The following op-ed from Die Presse is an appropriate follow-up to last week’s piece about the FPÖ and the Jews. The author of this essay, also a Jew, draws somewhat different conclusions from those of the previous author. He outlines the current situation for Jews in Austria and Germany, and identifies mass Muslim immigration as the greatest threat to Jews in those countries. He believes the current ÖVP-FPÖ coalition government understands this threat, and should be supported by Austrian Jews.
Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
Hostility to Israel is the Problem
by Fritz Rubin-Bittmann
January 18, 2018
It is cum grano salis that I share the opinions given by Ariel Muzicant In his guest commentary of December 22, 2017 (“No need to fear Kickl or other FPÖ ministers”). All the same, I believe that Jews in Austria need have no worries, no apocalyptic fears or misgivings in regard to the new government.
There are precedents for the coalition entered into by Sebastian Kurz with the FPÖ: The red-blue coalition Sinowatz/Steger and the black/blue government of Schüssel/Riess-Passer. The wave of anti-Semitic incitements and persecution feared by other countries was absent under these coalitions — and the Jews of Austria lived on as customarily.
A Glimpse Into the Past
During the government of Wolfgang Schüssel and Susanne Riess-Passer — after decades of requests from Jewish personalities and organizations — restitution was instituted, which at first was more symbolic, since only fragments of the stolen and “Aryanized” wealth was returned to those affected. I have heard from a well-informed source that, at a meeting of Wolfgang Schüssel, Jörg Haider, Israel Singer und Ariel Muzicant, in Salzkammergut preceding the formation of the government, the basis for restitution to Jewish victims of persecution or their heirs was discussed and agreed upon. No doubt the influence of the US under secretary of state in foreign affairs, Stuart Eizenstat, played a great role.
In his function as president of the Israelite Cultural Community and also as an influential member of the Viennese Jewish community, Muzicant has a pragmatic skepticism toward the FPÖ. He respects the power of factionalism in politics, and therefore, despite his aversion to the FPÖ, will enter into talks with them on important questions. It was Konrad Adenauer who long ago noted: No one can keep me from being smarter today than I was yesterday.
Let us note in this connection that Chancellor Bruno Kreisky once paid the head of the FPÖ at the time — Friedrich Peter — the greatest political respect. Unlike today’s FPÖ politicians, Peter had been repeatedly named as a “participant” in various war crimes trials brought by the German government against members of special units.
Nonetheless, Friedrich Peter was valued as a political partner by Bruno Kreisky, and Kreisky repeatedly defended Peter in the dispute with Simon Wiesenthal. Peter was certified to have made the change to democracy.
An Endemic Sickness
So I see nothing negative in the attempt of the FPÖ under Vice-Chancellor Strache to move closer to Israel. But caution is called for. Muzicant has justifiably pointed out the dangers from, for instance the monthly journal Aula and the brawling fraternal groups, Olympia and Teutonia. Right extremism, anti-Semitism and sympathies for the NS state are justly criticized. Anti-Semitism is a social phenomenon — an endemic sickness. In Austria, even after Auschwitz, it seems to have remained a historic constant — in spite of Auschwitz, or precisely because of it.
Karl Renner, Oskar Helmer and Adolf Scharf were emphatically anti-Semitic. Their convictions led to their writing to surviving Jewish Social Democrats in exile that, in the interests of their party, they should stay away and not return. If Theodore Körner had not advocated for him, Kreisky would likely have stayed in Sweden. Among the green and socialist youth, the Jews murdered by the Nazis are remembered. These sympathies are for dead Jews, but that ends with the living Jews — especially those living in Israel.
The anti-Semitic humor of mocking Jewish names is mean and disgraceful. Incidents like the deriding of the murdered Anne Frank by law students close to the ÖVP should be severely punished. It is especially ominous when these future elites of Austrian jurisprudence are destined to function as judges and states’ attorneys.
Anti-Semitism’s profile has changed now: Jew-hostile manifestations are Israel-connected. Accordingly, I see the chief danger for Jews in the explosive growth of Jew-hatred among European Muslims.
Bullying in German Schools
In Paris, the Jewish philosopher Elisabeth Badinter called for a demonstration to protest the concealment of Islamic Jew hatred by the media and politicians. The impetus was the violent death of a Jewish doctor in a Paris suburb. She had been beaten to death in her home by a Muslim. Several policemen had heard the screams and cries for help coming from her house, and done nothing. Politicians and the media were silent for weeks. It took the brother of the murdered woman to make sure that the public learned.
In Berlin, Israeli flags with the Star of David were burned at the Brandenburg Gate amid cries of “Kill the Jews.” Jewish children in German schools are daily exposed to bullying and attacks by Muslim schoolmates. “You Jew” has again become an insult du jour, and Islamic Jew hatred is able to do its mischief in Germany.
Government Recognizes the Danger
In Austria too, at demonstrations and soccer games, Muslim young people shout “Annihilate Israel, slaughter the Jews!” In the summer of 2017, there was a demonstration of Muslim women in front of the Opera, supported by the socialist youth movement. A speaker called stridently for the destruction of the state of Israel, so that the Palestinian state could emerge.
The present problems for Jews will come from Israel-connected hostility to Jews and concomitant manifestations of anti-Semitism. What must be done today is to prevent the beginnings and not close our eyes to the creeping Islamization of Europe and the dangers it brings with it. Only then can security be created for Europe’s Jews. I believe that the present Austrian government has recognized this danger and should be fully and completely respected by Austrian Jews.
As an influential member of the Israelite Cultural Community of Vienna, Ariel Muzicant could render a significant service in this regard — as it goes in the Aristotelian saying: “We cannot change the wind, but we can trim our sails.”
The author Fritz Rubin-Bittmann was born in 1944 in a cellar in Vienna-Leopoldstadt. He and his parents survived the Nazi era as “U-boats” — living undiscovered by the Nazis and presumably helped and concealed by members of the community. He later went to school and then studied in Vienna, becoming a general practitioner MD. In June 2017, he was awarded the rank of Professor.
|1.||“With a grain of salt”|
|2.||Chancellor from 1970 to 1983. He is considered perhaps Austria’s most successful Socialist leader, and a figure who parlayed a small country’s neutrality into a major moral and political role.|
|3.||Jewish Austrian Holocaust survivor, Nazi hunter, and writer.|
|4.||Fifth president of Austria, 1951-57.|
|5.||Austrian People’s Party