Global Independent Analytics
Pedro Marin
Pedro Marin

Location: Brazil

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

The diplomatic dwarf irritates the Goliath once again

Last year the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor called Brazil a “diplomatic dwarf”, but it seems that the country just got taller

The unflattering nickname appeared after the Brazilian government’s decision to pull out its ambassador from Tel Aviv for consultation following its condemnation of  Israel’s “disproportionate use of force” during the war in Gaza that year. The spokesman went even further, clearly provoking Brazil by mocking the country’s football team loss in the World Cup.

"This is not football. In football, when a game ends in a draw, you think it is proportional, but when it finishes 7-1 it's disproportionate. Sorry to say, but not so in real life and under international law," said Palmor in response to the government of a country known as “the country of football.”

A year later, another diplomatic scandal emerges. Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said this week that “the State of Israel will leave the level of diplomatic relations with Brazil at the secondary level” in case the Brazilian government doesn’t leave aside its reluctance to accept Israel’s nominee for ambassador to Brazil, Dani Dayan.

Hotovely also stated that if Brazil fails to accept Dayan, “We [will be] talking about a crisis in relations between the two countries, and it is not worth going there,” adding that that the country will wage a public campaign and mobilize the Jewish community in Brazil – which is the tenth largest in the world and second in Latin America – to get the appointed ambassador accepted.

Dayan, who was specifically chosen by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was the head of the Yesha Council of the West Bank Jewish settlements from 2007 to 2013, which is why Brazil doesn’t want to accept him, as most of members of the international community consider the settlements to be illegal. Of course, the fact that Netanyahu announced Dayan as the ambassador through his Twitter account even before informing Brazil didn’t help as well.

This kind of trade of barbs is a very weird thing to Brazil, as the country has a long history of keeping its foreign relationships peaceful. Furthermore, Brazil was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Israel – after the Brazilian diplomat Oswaldo Aranha chaired the UN General Assembly in 1947, which approved the Partition Plan for Palestine – and in general has good trade relations with Israel, especially when it comes to trade in the military and technology industries.

The appointed ambassador also said in a recent interview for Haaretz that Brazil’s refusal to accept him is a “classic BDS” issue, meaning that the government’s refusal to accept him is due to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement’s pressure. The Brazilian media, in its turn, accuse “leftist groups within the government” for Brazil’s decision.

Whatever the case is, it may hurt Dilma’s popularity, as so many Brazilians look kindly upon Israel. For sure, it isn’t a good time for the government, as Dilma Roussef faces a political crisis and in 2016 will struggle against an impeachment process.

In case the diplomatic crisis gets to the trading relations, it will be a backlash to the Israeli military industry as well. Although it’s true that Brazil currently depends a lot on the country’s military equipment, there are alternatives out there, such as Russia. Last May, for instance, claims that the Brazilian government cancelled a deal with Israeli security company International Security and Defence Systems (ISDS) for the Olympic games in 2018 emerged, but the government dismissed it saying there has never been such a deal.

Anyway, this situation doesn’t seem to bother Israel at all, as the country keeps treating Brazil as a diplomatic dwarf. Maybe this arrogant attitude is fruit of the kind of relationship Brazil established with Palestine. But the Israeli government has to understand that Brazil isn’t a colony, and we have the right to sovereignly choose who crosses into our borders here – especially taking into account that accepting Dayan would probably weaken our diplomatic ties with other countries. After all, Israel didn’t want to accept New Zealand’s ambassador Jonathan Curr in 2014 as well.

Come on Bibi, show us some respect.

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