Brazil’s Bolsonaro says Holocaust crimes can be forgiven

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during inauguration ceremony of the new Education Minister Abraham Weintraub at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil April 9, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 April 2019
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Brazil’s Bolsonaro says Holocaust crimes can be forgiven

  • Bolsonaro has ups and downs in his relationship with Brazil’s Jewish community

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro believes the crimes of the Holocaust can be forgiven, but shouldn’t be forgotten.
The far-right leader made the comments Thursday night at a meeting with evangelical pastors in Rio de Janeiro. He was applauded by those who attended.
“We can forgive, but we cannot forget. That quote is mine. Those who forget their past are sentenced not to have a future,” Bolsonaro said, adding that actions are needed for the Holocaust not to be repeated.
On April 2, Bolsonaro visited the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During that visit, the Brazilian leader labelled Nazism a leftist ideology, a claim rejected by historians.
More than 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.
Bolsonaro has ups and downs in his relationship with Brazil’s Jewish community.
In 1998, as federal deputy in Brazil’s Congress, he defended students at a military school in the southern city of Porto Alegre who voted for Adolf Hitler, among other figures, as the historic character they admired the most.
“They have to choose those who knew, in one way or another, how to impose order and discipline,” Bolsonaro said at the time, adding that he did not agree with the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime.
Official figures estimate the number of Jews in the South American country in about 120,000, corresponding to 0.06% of the population.


US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

Updated 19 April 2019
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US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

  • A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend
  • The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group

KABUL: The US envoy for peace in Afghanistan expressed disappointment on Friday after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed some of the deep divisions hampering efforts to end the war.
A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend. The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.
“I’m disappointed Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, said on Twitter. “I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.”
The collapse of the meeting before it had even started, described as a “fiasco” by one senior Western official, laid bare the tensions that have hampered moves toward opening formal peace negotiations.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-born diplomat, has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives but the insurgents have so far refused to talk to the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.
The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the US-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.
President Ashraf Ghani’s office blamed Qatari authorities for the cancelation, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans.”
“This act is not acceptable for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Friday.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Qatar, which had been facilitating the meeting, said there was no disagreement about the agenda.
“Rather, there is insufficient agreement around participation and representation to enable the conference to be a success,” he tweeted.
Preparations had already been undermined by disagreements on the government side about who should attend, as well as by suspicions among rival politicians ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September.
The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party.” Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend.
The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.