Last month the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) was part of a delegation of European Counterjihad parties that visited Israel (Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff’s report on this momentous occasion may be read here).
Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the FPÖ, reciprocated by inviting Ayoub Kara, a deputy minister in the current governing coalition in Israel, to visit Austria. Once again Elisabeth has prepared a report on these events for Gates of Vienna, with translation help from JLH.
The Looming Islamization of Austria
by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, with translation by JLH
Strache: “I expect to be defined as a Christian and not as an unbeliever. This is the foundation for dialogue!”
Just a few weeks ago, a delegation of politicians from the new European Right visited Israel and met with leading Israeli politicians and members of the Knesset. Ayoub Kara, a deputy minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, a member of the Likud, and one of Netanyahu’s confidants, came to Vienna on a return visit. Already in Israel, the leader of the FPÖ (Freedom Party), Heinz-Christian Strache, had extended the invitation to Ayoub Kara, which was taken up immediately.
Upon his arrival minister Ayoub met with high-ranking members of FPÖ and reiterated that the Freedom Party was his most important contact in Austria on the question of fundamentalist Islam. Bomb attacks, which for decades have become almost the norm in Israel, are no longer just an Israeli problem, but also a European and a worldwide one. Kara decried the fact that those terrorists are acting under the guise of religion and that human rights are being trampled on. This fundamentalist Islam must be confronted relentlessly. Concerning Austria, Ayoub said that FPÖ is the only party that addresses the problem and that stands up for the freedom of nations and peoples and fights against racism and anti-Semitism. Like the FPÖ, Kara also criticized creeping Muslim immigration in European states, which will — short-term or long-term — lead to a Muslim takeover of Europe and the introduction of catastrophic Islamism. This will be detrimental to human rights. One must defend against this. And just as FPÖ is fighting for the Austrians’ right to their own country, so does Kara want to fight for the same for Israelis. Kara directed at his critics the observation that upon close scrutiny he had found nothing against Israel in the party’s statutes. In addition, the minister promised international support for FPÖ in view of the false picture painted by the media.
At a press conference, Strache emphasized FPÖ’s strict rejection of all totalitarian ideologies, be it Fascism, National Socialism, Communism, Stalinism, or Islamism. “Furthermore, we reject all ideologies that remotely support, endorse, or practice terrorism,” added Strache.
The day before Christmas the Freedom Party invited the interested public to a symposium titled: “Peace in the Middle East — A Pious Hope?” with Minister Ayoub, Mr. Strache, Mr. David Lasar and other high-ranking FPÖ officials on the podium.
Mr. Kara said the following in his speech:
It is important to cooperate with every element, organization, or party to fight terror, religious fundamentalism, which is a problem and danger to the entire world. I want to meet with Europeans because the same thing happened 60 years ago [alluding to the dangers prior to the Nazi takeover of Germany and World War II]. People were naïve back then, and they are naïve now. People are not speaking out loud about the problems. Muslims are killing people everyday, but nothing is happening [no one is reacting].
I want to thank Mr. Strache, FPÖ, and all parties in Europe that Israel is on the frontline [of this war]. In the future there will be organizations in every corner. Today in Israel, tomorrow in Sweden in Austria, everywhere.
I am not Jewish, but I am more Jewish than the Jews themselves. Non-Jews in Israel feel the same as Jews. I will fight with my Druse friends. They [the Muslims] hate us, they kill [us], and we defend Israel, we fight for Israel. There are only two million of us [Druse]. In Syria, Druse are sent to jail, there is no defense possible.
Other Arab states are sending messages to Israel that they are afraid of Iran and fundamentalism, but they cannot say it publicly. People are afraid because there are no human rights in the Middle East.
We must stop these fundamentalist organizations. Islam says: “We have the solution. All must submit to Islam.” But I like liberal life. They hate my policies. I speak out: I want the world to be free. Seventy years ago, people were quiet and did nothing to stop the situation. I am here today [to say]: Let us stop Islamic fundamentalism together before Iran attacks us. If you are afraid, you cannot stop anything. [But] we must stop this.
In Israel, they are saying: “Why are you going to Austria?”
I say: “Let us be together! I am glad to be sitting here next to my friend HC Strache!”
Strache’s reply: “I was not in Israel incognito. I was in a dialogue with Minister Kara. It is important to have dialogue. Mr. Kara has been criticized heavily by Ariel Muzicant [the leader of the Jewish Faith Community in Vienna]. This is absurd! It is a result of the SPÖ (Social Democratic Party) and its ideology. FPÖ has been denounced for decades. But the ideals of freedom must be defended!”
Minister Kara added: “Only one hundred years ago there were one hundred million Christians; now, there are not even one million Christians in the Middle East. The others either moved away or converted.”
Strache: “I expect to be defined as a Christian and not as an unbeliever. This is the foundation for dialogue!”
Ariel Muzicant, the leader of the Vienna Jewish Community and active supporter of the Vienna Social Democrats, has heavily criticized both Strache’s visit to Israel and Ayoub Kara’s return visit in Vienna.
Austria’s Jewish community is furious at Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara for meeting in Vienna this week with Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the far-right FPO party, and heaping praise on him at a joint press conference.
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, Ariel Muzicant, the president of Austria’s Jewish community, charged that Kara’s “visit and actions are stabbing us in the back.”
Netanyahu’s office said he had not yet read the letter and would comment only after doing so.
“I am writing you this letter to express my deep anger,” Muzicant began, noting that not only did Kara come at the FPO’s invitation, but “he has officially honored and praised individuals of this party as well as their political program.”
Muzicant noted that the party was founded by former Austrian Nazis in 1948, including many who had served in the SS, and when it entered the Austrian government a few years ago under former leader Joerg Haider, Israel scaled back its diplomatic relations with Austria.
The FPO has “called for the abolishment of anti-Nazi legislation,” and its representatives have “made anti-Semitic remarks and praised the Nazi regime, denied the Holocaust or invited and promoted notorious Holocaust deniers,” he wrote. As a result, the Jewish community has fought the party — “which was and is one of our worst adversaries” — for years.
“We feel betrayed and are outraged about this behavior of Deputy Minister Kara,” he concluded. “I consider this a shame for the State of Israel and a betrayal of the murdered 65,000 Austrian Jews and the 6 million martyrs of the Shoa.”
Kara, a Likud MK, did not coordinate his visit with the Foreign Ministry or the embassy in Vienna. When the ambassador found out, he urged Kara to cancel the Strache meeting, as Israel’s policy is to boycott the FPO. But Kara refused, calling Strache “a friend of Israel” in its war on terror.
A few points are worth mentioning here:
First of all, the Shoah was one of the darkest times in the history of humanity, and everyone must ensure that this never ever happens again. However, the holocaust took place more than seventy years ago and it is now part of history. Instead of complaining about something that took place decades ago, Mr. Muzicant would do well to voice his total disgust at what happened in Vienna fairly recently.
(In German: “Israel — child killer”)
(In German: “New Nazi: Israel”)
If neo-Nazis would march in Vienna with a poster proclaiming “Hitler wake up”, the left-liberal Viennese weekly Falter would not describe this as “strange demand”, but ask why the police allowed this slogan (a criminal offence in Austria) to be shown unhindered in public. But when it reported a demonstration organized by anti-imperialist “activists” on June 1st, they found the demand “Hitler wake up” only “strange”.
The big pro-Hamas demonstration in Vienna on June 4th  was different from demonstrations in other European cities. One of its main speakers was Omar al Rawi, a Social Democratic (SPÖ) member of Vienna’s local parliament (Wiener Landtag), who is also “Integrationsbeauftragter” (officially responsible for the integration of foreigners) belonging to the Muslim religious community of Austria. Omar al Rawi, who is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke in front of about 10,000 demonstrators shouting “Israel — murderers” who waived “Israel — child killer” banners.
But, alas, Muzicant did not utter a word. Why should he if the usual “suspects” are much more fun to vilify?
