Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro Reuters

Israel’s Ambassador to Brazil, Yossi Shelley, on Saturday night published on his Facebook page a clarification he received from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro regarding his comments on the Holocaust.

“To the people of Israel: I wrote in the guestbook of the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem: ‘Those who forget their past are doomed to not have a future.’ Therefore, any other interpretation is only in the interest of those who want to push me away from my Jewish friends,” Bolsonaro said, according to Shelley’s post.

“Forgiveness is something personal, my speech was never meant to be used in a historical context, especially one where millions of innocent people were murdered in a cruel genocide,” he added.

Bolsonaro caused an uproar on the weekend after he asserted during a meeting with evangelical pastors in Rio de Janeiro that the crimes of the Holocaust can be forgiven.

“We can forgive, but we cannot forget. That quote is mine. Those that forget their past are sentenced not to have a future,” Bolsonaro said, but also made clear that actions are needed for the Holocaust not to be repeated.

On Saturday night, President Reuven Rivlin responded to Bolsonaro and tweeted, "What Amalek did to us inscribed in our memory, the memory of an ancient people. We will never aid those who deny the truth or those who wish to expunge our memory – not individuals or groups, not party leaders or prime ministers."

"We will never forgive and never forget. No-one will order the forgiveness of the Jewish people, and it can never be bought in the name of interests,” he added.

"The Jewish people will always fight anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Political leaders are responsible for shaping the future. Historians describe the past and research what happened. Neither should stray into the territory of the other," said Rivlin.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum had also criticized Bolsonaro’s remarks.

“It is not the place of any person to determine whether the crimes of the Holocaust can be forgiven,” Yad Vashem wrote. “From the day of its founding, Yad Vashem has worked for the continuation of the memory and meaning [of the Holocaust] for the Jewish people and for mankind as a whole.”

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