Far right Austrian government has deep anti-Semitic roots

by Leah Rosenberg

Austria’s government has a far-right party with deep anti-semitic roots. And it’s frightening.

Freedom Party’s Anti-Semitic Origin

Take a look at Austria’s Freedom Party. Heinz-Christian Strache is now the Vice Chancellor of Austria. But his past is tainted with neo-Nazism. He seems to be trying to get rid of that past.  But his party has had many anti-Semitic incidences – including the Vice Chancellor himself. The Freedom Party has many connections to the Burschenschaft, the German Nationalist Student Fraternities. Nearly 40% of FPO’s MPs belong to this group. The Burschenschaft is anti-Semitic. It’s clear, and no one can deny it.

Burschenschaft Anti-Semitism

A racist songbook was leaked. What one song said will shake you to the core: “Step on the gas, you ancient Germanics…so we can make it to seven million.”

Another song said, “Two Jews once swam in the Nile…One drowned. The other, we hope so.”

Strache’s Caricature Post on Facebook

The Vice-Chancellor of Austria set a new low for Anti-Semitism. He posted a caricature on Facebook of a big-nosed, fat banker with Stars of David on his cufflinks.

The worst part is that he has NOT taken the post down, and he defends himself. When questioned, Strache responds, “There is absolutely no anti-Semitism in the text or the image.”

The scary reality is that anti-Semitism is still rampant. In governments, colleges, on the streets – anywhere you can think of, anti-Semitism still exists.

Austrian Chancellor Visits Israel

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, of the ruling People’s Party, recently visited Israel. He met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit.

Kurz understands the fear in Israel to the Freedom Party’s inclusion in the Austrian government.

“We will try to raise awareness in Europe for the special situation and the special security needs of Israel,” Kurz said.

Austria will assume the European Union’s presidency on July 1.

“We Austrians know that in light of our own history, we have a special responsibility toward Israel and the Jewish people,” Kurz said. “I can assure you that Austria will fight all forms of anti-Semitism in Europe with determination, be it still an existing one, or also newly imported anti-Semitism.”

“We also know that our responsibility does not end at our borders and to support the State of Israel and also your security situation,” Kurz said, adding that Israel’s “neighbors are not like ours, Liechtenstein or die Schweiz [Switzerland].” At this point during his remarks, Netanyahu jokingly asked if Israel and Austria could switch neighbors for a few weeks, to which Kurz replied: “Not sure about that, not sure about that.”

Netanyahu’s Response

At a reception held at the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu highlighted a speech Kurz gave earlier this year in which he acknowledged that Austrians were not only victims of Nazi Germany but also “perpetrators.”

“These are courageous and bold words and I think they chart the course that you’re leading in Austria and our relationship, one that I support very, very much,” he said.

Netanyahu praised Kurz for his declared willingness to raise Israel’s concerns within the EU, saying that Jerusalem feels that Brussels sometimes fails to take them into consideration.

“This is a breath of fresh air. And this is leadership,” Netanyahu said of the 31-year-old chancellor.

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