Foreign Policy Digital

The Christian Coalition That Helped Elect Bolsonaro Has Started to Crumble

The Brazilian president’s visit to Israel, which was meant to rally his evangelical base, has instead revealed his weakness.

This week, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro toured Israel in an effort to strengthen ties between the two countries. In Israel, his reception was mixed. Although the visit drew some criticism due to Bolsonaro’s stances on torture and the environment, he also won support for the business opportunities that a closer relationship would represent.

At home, meanwhile, the trip was even more divisive. According to Leticia Pinheiro, a political scientist at Rio de Janeiro State University, the three days of tours and business meetings “managed to displease all of his constituent groups.” After promising to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem, which in his diplomatic corps, Bolsonaro changed his mind and offered to open a new business center in the city instead. That angered Bolsonaro’s Christian Zionist supporters while also managing to his country’s trade partners in the Arab League—leading buyers of Brazilian halal meat. Things only got worse when Flávio Bolsonaro, the president’s oldest son and a senator for Rio de Janeiro, on Tuesday that he wished Hamas would explode itself, irritating the many Brazilians who back a two-state solution.

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