RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) – An influential Brazilian ex-governor and government minister compared the media treatment of ex-President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva to that of the Nazis against Jews and other minorities during the Holocaust.
“The media makes Lula the Jew of the decade, like the Nazis made Jews and communists the target of their hatred against social democracy,” Tarso Genro, former governor of Brazil’s southernmost state Rio Grande do Sul, tweeted Sunday.
Lula, a leftist, is accused being part of Brazil’s biggest political and corruption scandal. President Dilma Rousseff, his political protege, is facing an impeachment process that could put an end to the 12-year rule of their Workers Party.
Genro, also of the Workers Party, has served as governor of Rio Grande do Sul and mayor of Porto Alegre, as well as the minister of education and Justice. His late mother was born Jewish, though Genro does not recognize himself as such. Years ago, a photo of Genro putting on tefillin aided by Orthodox rabbis was widely publicized.
The ex-governor has a history of anti-Israel moves and pro-Palestinian friendliness, as well as referring to the Nazi regime to establish comparisons. In August, in another mention of Lula, Genro said security guards around a popular giant hot air puppet depicting the ex-president in a striped uniform reminded him of Nazi guards.
In 2014, his state’s largest synagogue – the Reform temple SIBRA – made a public announcement declaring Genro persona non grata for his “disdain and total lack of consideration of our community.”
Rio Grande do Sul state is home to some 12,000 Jews, making it Brazil’s third largest Jewish community after Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The state also hosts a large number of descendants of German immigrants and neo-Nazi incidents are not uncommon.