How Israel Should Approach Austria’s Right-Wing Populist Government

Dec. 28 2017

Austria’s newly formed governing coalition includes the Freedom party (known by its German acronym FPO), which was founded by an ex-SS officer in 1956 and has long been a magnet for bigots, quasi-fascists, and Nazi apologists. Yet, argues Isi Leibler, the party has changed a great deal since the departure of its longtime leader Jörg Haider in 2005, and it would be foolish for Israel to shun Austria because of the FPO’s past:

With the broadening of support for the FPO, [its current leader, Heinz-Christian Strache], seeks to . . . purge it of the anti-Semites and fascists and concentrate on becoming a popular anti-immigration party. In fact, Strache openly courts Jews and Israel.

The coalition government’s program, published jointly by the FPO and [Prime Minister Sebastian] Kurz’s Austrian People’s party, . . . proclaims that combating anti-Semitism in Austria is one of the government’s principal objectives and that Nazism was “one of the greatest tragedies in world history.” The country that, until recently, claimed to be a victim of Nazism now vows to commemorate those who underwent “terrible suffering and misery” arising from the Anschluss, Austria’s 1938 unification with Nazi Germany.

The new government also explicitly commits itself “to Israel as a Jewish state”—a major departure from previous Austrian policy—and calls for a “peaceful solution in the Middle East, with special consideration for Israel’s security interests.” . . .

Israel does not need to endorse the policies of the Austrian government or the FPO. . . . Other than the East European states, Israel has no allies in the EU, which is now notorious for its shameless bias and double standards against the Jewish state. Under such circumstances, subject to the Austrian coalition government’s adhering in practice as well as in word to its policy statements concerning Jews, Israel should maintain relations with the Austrian government.

Read more at Word from Jerusalem

More about: Anti-Semitism, Austria, EU, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy

President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process