Koch Softens Criticism of France

Mayor Edward. Koch softened his criticism of France yesterday when he appeared before the French-American Chamber of Commerce. Earlier, he denounced President Valery Giscard d’Estaing for “delivering the Jews to the PLO” and for “allowing the Jews to become a scapegoat. “He made this statement in response to the bombing of a synagogue in Paris lost Friday.

In his appearance before the Chamber of Commerce, where he was guest of honor, Koch said that in his earlier statement he had intended to speak out against terrorism. He said that he criticized France for encouraging terrorism because of its relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Amid applause, the mayor said he was proud to learn of the measures France and Giscard d’Estaing were taking to bring to justice those responsible for the synagogue bombing. “It is to the joy of France that non-Jews are standing up and marching against terrorists,” he added. French Consul General Gerard de la Villesbrunne, following Koch to the podium, said: “We are just as much against terrorism as you would like us to be.”

In a meeting with a delegation of Jewish community leaders organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC), Villesbrunne emphasized “how much the French government and people share your grief and your concern” and cited the statements issued by the French President, the Premier, and the leading members of the Cabinet, all deploring the “intolerable, monstrous and abominable” attack. He described the overwhelming condemnation of the French people, the labor unions and the French political parties that has been evidenced by their spontaneous demonstrations in dozens of French cities.

Villesbrunne pointed out that the French Cabinet is devoting an entire meeting to the anti-Semitic events and the French Parliament had scheduled a full-scale debate for Friday. Illustrating the gravity with which his government viewed the situation, Villesbrunne said that the nation’s very highest court — convened only to deal with matters affecting the security of the state — had been called into session. The delegation was headed by Malcolm Hoenlein, JCRC executive director.

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