Israeli envoy and Jewish leader call for action against antisemitism in Portugal

The Israeli ambassador to Portugal and the president of B’nai B’rith Portugal have urged the Portuguese politicians and society to take a stand against antisemitism, which has increased amid the Gaza war.

The Israeli ambassador to Portugal, Dor Shapira, and the president of B’nai B’rith Portugal, Gabriela Cantergi, made their appeal at a ceremony to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was held on Wednesday at the Lisbon Synagogue.

The ceremony, which was attended by representatives of the Portuguese government, parliament, civil society and religious communities, paid tribute to the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis during World War II.

The ceremony also honored the Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust by issuing them visas to Portugal in 1940, defying the orders of his government.

A warning against the rise of antisemitism

Shapira and Cantergi used the occasion to warn against the rise of antisemitism in Portugal and around the world, especially in the context of the Gaza war, which started on October 7, 2023, after Hamas attacked Israel with rockets and sent 3,000 terrorists across the border.

They said that the war, which has claimed the lives of more than 1,800 Palestinians and 12 Israelis, and displaced tens of thousands of people, has sparked a wave of hatred and violence against Jews and Israel supporters in many countries.

They said that they have witnessed antisemitic incidents and expressions in Portugal, such as graffiti, vandalism, threats, insults and boycotts. They said that they have also seen a distortion of facts and a demonization of Israel in some media outlets and social media platforms.

They said that they are concerned that antisemitism is becoming normalized and accepted in some sectors of the Portuguese society, and that it is not being adequately condemned and combated by the authorities and the public opinion.

A call for action and solidarity

Shapira and Cantergi called on the Portuguese politicians and society to take a clear and firm stance against antisemitism, and to show solidarity with the Jewish community and Israel.

They said that antisemitism is not only a threat to the Jews, but also to the values and principles of democracy, human rights and tolerance that Portugal stands for. They said that antisemitism is a form of racism and discrimination that must be rejected and fought by all.

They also said that they hope that Portugal will continue to support the peaceful and just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two-state solution and the recognition of Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.

They said that they believe that dialogue and cooperation are the only way to achieve peace and security in the Middle East and the world.

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