The National Human Rights Council (CNDH), a collegiate body made up of several NGOs and linked to the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship (MDHC), published a note in defense of journalist Breno Altman, who has made statements relativizing Hamas’ actions against Israel . The CNDH appealed, in the document, to Altman’s right to freedom of expression, which is the target of actions by the Brazilian Israeli Confederation (Conib) in court.
At the end of January, following statements by former PT federal deputy José Genoino suggesting a boycott of Jewish businesses, Altman posted: “José Genoino is completely right. The colonial and racist state of Israel must be subjected to boycott, divestment and sanctions , like South Africa during apartheid”. Conib took legal action against him, stating that “Breno Altman once again makes his anti-Semitism evident and, more than that, his high degree of dangerousness, by reinforcing harmful stereotypes, fueling prejudice and contributing to the spread of hostile feelings against the Jews.”
In a note released this Tuesday (6) about the case, the CNDH says that Conib “tries to silence” Altman and that it “sees with great concern the escalation of censorship of journalists and communicators and the use of legal mechanisms to curb the free expression of opinion.” “Conib has the full right to oppose the ideas defended by journalist Breno Altman and others, but it is not up to it, or any other person or entity, to try to restrict freedom of expression, acting contrary to the Brazilian Federal Constitution”, he states the CNDH.
The council, which has advisory power within the federal government, also praises Altman in the document, stating that “the international community has paid attention to what is being called the genocide of the Palestinian people, promoted by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu” and that, In Brazil, “one of the most powerful voices against the bombings of Israel comes from journalist Breno Altman”, a “ferocious critic of the Zionist policy of the current Israeli government”.
The conflict between Altman and Conib dates back to last year, when the journalist stated, in October, that Hamas is “a decisive part of the Palestinian resistance against the colonial State of Israel”, and added: “it doesn’t matter what color the cats are, since let them catch mice.” On December 24, Altman had posts on social media removed by order of the São Paulo Court of Justice (TJ-SP) and became the target of an investigation by the Federal Police.
The journalist has attacked Conib via social media: he recently called it a “bolsonarians’ hooligan” and has said that the confederation acts on behalf of the Israeli government. Conib, however, has no direct link with the government of the State of Israel; it only represents the Jewish community in Brazilian territory. The Israeli Federation of the State of São Paulo, a precursor association to Conib, was created in 1946, even before the existence of the State of Israel.
Altman has already been openly defended by the PT, which attacked Conib
In addition to the CNDH, the PT has also come to Altman’s defense, stating in December that he is suffering from “political persecution” and that his position against the “massacre of the Palestinian people” is “firm and correct”. The party also said that Conib, author of the action against Altman, “acts on behalf of the Israeli government” in Brazil.
PT president Gleisi Hoffman published a tweet in December with similar content, stating that there is “persecution of journalist Brenno Altmann [sic]for its firm position against the massacre of the Palestinian people by the ultra-right government of Israel” and repeating the false information that Conib “acts on behalf of that government in our country”.
In a tweet responding to Gleisi with hundreds of likes, user Allan Marcos, who identifies himself as a Zionist, states that the PT president’s accusation against Conib “is serious.”
“The Zionist ‘doctrine’ is not responsible for the massacre. Zionism has several aspects and in common they all believe that Jews have the right to self-determination in part of their ancestral land”, explained the user. “Defending the Palestinian state, side by side with Israel, is the just cause. Defending the end of the only Jewish state in the world is anti-Semitism. I await the trial of the president of Conib, the new Dreyfus in the 21st century. You are pathetic”, he added.
Read the full CNDH note
Note of repudiation of the attempted censorship by the Israeli Confederation of Brazil
Since the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine broke out, with brutal bombings of the Gaza Strip, which have already killed more than 20 thousand people, including thousands of children and women, the international community has been paying attention to what is being called genocide of the Palestinian people, promoted by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Journalists around the world have denounced the attacks, demanding an immediate ceasefire. In Brazil, one of the most powerful voices against the bombings of Israel comes from journalist Breno Altman, of Jewish origin, and fierce critic of the Zionist policy of the current Israeli government.
To try to silence Breno Altman (and other people who freely express their opinions), the Brazilian Israeli Confederation (CONIB) filed two actions (one civil and one criminal) against the journalist to censor his comments, remove his posts from the air and prevent his participation in “lives, videos and demonstrations” on the Palestinian issue, “under penalty of preventive detention”, in addition to a fine in the amount of one minimum wage to be paid to each Jew living in Brazil.
The Federal Constitution, in its article 220, is categorical in affirming the free expression of expression: Paragraph 1 “No law shall contain a provision that could constitute an obstacle to the full freedom of journalistic information in any media outlet, subject to the provisions of art. 5th, IV, V, X, XIII and XIV”. Paragraph 2 “Any and all censorship of a political, ideological and artistic nature is prohibited”.
The National Human Rights Council (CNDH) views with great concern the escalation of censorship of journalists and communicators and the use of legal mechanisms to curb the free expression of opinion. Conib has the full right to oppose the ideas defended by journalist Breno Altman and others, but it is not up to it or any other person or entity to try to restrict freedom of expression, acting contrary to the Brazilian Federal Constitution.
The National Human Rights Council defends broad freedom of expression, responsibly, without prior censorship or threats that target people’s integrity due to their opinions. The death of more than a hundred journalists in the Gaza Strip, due to Israeli bombings, expresses in a brutal and perverse way the attempts to silence journalistic coverage, the free circulation of news and freedom of opinion and expression.