The second reason Muzicant did himself no favor with his letter to Israeli prime minister Netanyahu was voiced by David Lasar, a Vienna city councilman for FPÖ and a Jew himself. Mr. Lasar said that “Muzicant forgot one important lesson, namely that as a Jew he is expected to be Jewish first and support the state of Israel, and that only second is he a Socialist.” As a result, many members of the Jewish community, including SPÖ-voters, have rescinded their membership in the community.
And third — Muzicant, apparently wrapped up in his disgust for anything remotely right of center, has not been listening to Strache lately. But he should. It is absolutely worth it:
The common thread that binds us together here in Europe is the Christian Occident that has Judeo-Christian roots, which we must defend. And we are now experiencing that our native countries are massively threatened by a totally undifferentiated mass immigration from non-Europeans. There is an imminent Islamization taking place not only in Austria, but in all of Europe. As a result, there is a chance that the autochthonous ethnic groups in Europe will die out in only a few decades if we do not counter-steer in political terms.
It is especially important that we are not condescending towards the Middle East, that we try to understand the threats happening there on a daily basis, that we try to get a correct view of all sides [of the conflict], preferably on the ground.
This trip was very important for us, important in order to gain a better understanding of the conflict in the Middle East, important to further dialogue in order to explain and dispel misconceptions about the Austrian Freedom Party. I want to make very clear: We also want to understand the problems in the ground. We once had a neutral Austrian tradition, of which we are very much aware and which we want to revive. And I want to make something else very clear: Accepting and respecting Israel’s right to exist does not mean accepting without criticism every action Israel takes. Whoever believes that has misunderstood something. But it means going into dialogue with an open heart and to receive relevant information, in order to understand certain things that previously were not understood and could not be understood. In this conflict with the Palestinian, the Arab population, of course both sides must make a step in order to find a workable consensus. Just like any other people on this planet, the Arabs, just like the Jews, have a self-evident human right to a homeland and Israel’s right to exist does not preclude the rights of the Arab population.
In the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel it says: “We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness.” This sentence can and must be brought to life. However, it is very clear that if the neighboring peoples have codified their disinterest in peaceful coexistence and define as the objective the driving into the sea of all Jews, that this cannot be the ground for peaceful coexistence.
[Speaks about Austria and neutrality and its importance. Wants to revive it.]
We must also learn to understand the positions of the concerned parties. This country [Israel] is strongly affected by fundamentalist Islam and terrorism. Israel is bombarded on a daily basis by Katyusha and Qassam rockets, something that we were able to witness when we visited the very impressive museum in Sderot. The museum shows the wreckage of hundreds of rockets fired into Sderot and other nearby cities. These rockets sported messages for the Israeli population, and you must know that more than 10,000 such rockets have been fired into Israeli territory in the past year alone and that the local population there is confronted with death on a daily basis.
The people there, the parents, mothers and fathers, are forced to live with the threat of a Qassam rocket or a Katyusha rocket being fired into Israel, with which there only 60 seconds from launch to impact, and for which the Israeli Defense Force needs 40 seconds alone to verify the launch, another five seconds to start the sirens, leaving a mere 15 seconds for the population, mothers, fathers, to sweep up their children from the playgrounds and take them to a safe bunker area to save the children. And if you are confronted with this on a daily basis and you have to send your children to school in a bullet-proof bus, then this is a situation that we here in Austria or in Europe cannot imagine, because luckily we are not, perhaps not yet, confronted with this.
But here in the heart of Europe we are also confronted with this terrorism, in the heart of Europe there are tendencies in that direction. There are many fanatical groups, suicide bombers, who blow themselves up and take others with them.
It [Muslim immigration and Islamism are] is an attack on our building that consists of values which consists of different floors: Germanism, Hellenism, and additional floors, reaching up to the Enlightenment and Christianity, but also the Judeo-Christian roots. All of these floors have made us what we are today. Then there was the revolutionary movement of 1848, in which we rose up in favor of freedom of speech and other civil rights. All of these facets make us what we are today, today’s democracy, today’s fundamental rights. We should not forget this.
