Far-Right Austrian Leader Tours Israel — With Jewish Sidekick
The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party is touring Israel, four years after he angered many Jews by posting an anti-Semitic cartoon on his Facebook page.
Heinz-Christian Strache visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday and said he was in the country on an official visit at the invitation of the Likud party. However, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Times of Israel Strache’s visit had not been coordinated by the government.
According to the Times of Israel, former President Shimon Peres turned down a request to meet Strache, with his office saying it did not want to confer legitimacy on the far-right party.
Vienna City Council member David Lasar, who is Jewish, was one of six Austrians accompanying Strache.
Israel’s government officially boycotts the Freedom Party, viewing it as far-right extremist. However, some right-wing Israeli politicians have lobbied for the ban on meeting with Freedom Party leaders to be reversed, because the Austrian party’s leaders support Israel’s West Bank settlements and oppose Muslims.
In 2012, Strache, who has led the party since 2005, posted a cartoon on Facebook showing a banker with a large hooked nose and Star of David cuff links profiting from Europe’s financial crisis.