A controversy has arisen recently in Austria about a statement made by its defense minister, Norbert Darabos. Mr. Darabos managed simultaneously to be dismissive of the Iranian nuclear threat and disparaging about Israel’s attempts to defend itself.
JLH has translated two media articles on the topic, and our Austrian correspondent AMT sends this introduction:
Norbert Darabos, a member of the Croatian minority in Austria, leads a tough life. The historian, who calls himself a staunch anti-fascist, never wanted to end up as the minister of defense, especially since he skipped military service as a conscientious objector.
Darabos has always been extremely loyal to his party — the Social Democrats — and as the party’s secretary general he was in charge of the election campaigns back in the mid-2000s. His dream was always to be appointed interior minister, but fortunately this post went to the Conservatives. So he was appointed minister of defense, a man who had never held a weapon or seen the inside of a tank. Never mind that. The ministry of defense held promise nonetheless for Darabos. Who cares that he had no clue? Nowadays it is not important to have a clue, but to hold power.
So far, it’s been a rollercoaster ride — downhill all the way. Blunder after blunder has accompanied him. However, because the rest of the government is just as incompetent as he, his incompetence almost turned into competence. Only just.
Last week, Mr. Darabos seemingly felt the need to attack Israel’s foreign minister Lieberman. What bit Darabos to induce him to say these words will never be known. However, apart from the Austrian government’s immediate distancing, one wonders what would have happened if Heinz-Christian Strache had had the gall to utter this. (Strache, by the way, instantaneously rebuked Darabos and sided with Israel, saying that Darabos’ words were “an affront to Israel, a country with friendly ties to Austria and whose existence is jeopardized by external foes.”)
God help Austria if Darabos were to become the next foreign minister, as some MSM commentators are currently predicting.
The first piece is an op-ed from Die Presse:
If the Defense Minister Wants to Defend His Country, He Should Resign on the Spot
by Christian Ortner
Norbert Darabos is downplaying the second holocaust which Iran officially announced this past weekend. Such a person cannot stay in office here.
With admirable candor this past Sunday, the official Iranian news agency “Fars” removed all doubts about what Iran thinks of its Jewish neighbors in the Near East.
The agency quotes chief of the general staff, General Major Hassan Firuzabadi: “The Iranian nation stands by its intention to completely annihilate Israel. The Zionist regime is a cancer which must and will be excised.”
There are two possible interpretations. Either Mr. Firuzabadi was the victim of a terrible translation error — which Europe’s anti-Semitic Left constantly maintains in such instances — and actually was joking with “Fars” that he would love to have wild sex with a luscious young Israeli woman on the beach at Tel Aviv.
Or… the official agency translated correctly what the highest military figure of the Islamic regime of Iran told his numerous listeners: that — as President Ahmadinejad has always said — the Islamofascist dictatorship would really like to carry out that Holocaust which they otherwise deny happened.
Luckily, Israel can breathe easy. The reason for that is Norbert Darabos, a social-democrat military strategist famous in all of southern Burgenland. Just one day before the general major’s pronouncement of the desire to extirpate Israel, Darabos declared in this newspaper:
“And besides, Israel apparently puts an emphasis on external enemies like Iran, to distract from domestic social problems.”
So no doubt there was a sigh of relief from the Lebanese border in the north to Eilat in the south of the “Zionist entity.” For Mr. Darabos apparently knows better — much better — than the Iranian chief of staff what Teheran’s military leadership wants: just kidding, so to speak. Iran’s officially announced intention to militarily (i.e., with nuclear weapons) obliterate the Jewish state, is for Darabos a kind of feint by the Israeli government, to “distract from social problems.”
If it should be the case that Darabos does not know what the Iranian regime intends better than the regime itself — which does not seem so likely — then there is the question of what is driving the man to expose the Republic of Austria, to which he is sworn, to international ridicule. Unlike Günther Grass, who recently fared badly after a similar, socially unacceptable noise given off in the Israel-Iran context, the 48-year-old defense minister cannot plead senile dementia, even if his defensive remarks sound that way.
It is also improbable that Darabos merely wants to pander to the anti-Semitic milieu of SPÖ immigrant voters. That task is taken care of masterfully by SPÖ politicians like Omar al-Rawi, who likes to attend Hamas demonstrations in Vienna. But perhaps he is on vacation right now and Darabos had to fill in temporarily.
The second article, which describes the response of an Austrian Jewish organization to the Darabos affair, was also published in Die Presse:
IKG (Israeli Cultural Community): “Darabos Has Problems With Live Jews”
May 24, 2012
Oskar Deutsch, president of the cultural community, demands an apology from defense minister Darabos for his “uncivilized Israel bashing.”
[Vienna/Kufstein] Actually, Oskar Deutsch, the new president of the Israeli Cultural Community, did not want to comment at all on the affair. Now, however, since Norbert Darabos has doubled down on his “uncivilized Israel bashing” and pushed his criticism of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to ridiculous extremes, Deutsch told the Presse. he could no longer be silent.
“It is high time for the federal chancellor and vice chancellor to bring the defense minister to his senses.” Darabos should apologize and retract his insulting comments.
In the Presse on Sunday, the SPÖ politician had described Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as “unbearable.” Such a lack of respect, said Deutsch, was quite unusual and unseemly.
“Ignorant and cynical”
He is even angrier about Darabos’ “downplaying the Iranian nuclear threat.” To accuse the Israeli government of creating an image of Iran as an enemy in order to distract from domestic social conflicts was simply tawdry. “Darabos is either ignorant or cynical or both,” said the president of the cultural community. Apparently the defense minister did not know how dangerous Israel’s situation is. Not long ago. the Iranian chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi had threatened Israel with total annihilation. “We Jews have learned to take such threats seriously,” said Deutsch.
The IKG head does not, however, regard the defense minister as an anti-Semite. Darabos should be commended for his intervention against right extremist activities and for the accounting for the NS past in the army, said Deutsch. “But apparently he has problems with living Jews.”
In the Jerusalem Post, Shimon Samuels, director for international affairs of the Simon Wiesenthal Center had accused Darabos of “modern anti-Semitism” and demanded his resignation. On the verge of an international exercise on response to catastrophic events, the defense minister called the accusations on Thursday absurd. “I am an anti-fascist of the first water.”