The World Zionist Organization this week hired a major public relations firm to mobilize world opinion against the inclusion of the rightist Jorgen Haider in the new Austrian government coalition.
The slogan adopted by the WZO campaign: SAY NO TO HAIDER
Haider had gained notoriety over the past few years, praising his parents for their service in the SS, issuing a slew of statements that rationalized almost every action used by the Nazi regime before and during World War II, and,to make matters worse, when Haider finally issued a “conciliatory” statement to acknowledge Austrian responsibilty for Jewish slave labor during the war, he qualified compensation for these slave laborers with compensation for the families of Austrian prisoners of war on the Russian front.
Quite an equation, no?
Haider does not only look towards the past – he proclaims, over and over, that Austria should close its doors to “foreign elements”, and openly speaks of using methods that the SS were famous for in order to rid Austria of any unwelcome foreigners…
Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, and Israel’s foreign minister David Levy joined the chorus of European condemnation of Haider and called back Israel’s ambassador to Austria, while ordering the cancellation of any and all Israeli cultural and educational activities and exchange programs with Austria.
Yet the swift response of the Israeli government and the WZO to Haider’s ascension to the Austrian gov’t stands in stark contrast to their lack of reaction to the official antisemitism of the Syrian government and the Palestinian Authority.
A case in point: When Tishrin, the official newspaper of the Syrian government, ran a January 26th front page editorial that compared Israel to a Nazi regime, Prime Minister Barak refused to issue any statement in this regard. When our news agency called his office to ask why, his spokesman said, on the record, that “there is no reason to issue a statement in this regard”. This reaction from Barak is nothing new. Since entering office, Barak’s office has yet to respond to any instance of Palestinian Authority or Syrian incitement against Israel. Even the new curriculum that was recently adopted by the Palestinian Authority, which prepares a new generation to make war to liberate all of Palestine, has elicited no response from the Barak governmemt.
However, the reaction of the Israeli government and the World Zionist Organization against the inclusion of of an antisemite in the regime of a government in the twenty first century has created a precedent. The question is whether Israel will apply it to the Moslem world with whom it is currently pursuing a peace process. Otherwise, we will witness a double standard for tolerance Jew hatred – one for the west and one for Israel’s Arab neighbors.
Israel has taken its step against Haider, in close coordination with the European Union and with the US and Canada. While the western world was condemning Haider, PA chairman Yassir arafat dispatched a letter of praise to the Austrian government for inclding Haider, and Assad’s official Tishrin newspaper wrote on January 26, 2000: “Israel enjoys playing the game of interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries under the guise of what it calls anti-Semitism…. This Israeli anti-Semitism, which reached the level of material blackmail, as happened in Germany and then in Switzerland, under the slogan of the Nazi crematoria, continues today in regard to Austria…. This is not the first time Austria suffers from such Israeli blackmail. In the past, this blackmail was launched at Austrian President Kurt Waldheim on the basis of the same false allegations. However, the Austrian people were on guard, supported Waldheim, and foiled the Zionists’ interference…” (article located and translated by MEMRI, the Middle East Media and Research Institute in Washington, DC)
Our news agency asked for reaction from the Israeli prime minister’s office and from the World Zionist Organization to the sanction of Jorgen Haider accorded by the official media of Syria and the Palestinian Authority. None was forthcoming, except for a telephone call from the spokesman of the World Zionist Organization to say that the chairman of the WZO was “shocked” to hear of the Syrian government media embrace of Haider.
Yes, a double standard is in force.