´Austrian minister has problem with living Jews´ (JERUSALEM POST) By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 05/25/12)
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BERLIN - Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos reinforced his
attacks on Israel and a leading Jewish NGO, prompting the head of
Austria’s Jewish community, Oskar Deutsch, to declare on Thursday to
the daily Die Presse that the minister “has problems with living
Dr. Shimon Samuels, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center´s
international division, told the Jerusalem Post that Austria’s
government should "denounce and fire" Darabos because he marginalized
the Iranian nuclear weapons threat, launched biased criticisms of
Israel, and disgraced Austria´s foreign policy reputation.
In a telephone interview with the Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Samuels
said “Necrophilia is not an excuse against anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, the European Left uses dead Jews from seven decades
ago as a fig leaf to not see anti-Semitism.”
In an email to the Post on Wednesday, Stefan Hirsch, a spokesman for
Darabos, outlined a list of Holocaust commemoration events that
Darabos attended or supported honoring murdered Jews and anti-fascist
fighters. Hirsch said that Darabos sharply "rejects the accusation of
anti-Semitism" and termed the charge of Jew-hatred to be "absurd"
because of his work as a resistance fighter against right-wing
Samuels asserted that the “the Austrian government is complicit”
unless they sack and criticize Darabos, whose "obstinacy and
insensitivity makes it even more inappropriate for him to be defense
The angry reactions reflect the growing concern among Jewish
organizations in the United States and Austria that Darabos
endangered international security by playing down the Iranian nuclear
threat, helped make Iranian anti-Semitism respectable, and showed
bias with his fixation on criticizing Israel and its foreign minister.
After the Wiesenthal Center’s call on Wednesday for his resignation,
Darabos flatly rejected Samuel’s demand, but reiterated his anti-
Israel views. He has over the last week strongly defended his
controversial interview with Die Presse. In the interview, Darabos
called Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman “unbearable,” and accused
Israel of using Iran’s work on a nuclear bomb – and the Palestinian
issue – to deflect attention from domestic problems.
“Mr. Liberman is unbearable for me as a member of the Israeli
government,” Darabos said in the interview. In connection with Iran,
Darabos said that Israel’s “threats” were "unnecessary" because “Iran
is not ready to build the bomb.”
Oskar Deutsch, the head of the roughly 7,500-member Jewish community,
told Die Presse that either Darabos is ignorant or cynical or both.
Deutsch called on Darabos to apologize for his insulting statements
directed at Israel and Liberman. He added that Darabos showed no
respect toward Liberman.
Critics see Darabos, who is a member of the Austrian Social
Democratic Party, as part of a larger problem in which left-wing
politicians use their anti-Nazi credentials as a kind of immunity
against charges of modern anti-Semitism—the hatred of Israel and
Israeli Jews. Vienna social democratic city council member Omar al-
Rawi spoke in 2010 at a pro-Hamas rally in the capital inciting
violence against Jews.
Samuels asked, “why doesn’t Darabos save his breath for the poor
Syrians or for the Yemenites? Why is he only focusing on the Jewish
state? What does this say about him?”
Darabos refused to answer a Post query on Thursday if he has
criticized other countries in a similar manner as the Jewish state.
(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/25/12)
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