Amid an anti-Jewish climate permeated by U.S. and Israel bashing, displays of anti-Semitism and physical assaults on Jewish participants, the Simon Wiesenthal Center was the only international Jewish non-governmental organization participating in the recent World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Throughout the city, a well coordinated, international solidarity campaign was launched by the Palestinian Social Forum with their distribution of violently anti-U.S. posters, anti-Israel t-shirts and diaries praising suicide bombers (see photos).
Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Center's International Liaison and Sergio Widder, Latin American Representative, expressed concern over the safety of the city's Jewish community to Porto Alegre's mayor and asked that he "raise his voice to condemn the anti-Semitism that has invaded the city." They added that the anti-Israel poster campaign that appeared throughout the city in three languages reinforced "the anti-Jewish atmosphere at the World Social Forum endangering Porto Alegre's small Jewish community."
At the same time, Center officials protested to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva over the pending ruling in the Supreme Court over a Holocaust denial publisher who has asked the court to cancel his sentence on the grounds that "his incitement to anti-Semitism is not a racist crime, as Jews are not a race." Samuels and Widder asked that the President take measures to ensure that Brazil's Supreme Court not "be abused in the service of hate" and "to personally condemn incitement to anti-Semitism as a racist crime."