Monday, December 19, 2011

Why was this man in Vienna for the OPEC meeting?

Austria, anti-Semitism, OPEC, Iran and Israel! A random list of five words or an intertwined grouping?

If this was an aptitude test that asked the question which of the five words above did not belong, could any one of them be removed? More than one? None?

And why this question anyway?

For a brief overview of where this somewhat obtuse train of thought originates, on December 14th OPEC wrapped up its meeting in Vienna agreeing to maintain crude oil output at 30 million barrels a day.

The parting OPEC statement made fairly clear that by allowing members to act on production limits independently and on a voluntary basis, OPEC has to some extent become an irrelevant regulator of the oil market.

But that may have been only the second most interesting thing to occur in Vienna!

Banned Iranian allowed into Austria!

Maybe the bigger story of the gathering was that Austria allowed the Iranian oil minister Rostam Qasemi into the country, despite the fact that he is persona non grata in the United States and in other EU countries.

This ban stems from Qasemi's position as head of Khatam al-Anbia which is the Revolutionary Guards engineering arm.

Was this courtesy extended by Austria merely to allow Qasemi the opportunity to preside over the meeting due to the fact that Iran holds the OPEC chair?

Or from a conspiracy theorists standpoint, does the lax Austrian attitude concerning Iran have anything to do with a systemic anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic bias in the culture.

There is of course no cut-and-dry answer to this question, but consider the culture in Austria in the context of a Jewish population that went from a pre-WWII 192,000 to about 9,000 today.

Am I sitting here attempting to condemn an entire country to a moniker of Jew haters or a people that would like to see Israel destroyed?

Not at all, but why this decision to allow Qasemi in?

Was it simply a big mistake or is Iran just not considered much of a problem by the Austrian government, despite that country's outspoken desire to see Israel wiped off of the map and its steady move towards a nuclear weapons capability?

Or, was it an economic decision due to the business being conducted between the two countries?

Some thoughts and anecdotes about Austria, Jews and Israel!

Purposeful place to put a picture? "I know of no greater plague than this race, which on account of its deceit, usury and avarice is driving my subjects into beggary. Therefore as far as possible, the Jews are to be kept away and avoided." (Queen Maria Theresa)

In a recent meeting between Ehud Barak and Austria President Fischer the flag of Israel was placed next to a portrait of the queen who has been called the most anti-Semitic (see above). Interesting choice!

Business comes first! "... Samuel Laster, the editor-in-chief of the Vienna-based online Jewish news site Die Jüdische, wrote in an e-mail to the Post, “While other states seek to apply sanctions to Iran, Austria stays with its ‘Dialogue-Politics’ and allows the representative of Iran into Austria.

Laster, who was born in Israel and served in the IDF, noted that the Austrian energy giant OMV was prepared to engage in multi-billion dollar deals with Iran and other dictatorships. He called Vienna’s policies “vague and opportunistic” and said they “sacrifice Western interests in the name of neutrality.”

That neutrality is a smoke screen for advancing Austrian business interests, particularly with the “mullahs in Iran,” Laster said." (Source)

Anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism? “…veteran Austrian-Jewish journalist Karl Pfeifer spoke to The Jerusalem Post via e-mail about anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiments in Central Europe.

…The fragmented EU policy toward Iran prompted little optimism from Pfeifer that Austria would clamp down on its cordial relations with Tehran.

“Looks to me that as long as there is no clear EU policy toward Iran, Austria will not diplomatically sanction Iran,” he said.

In response to assertions that certain Austrian publications contain a bias against Jews, Pfeifer said, “Antisemitism in the mainstream media has almost disappeared. It is nowadays replaced by anti-Zionism. When nine Islamist provocateurs were killed by the IDF on the Mavi Marmara ship, the Vienna City Council within hours took an unanimous decision to condemn Israel.

“More than 3,500 Syrians have been killed, and nobody in Austria cares. Probably because of anti-Arab racism, believing that murder is part of Arab culture,” he said.” (Source)

Football and anti-Semitism! "... The use of Nazi symbols does not stop at the Vienna’s football teams. The Braunau Bulldogs show up with signs on which are written the words “We are youngsters from Hitler’s town”. Pictures of young people gesturing the Nazi salute in front of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp elucidate the trend prevalent in the fan clubs. On April 20th, parts of the Rapid team wished a happy birthday to the Führer using a sticker with the words “All the best 18”. The inscription “Heil HC” with a swastika on the vehicle of the anti-racial Tournament organizers was clear and understood by everyone. Also in games between Austrian and Israeli teams the antisemitic screams are heard all over the place. The situation is so severe that Wolfgang Winheim published an article in which he plays with words that express antisemitic prejudices like greediness and world conspiracy..." (Source)

Hitler and Austrian youth! “…The new survey asked youngsters aged between 16 and 19 what they thought of the dictator.

Pollsters were astonished when 11.2 per cent of them said that Hitler 'did many good things for the people'...

…Perhaps more sinisterly, in a statement that harks directly back to the Nazis, 18.2 per cent of them declared that 'Jews have now, like before, too much influence over the world economy’…” (Source)

Question conclusion!

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe, as a report presented by The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) indicates, anti-Semitism is not just an Austria problem but on the rise throughout Europe!

That actually seems to be the sad answer to the question. That not only could none of the words above have been excluded, but more would actually have to be added!

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1 comment :

  1. This article is making much too much of the gentleman's presence in Austria. I hadn't heard that Austria had to follow what other countries such as the US do or do not do. I don't think Austria for instance would allow Posada Carriles the terrorist bomber the right to live there like the US did. It really is very inappropriate for those who live in glass houses to throw stones. It ends after all to show how grossly hypocritical they are.