The New Observer
April 15, 2016
Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) leader HC Strache has been humiliated in Israel after all senior government figures refused to meet with him despite his attempts to ingratiate himself with the international Jewish lobby.
The Israeli foreign ministry issued a formal statement saying that it “wanted no contact” with the FPÖ leader.
The Austrian daily newspaper Die Presse reported that Strache’s motive for the visit was “to make himself kosher in Israel” in the belief that if the Jewish state accepted him, other world leaders would do so too.
He has, however, been met with closed doors. Even former Israeli president Shimon Peres refused to meet with him, in line with an official request from the Israeli foreign office.
The Times of Israel said that the invitation to visit Israel was extended in January by Eli Hazan, Likud’s head of information and external communications, and former MK Michael Kleiner, president of the Likud’s internal court.
“Kleiner has pressed for years for the ban to be reversed, citing Strache’s anti-Muslim position and his support for settlement building,” the Times of Israel said.
According to a report in Austria’s Österreich24 news service, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said it had been informed of Strache’s visit, but that it had “not invited him and wants no talks with him.”
Strache was, the Israeli foreign ministry said, on a “private” visit to Israel, “probably at the invitation of Likud MP Michael Kleiner,” who is known have had previous contacts with the FPÖ.
Jewish hatred of the FPÖ dates back from the time when Jorg Haider was leader of the party. Haider angered the Jewish lobby by once speaking at a memorial for Austrian Waffen-SS soldiers, declaring that they had fought for their fatherland and were not criminals.
When the FPÖ briefly formed a government coalition in 2000, Israel withdrew its ambassador from Vienna in protest.
Since taking over the reins of the party, Strache has sought to improve relations with the Jewish lobby.
In 2010, he visited Israel in his private capacity, but only succeeded in angering the Jews again when, instead of wearing a kippah on the obligatory tour to the “holocaust” memorial site of Yad Vashem, he wore his German student cap. (Pictured alongside).
Then in 2012, Strache posted a cartoon on Facebook showing a banker with a large hooked nose and Star of David cuff links profiting from Europe’s financial crisis.
The cartoon showed the corpulent—and obviously racially Jewish—banker being fed delicacies by a figure dubbed the “government,” while a third figure seated at the table, labelled the “people,” was emaciated and had only a bone on his plate.
Another version of the cartoon—with English captions, a more bulbous nose and minus the star shapes on the buttons—also exists. Strache replaced his original posting with this version after the original provoked an outcry from the Jewish lobby at home and abroad—with even America’s Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issuing statements of condemnation.
Now, Strache has resumed his attempts to rehabilitate the FPÖ with the Jews, this time using “right-wing” Jews in Austria as part of this program. One of these Jews, David Lasar, was recently elected to the Vienna city council, and accompanied Strache to Israel.
However, the Israeli foreign ministry confirmed to media that Israeli diplomats in Vienna are still forbidden to contact Strache or the FPÖ.
This would only change, the Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said, if “Strache is elected to the government, and then Israel would have to rethink its previous positon.”
Significantly, the Israeli spokesman said this “rethinking” would also apply to Marine Le Pen in France and “other right-wing politicians in Europe who would otherwise be shunned by Israeli diplomats.”
*In his latest visit to Yad Vashem, Strache wore a black homburg-style hat instead of his Germany student cap.