Austrian Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache’s visit to Israel didn’t go very well. As the daily Ha’aretz informed us, “At the recommendation of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, former President Shimon Peres will not be meeting with Strache.” This recommendation deterred others, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Looking at the Hebrew headlines, it became clear that Israeli politicians avoided Strache because he is perceived as being “far-right.” The tone was set the moment the Israeli media presented Strache as the “heir of Jorg Haider,” the controversial, former ultra-nationalist Austrian politician.
Haider was indeed an old-school anti-Semite, but he was forced to leave the Freedom Party, which he founded, in 2002. Since then, the Austrian Freedom Party has changed dramatically. Abandoning Haider’s legacy, the party under Strache’s leadership issued the very pro-Israel “Jerusalem Declaration in 2010.” Intentionally or unintentionally, this change has escaped the eyes of many in Israel, including in the right-wing...
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