The Jewish community in Brazil is up in arms after renowned Brazilian singer, Nana Caymmi, made blatantly ant-Semitic remarks during a recent interview. Caymmi is one of Brazil’s most popular singers, and daughter to Dorival Caymmi, one of the country’s foremost composers.
In an interview with British publication Queen Magazine, Caymmi was asked about her son’s long battle with drug addiction. The singer stated that “it is pure hell. You cannot imagine the drama I live with. I constantly ask myself why I need suffer so. I am not Jewish, I did not crucify Jesus.”
Needless to say, Caymmi’s statements incurred the wrath of the Brazilian Jewish community, which demanded that the singer make a public apology. This apology was not long in the waiting.
A few days later, Caymmi apologized to the Jewish community in an announcement published in the Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
“In reference to the Queen article,” said Caymmi, “I just want to say that the statements I made were unfortunate, and do not reflect my true feelings. I had no intention of offending the Jewish community, with whom I have always had a good relationship. I truly respect the Jewish and Israeli community.”
The singer’s contrition was viewed with marked suspicion amongst the Brazilian Jewish community.
“They (Brazilian Jews) feel that these remarks are something skin to ‘but some of my best friends are Jewish,” said Shelly Aharon, director of the Brazilian culture and music form on the Tapuz website, and presenter of the Canta Brasil program on Mt. Scopus Radio.
“Without meaning too, Caymmi expressed a very common philosophy among Catholic-raised Brazilians,” said Aharon, a Ministry of Education employee who recently visited Brazil and remains in close contact with the country’s musicians. She, like Brazil’s Jewish community, remains unmoved by Caymmi’s apology.
“It is important to keep in mind that anti-racism legislation has been enacted in Brazil since 1988, which makes prejudiced remarks like Caymmi's punishable by time in prison, so I am not surprised that she recanted,” said Aharon.
“The fact that she published an apology in one of the country’s most prominent papers is a true victory for the Jewish community, however.”