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Austrian Leader's 'Anti-Semitic Facebook Cartoon' Draws Ire

A far-right Austrian politician came under fire Monday after posting a cartoon on Facebook, likened to anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 8/21/2012, 10:01 AM

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Reuters

The leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), Heinz-Christian Strache, came under fire Monday after posting a cartoon on Facebook, likened to anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda.

On Sunday, Strache posted a caricature of a banker with a hooked nose, wearing Star of David cufflinks, accompanied by a comment decrying "EU banking speculators" for taking tax money from Austrians, BBC reported.

On Sunday Strache posted a second version, labeled in English. The Star of David emblems had been removed from the banker's cufflinks and the shape of his nose had also been changed.

Both images show another figure labeled "The Government" pouring a drink for the banker, while a third, poorly clothed and thin figure labeled "The People", sits opposite the banker with a bone on his plate, according to the BBC.

"It is not a coincidence that a caricature of Jews, similar to the ones in 'Der Stuermer' in the 1930s and 1940s, appeared on the Facebook page of Freedom Party leader Mr Strache," said Jewish leader Oskar Deutsch, referring to a Nazi publication.

The Jewish community, as well as Austrian politicians from both center-left and conservative parties, have condemned the cartoon.

The conservative People's Party called on the Freedom Party (FPO) to address "the incendiary and discriminating tones within the party itself". A lawyer in Vienna has also said he will sue the FPO for Holocaust denial, which is illegal in Austria, the BBC reported.

On Sunday, Strache responded to the criticism with a further comment on Facebook saying he did not tolerate anti-Semitism and insisted that he was highlighting his contempt for "the caste of greedy bankers."

Earlier this year, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Strache mocked victims of the Holocaust by comparing anti-fascist protests to Kristallnacht.

National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, issued a statement saying, "This latest anti-Semitic expression from Heinz-Christian Strache is all the proof anyone needs to see that he has not given up his anti-Semitic beliefs."

"Now, he's promoting the anti-Semitic canard that Jews control international finance and manipulate governments to enrich themselves at the expense of non-Jews.  Strache brings shame to Austrian politics and should be repudiated for his anti-Jewish bigotry," Foxman added.