AUSTRIA – ‘Far right’Hofer would have been better for Israel, says Jewish FPO member
I-24 NEWS – Hofer as Austria’s president would have produced a better result for Israel, a Jewish member of the Freedom Party (FPOe) told i24news Sunday.
“I think Hofer would be the best president for Israel because he knows everything happening in Israel,” David Lasar said after the election results came in.
Hofer, swiftly conceded defeat after polls closed with tallies giving his opponent- independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen- 53.3 percent of the vote over Hofer’s 46.7 percent.
According to Lasar, Hofer last visited Israel in 2014, during the 50-day summer war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “The last time he was there, there were the rockets from Gaza to Sderot and also to Tel Aviv, so he sees the problems,” Lasar said.
Despite the party’s defeat in the election, Lasar also says he hopes that the FPOe and Israel can work to strengthen ties, and condemned the Boycott Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
“I hope that we can make a big step and that we will work much better together with Israel- my party, Mr Strache and Mr Hofer and I – and we can do much more for Israel and also for Judea and Samaria for the boycott because the boycott is a big problem for Israel and also for the villages—the settlers—and is also a problem for the Palestinian people because they have no jobs,” he told i24news.
“I think the boycott is not the best,” he continued, adding “It is not the answer when you have political problems. We must work together but not with a boycott. The best is to sit together at the table and talk.”
Asked about a perceived divisiveness in opinions within the Jewish community about the FPOe, whose former party leader Jörg Haider was infamous for his anti-Semitism and pro-Nazi opinions, Lasar replies that he feels opinions are split fairly evenly.
“In the Jewish community in Vienna or in Austria it is 50/50,” Lasar explains about the party’s outreach. “Some people say we will wait a little bit and the rest say we have big problems with the refugees because they are anti-Semitic, and they have big problems. Some Jewish people cannot go on the street on Friday, on Shabbat with their kippa (skull cap) so I think it’s 50/50 in the Jewish community.”
“The left wing, the left left wing, they are against us, but the people in the Jewish community, most of them know that the Freedom Party… is the best way for us in Austria and also the best for Israel,” he adds.
On his candidate’s defeat, Lasar says that they are disappointed, but also pleased to see the level of support that the Freedom Party garnered.
“I think people in Austria are behind the freedom party because they know what is happening in Europe, and also from the refugees in Austria. We have man many problems because of the refugees in Austria and all these have given us 46 percent support at the moment,” he said.
Ariel Muzicant, President of the Viennese Jewish community, holds a different point of view when it comes to the FPOe, saying that “we will not tolerate again the close relation of this party to antisemitic and neonazi ideas.”
Reflecting on rhetoric surrounding the election, and the focus on refugees, Muzicant notes that “people vote for right wing parties out of frustration against terrorism, against refugees, against not coping with the new era of modern society. Many people are afraid to lose their jobs so they vote against something and not for the freedom party.”
“The same thing happened with Trump, in Italy, in all places,” he continues. “People are voting out of anger and frustration and they often not knowing what they are going to get, but they don’t care.”
Muzicant goes on to mull the consequences of such trends.
“Nazism and killing the Jews did not drop from the sky,” he says. “Antisemitism has grown on hate and envy and there was all kinds of antisemitism. Killing the Jews in the Shoah resulted from many many movements and these movements are still there . The difference is that now it’s not about the Jews it’s also about the Muslims.”
“The point is that a society built on hate will not thrive and will only lead to civil war. Once they are done with the Muslims they could go back to the Jews,” he adds.
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