TEL AVIV (Jun. 23)
Austria’s Ambassador to Israel, Otto Pleinart, and Walter Schwimmer, a member of the Austrian Parliament, assured Israelis here that anti-Semitism in any form would not be tolerated in Austria.
Pleinert and Schwimmer, who is a member of President-elect Kurt Waldheim’s People’s Party, both spoke Sunday at a gathering at Givat Haviva marking the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Heinz Nittel, president of the Austria-Israel Friendship League, who was gunned down by an Arab terrorist in Vienna in June, 1981. Schwimmer presently occupies the post held by Nittel.
The Austrian envoy declared that one of the objectives of the Friendship League is to fight anti-Semitism “or what is left of it” in Austria. “Even a remnant of anti-Semitism is intolerable,” he said.
‘AUSTRIA IS PEACE-LOVING STATE’
“Let me assure you that Austria is a peace-loving state and a democratic country which respects its minorities, which is a traditional land of asylum and which will go on to offer its services in the humanitarian field where they are needed,” Pleinert added.
Charges of anti-Semitism during the recent Austrian Presidential campaign have come from many sources. Only last week, the Austrian Jewish community accused leaders of Waldheim’s party of resorting to anti-Semitic cannards in a backlash against efforts, mainly by the World Jewish Congress, to expose Waldheim’s Nazi past.
‘NOBODY WOULD ADVERTISE MILITARY CAREER’
Schwimmer, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post published Sunday, begged Israelis to understand why Waldheim, in his memoirs, concealed his wartime service as an intelligence officer in the Balkans when atrocities were being committed against Yugoslavian civilians and Greek Jews were being deported to concentration camps.
“Nobody, except a Prussian militarist, would advertise his military career,” Schwimmer said.
Israel reacted to Waldheim’s election June 8 by recalling its Ambassador in Vienna, Michael Elitzur. Elitzur, who has not returned to his post, declined to comment on his recall. But he said Sunday he could assure Israelis that no synagogue has been burned in Austria recently nor have any sacred books been desecrated.
He was referring to the anti-religious counter-violence that broke out in Israel 10 days ago in reprisal for a wave of vandalism by ultra-Orthodox Jews.