What about [Omar] Al Rawi? This socialist representative is one of the organizers of a demonstration in the heart of Vienna that drew up to 10,000 predominantly Turkish participants with Al Rawi as the ringleader. There were posters sporting messages like: “Hitler, wake up!” or “The Star of David is the new swastika!” These are Kafkaesque developments here in Vienna, supported by the SPÖ, by the socialist mayor, Michael Häupl, whom Mr. Muzicant from the Jewish faith community meets for a briefing on a weekly basis. The same goes for [chancellor] Werner Faymann, who finds nothing strange about these developments in our society. You also have the Jewish community led by Mr. Muzicant, who lives a true socialist doctrine. We are the only one who led a dialogue, and during the [recent Vienna] election campaign we were the only ones who took action with respect to this Islamism and anti-Semitism [during the demonstration], and he — Muzicant — then claimed a lie as truth, that FPÖ and Islamism act as a platform for anti-Semitism in our society. This is a documented lie, and there can be no lie that is better documented than this one, because we were the only ones who during the election campaign who not only pointed out these terrorist developments and the anti-Semitic developments, but also rejected them.
All of this shows how hollowed out our society has already become. It shows what kind of political representatives we have in our society, who sold us. In twenty years, if we do not effect a quick political change, we will no longer have an ancestral German-speaking majority population, but an Islamic majority population. Therefore we cannot and must not accept any relinquishment of our achievements such as democracy, freedom of speech, equality. This is the party program of the Freedom Party. And I say this very clearly: We oppose all totalitarian ideologies, whether it is fascism, national-socialism, communism, Stalinism, or whether it is Islamism, and regardless of whether this totalitarian ideology is camouflaged as a religion or some other totalitarian ideology. We also oppose everything or everyone that supports or practices terrorism.
[Excerpts of speech by HC Strache during symposium, December 23, 2010. Translation by AMT]
Clear words in a time when clear words are so elusive. These times are not easy for Strache. Given the party’s past, there are many who are confused about his engagement in Israel; there are those who are unhappy about the party’s new course. However, I firmly believe that these new developments are an important step in the right direction for the party.
To explain the party’s positions, Strache published an open letter in the party newspaper in December 2010 (unavailable online). It is worth reading:
Because of many false and incorrect reports as well as misinterpretations, I clarify as follows:
As a member of the Austrian National Freedom party who thinks nationally, and as an Austrian patriot, I am a convinced advocate for our ideals from the 1848 freedom movement. I live this conviction both in Austria and abroad with boldness, self-confidence, character, and consistency within the meaning of our freedom movement.
In Austria, my goal is to make our FPÖ, as a socially concerned domestic party, the strongest and most decisive political force, in order to preserve our children and children’s children from further aberrational developments. The looming Islamization of our homeland, Austria, is one of the most dangerous threats of our time, and must be confronted firmly and with determination. We intend to survive as a people and also to preserve and secure our European Christian West and our values and traditions. Beyond that, I want to establish social justice and security for Austrians. I can only accomplish this with you.
At the same time, as party chief of the FPÖ since 2005, I have built up very close contact and partnerships with many European freedom parties, like the Vlaams Belang, the Danish People’s party, the Lega Nord, the Sweden Democrats, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the movement PRO-Köln, etc. Beyond that, we maintain partnerships and contacts outside the EU, with Russia (United Russia Party), Serbia (Tonislav Nikolic) and Georgia. Under my leadership, therefore, we have become an internationally respected factor and valued dialogue partner. As Freedom party members, we may take pride in that.
For decades, the FPÖ, our third large political bloc [besides the socialists, the conservatives, and the liberals] and our homeland Austria have been fought and slandered internationally by the Left and by socialists. I am aggressively confronting this vendetta against us and our country.
Living for the dialogue with all states and parties in the world who are prepared to talk; clarifying our position on freedom and democracy; debunking, exposing and rejecting defamations of all kinds: all of this strengthens our proper, freedom-advancing position in the world and drives the Left to hate-filled outbursts of rage, because it causes their internationally-constructed edifice of slander against the FPÖ to collapse.
