RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Brazilian Jewish congressman was accused by one of his party’s colleagues of Nazi behavior for recommending criminal charges against Brazil’s president.
“I will never bow to anyone when the offense pleaded against me is a racist atrocity alluding to my religion, though concealed by a play on words. I am the only Jew in office, which makes the defamation even more abusive,” Congressman Sergio Zveiter said on Thursday.
Zveiter is the author of a congressional charge denouncing President Michel Temer for passive corruption. If the plenary accepts the recommendation, Temer will be judged by the country’s Supreme Court.
“We are going to tear up our criminal code. This is an apology for Nazism and fascism. Mussolini was evil. Hitler was evil with this policy. The congressman’s behavior was sad,” Congressman Darcisio Perondi said of Zveiter in defense of Temer.
“Being accused of Nazism taints the honor of anyone, but especially when the victim is a member of the community that had 6 million of its members exterminated by the repugnant Nazi regime. That’s religious prejudice, the only reason to address a Jew using the references of what most nefarious and painful struck our people in the history of mankind, the Holocaust,” Zveiter added.
Several Jewish officials supported Zveiter’s reaction, led by the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s umbrella Jewish organization.
After massive media coverage, Perondi released a note to the media: “If there was a misunderstanding, I apologize to the whole Jewish community, which I respect and where I have I have excellent relations.”