US/World News

Friend to Jewish community named Brazil’s president

(JTA) — The elevation of a centrist vice president, Michel Temer, as Brazil’s president amid the impeachment process of Dilma Rousseff is expected to result in a less strained relationship between Brazil and Israel, as well as its Jewish community, Jewish leaders said. Temer, 75, the son of Lebanese immigrants, took the helm of Latin America’s largest nation on May 12. Rousseff, who has served for 13 years, was suspended by the Brazilian Congress for 180 days as part of an ongoing impeachment process. She has rankled the Jewish community with what were seen as anti-Israel remarks, including calling Israel’s conflict with Hamas in 2014 “a massacre.” Also, Brazil refused to accept the appointment of a former West Bank settler leader, Dani Dayan, as ambassador to Brasilia. In March, Dayan was named consul general in New York and no one has been named in his place.

Fernando Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, told JTA, “We’ll keep an effective and open dialogue with the new government regarding national, international and community-related subjects.” In January, in light of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Temer welcomed Lottenberg, who addressed him on the importance of the approval of Brazil’s first anti-terrorism law, which eventually passed in March.

Among his first moves, Temer announced that Jose Serra, a longtime friend of the Jewish community, as the minister of foreign relations and Ilan Goldfajn, an esteemed economist who was born in Israel, as president of the Central Bank. Goldfajn, who is Jewish, will attempt to boost the world’s sixth largest economy in the throes of its biggest financial crisis in a century.

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