Green Party Split over How to Deal with Leader’s Anti-semitic Remarks

The ecology-minded Green Party in France remains split over how to deal with the anti-Semitic pronouncements of Jean Briere, the former spokesman of its Lyon branch, in southeastern France.

Briere, 58, was temporarily suspended in April following publicizing of his anti-Israel, anti-Jewish remarks. But that decision, by the party’s regional council in Lyon, France’s second-largest city, was reversed last weekend at a national meeting of the Greens in Paris.

Briere became a center of controversy after an analysis of the Persian Gulf crisis that he contributed to an internal party publication was made public. Titled “The Warmongering Role of Israel and the Zionist Lobby,” it criticized “the delirious declarations of Jewish writers.”

“It is impossible to count the Jews and the non-Jews in the media,” Briere maintained.

Commenting on the lawsuit brought against him by the Paris-based International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, Briere said he never espoused “racial doctrines,” but “if the truth is anti-Semitic, then I am an anti-Semite.”

He became an issue at the Greens’ national meeting, although party leader Antoine Waechter said he did not want the matter discussed while passions were running high.

During the meeting last weekend, a motion to endorse the Lyon decision was defeated.

A motion condemning Briere’s tract as “racist” was adopted only after the term “racist” was replaced by “with anti-Semitic connotations.”

A third motion suspended Briere as party spokesman without calling for his resignation. It was overturned on a technicality. It will be taken up again at the next general meeting of the Greens in November.

Meanwhile, about 40 party militants have decided to create a support group for Briere to fight the international league lawsuit.

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