RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — The mayor of Rio de Janeiro spoke up for Israel before some 2,000 people during a celebration of Israel’s Independence Day which made news on Brazil’s main weekly primetime TV show.
Marcelo Crivella, whose four-year term started in January, has been a longtime friend of the Jewish community and an enthusiast of the Jewish state, which he reportedly has visited around 40 times.
“Israel is proud of its 69 years of fight and victories. It has shown to the world that it is a strong democracy surrounded by the most barbarian atrocities and totalitarian regimes,” said Crivella, who is a prominent evangelical leader, during the celebrations held on Sunday. “Israel, which has a total area that is equivalent to half of that of Rio de Janeiro state, is very important to us.”
Israel’s newly-appointed ambassador Yossi Shelly came from Brasilia for the event, which was attended by several Jewish and non-Jewish officials and also marked the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
“This celebration shows the unity of Rio’s Jewish community and the great friendship that we have built with our city’s mayor,” Israel’s honorary consul Osias Wurman told JTA.
Rio’s population includes some 35,000 Jews.