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Jewish World Review Feb. 16, 2000/ 22 Adar I, 5760

Charles Krauthammer

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Europe's Austria Hypocrisy -- JOERG HAIDER'S far right Freedom Party has been part of the Austrian government for two weeks now. No sign yet of an invasion of Poland.

From the outraged reaction of the European Union to Haider's inclusion in Austria's ruling coalition, you might have thought the old anschlussed Third Reich appendage was stirring once again for the glory of the fatherland. The EU has ostracized Austria, cut off bilateral meetings and unleashed a steady barrage of threats and denunciations.

Now, there is nothing wrong with the civilized world's registering its protest at the inclusion of a suspect, indeed loathsome, political party in the coalition government of a democracy. But this is hardly the first suspect and loathsome party to join a European government. The French Communist Party, which for most of a century was handmaiden to Stalin and his successors, is currently a full member of the French government.

Moreover, protest and criticism are fine. But the vehemence of European reaction raises a question: Exactly what threat does Haider pose?

He has campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform. And he has made the occasional softball remark about the Nazi past, saying, for example, that Waffen SS soldiers deserve respect for their wartime service. So Europe has risen as one to denounce this cryptofascism.

I have news for the EU:

(1) Nazism has been dead for 50 years.

(2) Hitler is not coming back.

(3) There are people diligently working to finish Hitler's work. They are not Austrian.

Who is manufacturing--today--poison gas for the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Jewish innocents? Who is building missiles to deliver these agents of extermination and aiming at the largest Jewish cities on the planet?

Libya, Syria, Iran and Iraq.

Yet even as Europe piously flagellates Austria, it openly consorts with these malevolent dictatorships:

Sept. 13, 1999: The EU lifts most of its remaining sanctions on Libya. The Italian prime minister recently visited Tripoli. Today there is talk of a Gadhafi visit to Brussels.

Jan. 22: An EU economic delegation goes to Syria in order to establish "a strong partnership." Indeed, the EU has, since May 1998, been in talks on a Europe-Syria free trade zone.

Jan. 28: British Foreign Minister Robin Cook defends renewed British "dialogue" with Iran and Libya. This while Iran is acquiring nuclear weapons and missiles that can reach Israel. This while Iran arrests 13 Jews on manufactured charges of espionage. (In 1997 Iran hanged two Jews on the same charge.)

Feb. 10: Italy's Fiat and Germany's Volkswagen go to Tehran to negotiate deals with Iran's state-owned automobile company. In October 1997 the largest French oil company joined a $2 billion project to develop the huge South Pars oil fields in Iran.

For months, France has been trying to get sanctions on Iraq lifted.

Haider's crime is expressing passing sympathy for those who fought in Hitler's army. (A French government official who charged that Haider had made "a number of antisemitic statements" later retracted the claim.) Yet in the Middle East, the government-controlled press routinely publishes Holocaust denial and antisemitic vitriol. Indeed, the very week that Haider came to power, the official Syrian daily Tichrin denounced and ridiculed as a "myth" the Nazi murder of millions of Jews during World War II.

Antisemitism in the official Palestinian press is so ingrained that you find it in the newspaper crossword puzzle. Clue: "Jewish center for eternalizing the Holocaust and the lies." Answer: "Yad Vashem" (Israel's Holocaust memorial).

Haider is reviled. Yet Arafat, who controls this propaganda, is regularly bear-hugged by Western leaders, beginning with best pal Bill Clinton.

There is no cheaper way to burnish phony human rights credentials than to come out resolutely against Nazism. Oh, the courage. Anti-Nazism was a specialty of Soviet propaganda for 50 years. All while the Soviet regime was running a gulag empire and doing its best to eradicate what little Jewish life Hitler had left behind in Eastern Europe.

Austria is a threat neither to democracy nor to Jews. There are, on the other hand, a string of countries whose expressed intention--the expressions are neither subtle nor veiled--is the eradication of the Middle East's single democracy and the expulsion or extermination of the Jews who live in it.

If Europe showed the least bit of outrage at that threat, real and present, one might take a bit more seriously its pious puffing about Austria's toy Hitlerism.

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