Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache promised visiting Likud MK Yehudah Glick that he will oust anyone who expresses any support for neo-Nazism, racism, hatred, or antisemitism in his far-right Freedom Party.
Strache told Glick in Vienna on Tuesday that his party supported recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the country’s embassy there. He said he even made it a condition for joining the government in coalition talks, and even though he did not succeed, he would continue trying to persuade Austrians of the justice of the cause.
Glick told Strache that he received criticism for the visit from the Austrian Jewish community when he met with them, as well as from MKs in Israel.
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg accused the Likud of “dangerously flirting with the worst of the antisemites, as if support for the occupation and Islamophobia is more important than Jewish history and the commandment to ‘Never forget.’” She added that she did not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who denied he had sent Glick to Strache.
Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl participated in the meeting. Glick told the Austrians that he was not an official representative of the Israeli government.
He said he came “as a representative of the people of Israel, of whom six million sons and daughters were slaughtered in Europe and who formed a wonderful country in the land of Israel.”
Glick asked the Austrians to act against anyone who tried to harm the State of Israel or the Jewish people. He promised to do whatever he could to strengthen relations between the two countries.
Israel has maintained a non-engagement policy with the Freedom Party because of its Nazi past – it was founded in 1956 by former Nazis – and the antisemitic and racist leanings of some members.
In 1999, Israel recalled its ambassador to Vienna for more than three years because the party, then headed by Joerg Haider, joined the coalition. Yet Strache has sought to distance himself from Haider’s antisemitism, visiting Yad Vashem in April 2016.
In 2012, Strache was accused of antisemitism over a cartoon posted on his Facebook page that depicted a fat banker with a hooked nose and six-pointed star buttons on his sleeve.
The banker was gorging himself at the expense of a thin man representing “the people.”
Herb Keinon and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.