Brazil’s New President: ‘I Love the Jewish people and Israel’

Jair Bolsonaro chose an Israeli paper for his first interview with a foreign news organization after winning Brazil’s presidential elections.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Granting his first foreign press interview to Israel Hayom, Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro sent a message about the importance he attributes to the Jewish state. He expressed his warmth for Israel and reaffirmed his intention to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem. He said his promises regarding Israel were not a “campaign gimmick.”

Excerpts from the Israel Hayom interview follow.

Israel Hayom: Do you know that your first name means “to spread light” in Hebrew?

Bolsonaro: Yes, I was told this not long ago. I intend to do the best for my country, including having warmer relations with other countries that think like we do and support freedom, democracy and respecting the other.

I visited Israel two years ago and intend to return…. I’m very happy with how Israel and its ambassador here treat me so warmly, and it’s mutual. I love the Jewish people and Israel, and you can be sure that I will promote closeness and fruitful cooperation that will aid both our countries starting in 2019.

Israel Hayom: You’ve said numerous times that you’d move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem. Will you? And are you going to change the status of the Palestinian “embassy” in Brasilia?

Bolsonaro: Israel is a sovereign country. If you decide what your capital is, we’ll act accordingly. I said during the campaign that I’d move the embassy when I become president, and I will. About the Embassy of “Palestine” – it was built too close to the Presidential Palace. No embassy can be that close, so we intend to move it. I don’t think there’s any other way, and besides, Palestine first has to be a state for it to have the right to have an embassy.

Israel Hayom: Can Israel expect that Brazil will vote more fairly and supportively in international forums, such as the U.N.?

Bolsonaro: You can count on having our vote in the U.N. I know that the vote is often almost symbolic, but it helps to define the position that the country wants to take. You can be sure that you can count on our vote on almost every issue that deals with the State of Israel.

Israel Hayom: We already felt a difference in the rhetoric during the campaign, which until recently was very bad and discriminatory against Israel. How will the bilateral ties change now?

Bolsonaro: We won’t trade with the world according to an ideological view. You have huge potential in technologies that we don’t have in Brazil, and we have huge potential in natural resources. I believe that we can have reciprocal relations and partnerships so that both peoples benefit.

Israel Hayom: Will Brazilian Jews feel secure and equal under your leadership?

Bolsonaro:  We will treat everyone equally. I’m a Christian, my wife is Evangelical, and we will respect everyone equally. The country is secular; Jair Bolsonaro is Christian.