Brazilian restaurant apologizes for anti-Israel signs


RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Brazilian Arab food restaurant apologized for placing anti-Israel signs at its entrance following a massive Jewish-led boycott campaign on social media.

One of the owners of Papaya Verde restaurant in Recife sent a note to the Pernambuco Jewish federation stressing that the big and colorful “Free Palestine! it’s not war, it’s genocide” and “Boycott Israel!” stickers on its front window had been removed, the Folha de Pernambuco newspaper reported Tuesday.

“My sincere apologies to all who were offended,” the note from restaurateur Antônio Siqueira Campos read. “The power of written words does not convey my true feeling, which is to always work for the culture of peace among the peoples who have a great example in Brazil. I never intended to spread hatred or any other negative sentiment towards the Jewish community.”

The message from Campos was “peaceful and purposeful,” the Jewish federation’s president, Sonia Sette, told JTA.

“We’re perplexed, the material exhibited is extremely offensive towards the State of Israel. The images provoked outrage to the members of our community and beyond. We consider it fundamental that the serious issues involving Israel and Palestinians be treated with responsibility, respect and in a peace-seeking manner,” read a statement from the Jewish federation.

“Manifestations such as these exposed in the restaurant, in addition to conveying false concepts, contribute to spreading a message of hatred, shaking relations and reducing the path of understanding.”

The Palestinian Alliance of Recife published a statement reportedly signed by Campos’ partner, a man of Palestinian descent who reiterated his position as anti-Israel with words such as genocide and apartheid.

In a statement to the newspaper, João Asfor wrote, in part: “I am a Palestinian! I am proud of my homeland and I am not deaf to the suffering of my people. I do not accept the genocidal Israeli government in the same way I do not accept the stupid Brazilian coup government.”

Asfor noted that he and Campos have different opinions, and that he has Jewish friends.

Recife is the site of the Kahal Zur Israel temple, the first synagogue established in the Americas, in 1637, during the short period that the Dutch ruled a small area of the then-Portuguese colony.

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