The Case for Working with the Austrian Far Right

April 18, 2018 | Daniel Pipes
About the author: Daniel Pipes (, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

While noting his concerns about the racist and ant-Semitic roots of Austria’s Freedom party, which is now part of the county’s governing coalition, Daniel Pipes urges Jews to work with the party, not against it:

The [current Austrian] government comprises two very different parties, which together won 58 percent of the vote: the arch-establishment and very mildly conservative Austrian People’s party and the populist, firebrand Freedom party of Austria, whose roots lie in the far-right swamp of German (not Austrian) nationalism.

The two parties’ coalition agreement is an anti-jihadists’ dream. Distinguishing between Islamism (which it calls political Islam) and the religion of Islam, it boldly stakes out new ground. . . .

Those hostile to the Freedom party stress its Nazi origins, its “politics of resentment,” and its anti-Western outlook. . . . My assessment: the Freedom party brings realism, courage, extremism, and eccentricity; it has a way to go before it becomes just another party. Its leadership’s efforts to address a problem like anti-Semitism (visiting Yad Vashem or calling for the Austrian embassy to be moved to Jerusalem) have gone down badly among rank-and-file members.

But I advocate working with the Freedom party, not marginalizing it. . . . [A] political party has no DNA or essence; it can change and be what its members make of it. Note, [for instance], how the U.S. Democratic party changed on the race issue.

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