It's a long way from Tel Aviv to Brasilia, but the journey just got a bit longer. When Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, Brazil bristled. President Dilma Rousseff, who rarely gets in a lather over foreign policy, called Israel's move into Gaza "a massacre" and recalled her ambassador for consultation.

Israel hit back, with a foreign ministry spokesman snubbing the South American giant as a nation that had become "irrelevant" in world affairs.

That stung, in part because it was a familiar slight: former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda once famously slammed Brazil as "a giant that acts like a dwarf" for falling silent while human rights were trampled in Venezuela and Cuba.