Official and active Israeli politicians, representatives and ministers, for example of the Likud, sought dialogue with us and invited the FPÖ to Israel. We accepted this invitation with both confidence and respect. We explained our freedom-advancing positions on existential issues and created an image of ourselves locally.
Our freedom-loving position is clear, even though it is twisted or ignored in the media.
We want to
1. engage in dialogue with all states, parties active in them, and representatives on the international, political level, not refuse international dialogue, and advocate for our position on freedom; 2. finally revive our Austrian neutrality at the international level and activate our Austrian role as mediator; 3. openly discuss with the Arab as well as the Jewish side their concerns and problems and illuminate them and, if desired, mediate between the parties; 4. insist upon indivisible international law, right of domicile, human rights and political rights of all peoples, and to support a peaceful coexistence in the interest of all affected peoples; 5. oppose international violence and terrorism, which unfortunately at this time is identical with radical Islamism in many spheres; 6. demand the implementations of the UN resolutions.
The Left is indignant at these official talks — which really should be the natural thing in democracy — because their strategic defamation ant stigmatization of the FPÖ cannot be maintained, and collapses. What the Left does not want must not be — that is the undemocratic basis of their thinking and action,
The IKG [Jewish Faith Community] and its leadership, with their political proximity to the SPÖ, to Chancellor Fayman and to Mayor Häupl reacted with indignation, attempted from the beginning to torpedo, fight and reject the dialogue and even demanded the resignation of Minister Ayoub Kara who visited Austria before Christmas at my invitation. These inept attacks, out of partisan socialist motives, are invalidated per se.
As leader of the FPÖ, I have been invited next to Syria and Lebanon, after that to Moscow and Belgrade; and I will accept invitations to speak in Canada and the USA, in order to meet conservative advocates and legislative representatives and further develop the FPÖ’s international dialogue.
Having conversations on the international level means neither merging with nor declaring obedience to those we engage in conversation. Anyone who believes that has misapprehended something. Recognition of Israel’s right to exist and rejection of anti-Semitism does not mean uncritically accepting everything in this region. We of the Freedom Party will always criticize negative and unjust developments. Regardless of where this may be the case: in the EU, the Arab world, the US administration, Israel or the administration of Austria.
My goal, together with you, is to make our Austrian Freedom Party the strongest, decisive force in Austria, win the chancellorship and through that to lead our country into a better, socially more just, lasting and secure future.
This important, responsible leadership role for the future will also earn us acceptance and respect on the international level.
Good luck. With freedom-loving greetings and gratitude for you previous support, I wish you contemplative holidays and a successful 2011.
Together we will assert and establish our ideals for the country. For the future and for our children.
H. C. Strache
Finally, to all those criticizing Strache and so many others for supporting Judeo-Christian values, I quote Fjordman, who as always says it in a nutshell:
Europeans need to understand how closely intertwined are the fates of Israel and of Europe itself. The term “Judeo-Christian” is not a cliché. We cannot defend Western civilization without defending its Jewish component, without which modern Western culture would have been unthinkable.
The religious identity of the West has two legs: The Christian and the Jewish ones. It needs both to stand upright. Sacrificing one to save the other is like fighting a battle by chopping off one of your legs, throwing it at the feet of your enemies and shouting: “You won’t get the other one! We will never surrender!” We could always hope that our enemies will laugh themselves to death faster than we bleed to death, the Monty Python way of fighting. Maybe that works, but most likely it will leave us crippled and pathetic, if not dead. […]
We cannot change what has happened in the past. We should, however, consider it our duty to combat anti-Semitism in the here and now and make sure that the remaining Jews both in Europe and in Israel are safe. This is not just because it is our moral and historical obligation, which it is, but also because we only gain the right to defend ourselves against Islamization of we grant the same right to Israel. Likewise, we can only begin to heal our self-inflicted civilizational wounds if we embrace the Jewish component of our cultural identity.