Fact Check

Videos Reveal More Than 1M Brazilians Showing Support for Israel?

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was reportedly seen waving an Israeli flag during the demonstration.

Published Feb. 26, 2024

 (Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Getty Images
Claim:
Videos that circulated in late February 2024 showed more than a million Brazilians showing support for Israel during its war in Gaza.
What's True

The videos are authentic and show a rally held on Feb. 25, 2024, in S?o Paulo, in support of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

What's False

Although some participants of the protest waved Israeli flags, including Bolsonaro, it was not the central focus of the event.

What's Undetermined

It remains uncertain whether over 1 million people attended the demonstration, as the exact number of attendees at the demonstration remains unknown.

The protracted, often bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict exploded into a hot war on Oct. 7, 2023, when the militant Palestinian group Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel and Israel retaliated by bombarding the Gaza Strip. More than 20,000 people, the vast majority of them Palestinians, were reportedly killed during the first two months of the war alone. The violence is driven by mutual hostilities and territorial ambitions dating back more than a century. The internet has become an unofficial front in that war and is rife with misinformation, which Snopes is dedicated to countering with facts and context. You can help. Read the latest fact checks. Submit questionable claims. Become a Snopes Member to support our work. We welcome your participation and feedback.

On Feb. 26, 2024, videos went viral on X (formerly Twitter) allegedly showing more than 1 million Brazilians showing support for Israel amid its war in Gaza. "Thank you to over a million Brazilians who, in an incredible and heartwarming demonstration last night, expressed their unwavering support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people," one X post read.

(X user @dannydanon)

"WOW! Over a MILLION stand with Israel in a massive show of support in Brazil today," another X post claimed.

While the videos were authentic, and it was true that some people in the crowd waved Israeli flags, those captions were misleading.

The event, which took place on Feb. 25, 2024,?in S?o Paulo, was organized to show support for former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro,?amid an investigation into accusations that he tried to overturn the October 2022 election results and pressured military chiefs to stage a coup.

The current president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, was recently?embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with Israel, stemming from his comments comparing Israel's military actions in Gaza to the Nazi genocide of World War II. In this context, Bolsonaro, who said these statements were "criminal," waved an Israeli flag to show disagreement with da Silva's words.

In other words, the crowd did not gather with the sole purpose of showing solidarity with Israel, despite the footage's framing by social media posts. Some participants, including Bolsonaro, waved Israeli flags not only as a gesture of support for its actions in Gaza but also as a symbol of defiance against da Silva and his?comments comparing the Israeli military to Nazi Germany.?

As far as the claim that "over a million" people attended the protest — in reality, an exact count for the crowd size was unknown. The?BBC?and The Guardian indicated that "tens of thousands"?of Bolsonaro supporters gathered in?S?o Paulo, while Reuters?mentioned "thousands." Brazilian sources?suggested that the number of participants ranged from 185,000 to 600,000 (we translated it using Google Translate):

The S?o Paulo Public Security Secretariat, under the command of Bolsonaro governor Tarcísio de Freitas, estimated 600,000 participants. On the other hand, members of the University of S?o Paulo (USP) calculated 185 thousand.

Various reliable sources, such as the BBC, Reuters, and?The Guardian, reported on the protest in Brazil. For instance, The Associated Press described the event as?a "huge rally" organized by Bolsonaro supporters "to defend him against legal challenges that could put him in jail." That article also said some participants "carried Israeli flags as a show of defiance to the current president."

Some also carried Israeli flags as a show of defiance to the current president, who has received widespread criticism at home for comparing Israel's military offensive in Gaza to the Holocaust.

"What I seek is pacification, it is erasing the past," Bolsonaro said in a speech as he held an Israeli flag himself. "It is to seek a way for us to live in peace and stop being so jumpy. Amnesty for those poor people who are jailed in Brasilia. We ask all 513 congressmen, 81 senators for a bill of amnesty so justice can be made in Brazil."

Similarly, Al Jazeera?reported?Bolsonaro and his supporters "waved Israeli flags at the protest, in a rejection of Lula's recent remarks comparing Israel's offensive in Gaza to the Holocaust."

In sum, we have rated this claim a "Mixture" of true, misleading and unconfirmed information.?The in-question videos are authentic and they show a rally held on Feb. 25, 2024, in S?o Paulo, that gathered supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.?Although some participants of the protest waved Israeli flags, including Bolsonaro, it was not the central focus of the event. Furthermore, the exact number of attendees at the demonstration remains unknown.

We've fact-checked other?Brazil-related rumors before. For instance, in July 2022, we debunked a video that purported to show a shooting in the country. Less than a year later,?in February 2023, we investigated whether a viral photo authentically showed lightning striking the Brazilian statue known as Christ the Redeemer near?Rio de Janeiro.

Sources

Benassatto, Leonardo, et al. "Brazil's Bolsonaro Gathers Supporters in Show of Strength amid Coup Probe." Reuters, 26 Feb. 2024. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/brazils-bolsonaro-gathers-supporters-show-strength-amid-coup-probe-2024-02-25/.

"Brazil Ex-Leader Bolsonaro Denies Coup Allegations." BBC News, 25 Feb. 2024, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-68398676.

"Bolsonaro levou 185 mil ou 600 mil pessoas à Avenida Paulista?" R7.com, 26 Feb. 2024, https://noticias.r7.com/prisma/blog-do-nolasco/bolsonaro-levou-185-mil-ou-600-mil-pessoas-a-avenida-paulista-26022024.

Jair Bolsonaro: Tens of Thousands Attend Rally in Support of Brazil's Former President | Jair Bolsonaro | The Guardian. https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/26/jair-bolsonaro-brazil-sao-paulo-rally-support-former-president. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

LaMagdeleine, Izz Scott. "Does Viral Photo Show Lightning Striking the Christ Redeemer Statue?" Snopes, 16 Feb. 2023, //fact-check/lightning-striking-christ-redeemer-statue/.

Liles, Jordan. "'Brazil in a Nutshell' Street Gunfire Video Shows TV Series Filming." Snopes, 27 July 2022, //fact-check/brazil-nutshell-shooting-video/.

"Supporters of Brazil's Bolsonaro Stage Huge Demonstration to Defend Him amid Investigations." AP News, 25 Feb. 2024, https://apnews.com/article/bolsonaro-brazil-rally-legal-woes-88ba5fdc25bbedc192665f7e95e3cc19.

"Thousands of Brazilians Rally in Support of Bolsonaro amid Coup Probe." Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/2/26/thousands-of-brazilians-rally-in-support-of-bolsonaro-amid-coup-probe. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.