Brazilian President Luis Inacio "Lula" Da Silvia arrived in Israel on Sunday for a historic visit, but ended up insulting a great many Israelis by the end of his second day in the country.
Da Silvia is the first sitting Brazilian president to visit Israel, and did so despite his warm relations with Israel's regional arch-enemy, Iran. Da Silvia hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Brazil last November. He is scheduled to visit Tehran in May.
Da Silvia's visit was going according to schedule until on Monday when he refused to visit and lay a wreath on the tomb of 19th century Zionist philosopher Theodor Herzl, the ideological father of the modern State of Israel.
Israel's Knesset last year decided to have all visiting heads of state visit Herzl's tomb, which all had done, until Da Silvia.
"The decision is insulting to citizens of Israel and to Zionist communities worldwide, including the Jewish community of Brazil," World Zionist Organization head Hagai Marom, who escorts visiting heads of state to Herzl's tomb, said in remarks to Israel National News.