RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Rio City Council member has filed a criminal lawsuit against the PSOL political party for calling Shimon Peres an accessory to terror and genocide.
The condemnation proposed by Teresa Bergher, who is Jewish, seeks the removal of a webpage and the imprisonment of those who signed the Oct. 9 text condemning the late Nobel Peace Prize winner.
“It is a fascist and anti-Semitic action that must be tackled rigorously,” Bergher told local Jewish media. “Those responsible must be punished so that the offense is not repeated. It is not the first time that this PSOL stream discriminated and harmed the Jewish people.”
The suit was based on a Brazilian law that condemns crimes of prejudice, race and color under which one can be sentenced to between two and five years in jail.
“Peres was directly responsible for the attacks and bombings, extrajudicial executions and human rights violations that the Palestinian people had suffered for decades. Peres has been an ideologue of state terrorism at its best,” reads an excerpt of the far-left party’s text about the former Israeli president and prime minister, who died last month at 93.
The article drew an angry reaction in the Brazilian Jewish community and gained attention in the Brazilian media ahead of elections in the country’s second largest city on Oct. 30.
“We have rarely seen in such a short text such so many lies and hatred,” the Rio Jewish Federation said in a statement. “It is wrong to say that it only reflects the positions of a PSOL stream, since the same lies and the same hatred against the Jewish state are present in many texts published on the official website of the party itself.
“We will not be silent or unmoved before this type of aggression to a country that is friendly with Brazil. We demand that the PSOL national directorate, as well as their candidate running for mayor Marcelo Freixo, publicly unauthorize and officially withdraw this text from the web immediately.”
Freixo has apologized to the Jewish community, blaming an isolated group in his party for the Peres statement, with which he said he disagrees.
In a statement on Facebook, the PSOL said, “We confirm our solidarity with the Palestinian people and all those oppressed in the world. We fight against any discrimination to ethnic groups, peoples and religions. Therefore the accusation that the Workers Socialist stream is anti-Semitic is merely a slander.”
In 2009, PSOL members burned an Israeli flag in a street protest. The party’s opponents have recently spread the footage widely as the election nears.