Brazil is facing the collapse of its health service under the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in the world and the government is in the midst of a domestic political crisis. Nevertheless, it maintains its support for the self-determination of the Palestinian people and their struggle to regain their territory and sovereignty. People across Brazil participated in events during Israeli Apartheid Week 2021, which ended yesterday. The UN declared 21 March to be the “International Day for the Elimination of Discrimination”, intended to combat discrimination based on race, colour, ancestry, ethnicity or national origin.
For the past seventeen years, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) events have been organised worldwide to “protest against… injustices and to advocate for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality as part of the struggle to attain indivisible justice.” This year, in response to the call from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), BDS Brazil joined IAW by launching online and social media condemnations of apartheid Israel. As explained on the BDS website, “IAW is a tool to promote international solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice and human rights.”
The Palestinian Arab Federation of Brazil (FEPAL) also took part in Israeli Apartheid Week 2021. The goal was to show the people of Brazil how the State of Israel acts to restrict the rights of at least seven million Palestinians living between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, and denies millions more of their legitimate right to return to their land. According to Ualid Rabah, the president of FEPAL, the reason for the campaign at this time “is the growth of the Zionist lobby in Brazil, in addition to the alignment of the current government with Israel. There is also a more subtle movement at play which aims to criminalise criticism of the Israeli regime.”
Parliamentarians in the Brazilian Congress have also shown their support for the Palestinians. This is nothing new. On 5 December 2019, backed by 210 parliamentarians, including senators and federal deputies, the first Parliamentary Front in Defence of the Rights of the Palestinian People was launched. The formalities were held during a solemn session at the plenary of the Chamber of Deputies in Brasília. The parliamentary front expressed its intent to show to the whole world that its members are opposed to the pro-Israel stance of the Brazilian government.
Pedro Uczai, a federal deputy and president of the Parliamentary Front, spoke through FEPAL about the proposed work of the group. He pointed out that it will put pressure on the State of Israel for it to comply with UN resolutions to enable the Palestinian people’s sovereignty and self-determination. In Brazil itself, it will demonstrate that parliament, as the representative of the Brazilian people, opposes the Brazilian government’s bias towards the occupation state. “Democracy, freedom, and peace can only be achieved if UN resolutions are respected and followed to allow the creation of an independent State of Palestine,” he explained.
Basically, the front will work by denouncing Israeli violence and violations of international laws and conventions, and at the same time support the resistance and struggle of the Palestinian people as they seek their legitimate rights. Moreover, the front will encourage Brazilian senators and federal deputies, as well as the National Human Rights Commission, to visit occupied Palestine. This will demonstrate the solidarity of Brazil and its people with the people of occupied Palestine.
“As defenders of human rights and peoples’ rights,” said Uczai, “we must repudiate all forms of terrorism, including state terrorism that subjects populations to violence and hunger and deprives them of basic rights, such as health and education.”
Despite President Jair Bolsonaro’s policy of support for Israel, the Brazilian people and parliamentarians are strong in their support for the Palestinian cause. Hence, the now annual participation in Israeli Apartheid Week to oppose Israel’s institutional racism and affirm the rights of the Palestinian people. For Brazilian parliamentarians, real solidarity with Palestine and its people serves to emphasise their inalienable right to live in freedom in their own land with full sovereignty and their own culture. Solidarity with the Palestinian people is nothing less than a call for a just and lasting peace in the region.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.