Rodrigo Sousa Castro, one of the leaders of the 1974 Portuguese Revolution and a national hero in the country, sparked controversy this week with a grossly antisemitic tweet.
“The Jews, as they dominate global finance, they bought and have the vaccines they wanted. It’s a kind of historical revenge. And I won’t say more until the Zionist bulldogs jump,” he wrote.
Israeli Ambassador to Portugal Raphael Gamzou and several Jewish groups blasted Sousa Castro, demanding he answer for his action.
“As a proud Zionist bulldog, I can promise that if Israel develops a cure for COVID-19, Colonel Sousa Castro will have access to it if needed,” Gamzou tweeted.
Firing back, the Israeli envoy added, “When it comes to medicine, we don’t exclude either primitive anti-Semites or ignorant racists, even if yours present is not as glorious as its past.”
The leaders of the Jewish Community of Lisbon (CIL), Portugal’s EJC affiliate, issued a statement condemning the general, and castigating his “deeply antisemitic, prejudiced, and provocative” tweet.
“Such hate speech and xenophobia must not go unnoticed. It must have consequences,” the statement said.
Andrew Srulevitch, director of European Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted, “Disappointing to see a hero of the 1974 Portuguese revolution, Rodrigo Sousa Castro, tweet about Israel getting vaccines because ‘Jews dominate world finance.’ Our full support to the small Jewish communities in Oporto and Lisbon which proudly and publicly denounced this hate.”
The Jewish Community of Porto issued a statement saying, “More than condemning antisemitic opinions of influential figures in Portuguese society, it is important to note that Portugal does not prevent or penalize the spread of stereotypes which, in the past, caused genocides among the world’s Jewish population and, in the present, call into question the respectability and security of Jews in general and Jewish communities in particular. Which, at the same time, have to ensure, by their own means, the protection of their members, properties, synagogues, museums, and cemeteries.”
Rodrigo Sousa Castro was one of the military generals to lead the Carnation Revolution – a military coup that took place on April 25, 1974 in Lisbon that ended the authoritarian Estado Novo regime. The revolution led to the end of the Portuguese Colonial War and started a revolutionary process that would result in a democratic Portugal.
Its was dubbed the Carnation Revolution over the fact that almost no shots were fired, and renowned Portuguese pacifist Celeste Caeiro offered carnations to the soldiers when the public took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship. Other demonstrators followed suit, and carnations were placed in the muzzles of guns and on the soldiers’ uniforms.
In Portugal, April 25 is a national holiday – Freedom Day – which commemorates the revolution.