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Austria, Iran, and the Holocaust

Benjamin Weinthal
16th March 2012 - The Jerusalem Post

The United Kingdom is widely considered to be the central hub of efforts to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist, largely because of anti-Israel trade unions, the loony extremist British Left, and a sizable segment of politically reactionary British Muslims. To its credit, however, the UK’s government did expel Iranian diplomats after Tehran sponsored a storming of the British Embassy in November.
 
In sharp contrast to UK posture, on the Continent, the central European state of Austria has become a kind of diplomatic oasis for Iran’s regime. Leading Iranian human rights violators and nuclear weapons traffickers frequently shuttle back and forth between Tehran and Vienna. In short, Vienna is the hub of ubiquitous pro-Iranian regime activity in Europe.
 
Two events this week coalesced to show a rather glaring disconnect between Austria’s stated goal to fight anti-Semitism and its hands-off approach to enforcing EU and UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic, the world’s number one exporter of modern Jew-hatred.
 
First, the Austrian Foreign Minister delivered the run-of-the-mill speech to mark the—in retrospect regrettable—March 12 Anschluss of Austria, when Nazi Germany absorbed Austria on March, 12 1938 into its empire and euphoric Austrian crowds on Heldenplatz welcomed the Hitler movement.
 
Austria’s conservative foreign minister Michael Spindelegger said on Monday, “Every person of good will, who has like myself visited Yad Vashem, understands that it is essential to fight anti-Semitism and prejudices” [my translation]. He also praised Austria’s civil society service work in Israel.
 
While Mr. Spindelegger issued this boilerplate diplomatic language about combating anti-Semitism and remembering murdered Austrian Jews during the Shoah, Iran’s Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar attended a UN-sponsored forum in Vienna to fight criminality and drug trafficking.
 
It was a bizarre invitation. The recent UN human rights report, after all, notes: Iran executed 670 people in 2011, including more than 20 for offenses against Islam, a UN investigator said in Geneva on Monday. Most startlingly, the vast majority of people Iran executed in 2011 were convicted of drug offenses that do not merit capital punishment under international law. Iran’s judiciary is notorious for lacking any semblance of due process and fairness. In light of these facts, what was Mr. Najjar doing at any forum on the fight against drug trafficking?
 
To make Najjar’s invitation even more repulsive is the fact that he was a crucial figure in the regime crackdown against Iran’s pro-democracy protests in 2009. The EU sanctioned him and he is, at least on the penalty EU list, barred from visiting EU countries. He helped lay the foundation to build the anti-Semitic terror entity Hezbollah in Lebanon. Najjar has a long history with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US designated global terror entity. Lastly, he played a role in the bombing of U.S. military base in Beirut, resulting in the deaths of 241 soldiers.
 
Whatever the flaws or advantages of former NYC Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s decision to expel Yasir Arafat in 1995 from a concert for world leaders at Lincoln Center, he sent a clear signal against terror.
 
One wonders if Mr. Spindelegger could make more of an effort to enforce EU sanctions and bridge the gap between his anti-anti-Semitism rhetoric and the modernized form of terror from 1938, namely, Iran’s jingoism.

Tags

austria, europe, iran, israel