The Israeli Flag Flies in the City That Gave the World Herzl and Hitler

In the midst of May’s Israel-Hamas conflict, the Austria chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, had the flag of the Jewish state hoisted over the seat of the government in central Vienna’s Ballhausplatz. Meir Soloveichik explores the “unique and profound poetry” of this gesture:

In 1895, Theodore Herzl, working as a journalist in Paris, returned home to Vienna and found the city in the midst of a mayoral election that would be won by the charismatic Karl Lueger, known to his admirers as “Der schöne Karl,” [handsome Karl]. Lueger would come to be seen as the man who would change Vienna, reconfigure it into an embodiment of modernity, technology, and beautiful gardens, which is why he is celebrated to this day in the city’s Karl Lueger Square.

But Lueger would herald the coming 20th century in another, more ominous manner: he demagogically described the Jews as a cabal controlling Europe and as the central threat facing European civilization. . . . Lueger’s anti-Semitic diatribes earned him the adulation of the Austrian masses, among them a young man by the name of Adolf Hitler who studied in Vienna during the mayor’s administration. Hitler would cite Lueger as his role model and make special mention of Der schöne Karl in his own memoir, Mein Kampf.

It is often assumed that it was the Dreyfus affair that inspired Herzl’s vision, but in fact, as Rick Richman has noted, Herzl had originally assumed Dreyfus’s guilt, and he had dismissed French anti-Semitism as a mere “salon for the castoffs.”

Rather, as Richman has demonstrated, it was Lueger’s anti-Semitism that truly moved Herzl to reconsider the fate of European Jewry. Soloveichik concludes:

We are now able to understand the meaning of what it meant to fly the Zionist flag in the city that taught Hitler the power of hate and the city that taught Herzl the importance of Jewish nationalism. In a speech to American Jews, Kurz argued that Austria’s history “guides my political work today,” reminding him that “we have to be a strong partner of Israel.” By flying the Israeli flag, Kurz communicated that Vienna faces a choice: to stand with the locus of living Jewry, or to stand with Hamas, the heirs of the Nazis’ quest for genocide of the Jewish people.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Adolf Hitler, Anti-Semitism, Austria, Theodor Herzl

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf