The Federal University of Santa Maria in the State of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil is under fire this week, after the dean requested a list of Israeli students and lecturers due to peer pressure from various organizations.
Jose Fernando Schlosser justified the move by stating that the list was requested by the teacher’s union, the student association, and The Association of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Later, he stated on Facebook that the letter was “grossly forged” and accused the distributor of forging pro-Palestinian symbols on the letter to defame him.
The Foreign Ministry stated to Arutz Sheva that the incident is “very difficult” and that “The Embassy in Brazil, the Israeli Consulate in Sao Paulo and the Jewish community, have begun operations immediately […] to address this ugly and racist initiative.”
The Ministry added that the letter hails back to “the dark days of humanity” and urged the school to condemn the move.
The University has confirmed that the letter was distributed, but has denied providing official sanction to the text; its rector, Professor Paulo Afonso Burmann, has denied that the university is looking to boycott Israel.
After exposure of the letter and complaints from Jewish organizations in the country, the State Prosecution in Brazil has announced that it will open an investigation against the head of the University staff, who is responsible for the letter, for “discriminating on the basis of color, race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.”
The Brazilian Jewish community stated the letter “raises painful memories among community members of the darkest periods in history. We are examining all means at our disposal to fight such phenomena.”