Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Czech Republic: Miloš Zeman and the Czech tradition of supporting Israel when it matters

Via The Tablet (Edward N. Luttwak):
The only European leader who starkly defied the protesting chorus to applaud Donald Trump’s recognition of Israel’s capital was the President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman.

By so doing, Zeman was renewing a peculiar tradition of his office that started with the founding president Thomas Masaryk, a philosophy professor who first became a public figure in Austro-Hungarian days by powerfully defending Leopold Hilsner, a Jewish tramp tried and convicted of the ritual murder of a girl in 1899. To the fury of the Catholic prelates who had incited mobs against Hilsner, the imperial authorities intervened from Vienna to stop Hilsner’s execution. A long campaign ensued till Hilsner’s liberation, and, in the process, Masaryk won over many Czechs to his view that anti-semitism was a pernicious pack of lies at a time when it was almost Catholic doctrine ( Viennas’s mayor Karl Lueger kept been re-elected till his death in 1910 on an explicitly anti-semitic platform, strongly backed by the Church). (...)

All through this, the Czechs–Israel’s one and only suppliers–were bombarded with American and British complaints, outright threats, and offers of inducements, but they stood firm, just as Miloš Zeman stood firm when Federica Mogherini, Arafat’s ex groupie and Rouhani enthusiast (not one word from her about the recent Iranian protests) and now Europe’s farcical “High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy“, chose to lead the outcry over Jerusalem.

Zeman is up for re-election against Jiří Drahoš, a nice man and a perfectly respectable scientist, but it is clearly Zeman who upholds the Masaryk tradition when it comes to Israel. He received 38 percent of the vote in the first round as against 26 percent for Drahoš, but faces a maximum effort from the Mogherini set in the concluding vote next week (for more on the election see here). He is worthy of support.
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