign below, reaffirming their commitment to social justice and against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, declare their support for the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel in the terms proposed by the BDS movement,” the letter reads.

Two weeks ago, Pinheiro slammed Brazilian congressman Jean Wyllys for visiting Israel.

“It’s insolent that a human rights activist pays a visit to Israel nowadays,” Pinheiro said after Wyllys, a human rights defender and Brazil’s only openly gay congressman, declared he objected to BDS despite his leftist platform.

Earlier this month, a group of 40 retired Brazilian diplomats signed a petition against the appointment of former settler leader Dani Dayan as Israel’s ambassador to Brasilia, complaining that the Jewish state had bypassed protocol because there was no prior communication with the Brazilian Foreign Ministry or any presentation of his credentials for an agreement. In opposition, a pro-Dayan petition gathered nearly 4,000 signatures.

After a six-month diplomatic row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said if Brazil does not approve Dayan as its ambassador, Israel won’t offer another diplomat, and there will be a “de facto downgrade in relations” between the two countries.

In a recent television interview aired in Brazil and Israel, President Dilma Rousseff’s diplomatic adviser Marco Aurelio Garcia, speaking about the Dayan controversy, noted Brazil’s stance “against the occupation of Palestinian territories.”