Austrian Jews Chide Likud MK for Meeting Far-right Leader

President of Austria's Jewish community complains to Netanyahu, charging that the meeting is a 'stab in the back.'

Austria's Jewish community is furious at Deputy Minister Ayoob 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.

Ayoob Kara- Olivier Fitoussi
Olivier Fitoussi

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.