Brazil’s foreign minister gathers country’s Arabs and Jews

Brazil’s foreign minister gathers country’s Arabs and Jews

Meeting of community leaders promotes peace in the Middle East, and seeks to prevent spread of conflict to South America

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota (photo credit: CC BY Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons)
Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota (photo credit: CC BY Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons)

They may be a hemisphere away, but Brazil’s foreign minister believes his country’s Jews and Arabs can help to bring peace to the Middle East.

Antonio Patriota convened leaders of Brazil’s Jewish and Arab communities in Brasilia, hosting a conference this week titled “From Side to Side — The Construction of Peace in the Middle East: A Role for the Diasporas.”

Described as a “historic meeting” (Spanish) by South America’s Jewish News Agency, the session Tuesday explored how the region’s Jewish and Arab residents might influence their counterparts overseas, suggesting that their relatively peaceful relationship in Brazil could serve as a model. In addition to 50 local leaders, the conference drew foreign participants including French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf and officials from the Argentina-based Latin American Jewish Congress.

Among other activities, participants established working groups that will organize encounters for young Israelis and Palestinians in South America. The working groups also pledged to work together to prevent tensions in the Middle East from spreading to Brazil and its neighbors.

“South America, where Jewish and Arabs have historically lived together [peacefully], can offer aid in achieving a durable path to peace and respect,” said Jack Terpins, the president of the Latin American Jewish Congress.

Patriota told participants that he intends to hold similar meetings in the future, with plans to invite diplomats, journalists and additional Arab and Jewish leaders from across South America.

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