Israel doesn’t have many friends in Europe so it doesn’t exactly come as a shock that Jorg Haider, former head of Austria’s governing far-right Freedom Party, said he thinks "it’s a good idea" that Iraq sends $25,000 to the families of Palestinian terrorists who blow themselves up to kill Israelis.
"Palestinian people are killing themselves because they have no vision for the future," Haider, fresh off his second visit to Iraq in recent months, told The Jewish Week. "Young people say it’s a useless life. But the Palestinian people must have a vision of their own state and minimum living conditions. [The money tells] them there is someone who takes care of them."
Haider, who was in Manhattan last week to announce free 14-day vacations to Austria and Italy for 140 youngsters who lost parents in the World Trade Center, said also that he had been approached by some Israelis (he declined to say who) about using his contacts in Iraq to establish back-channel contacts with Palestinians.
But he said he is not a supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, believing his actions only lead to "new confrontations and not the peace we all desire."
Asked about the shift to the right in European politics (as exemplified by the 5.5 million votes far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen received this month in his failed bid for the French presidency) Haider said European debt is causing countries to cut their budgets. "People are afraid of higher taxes. Therefore, there is a change [for the Socialist] philosophy. In the last decade, many in Europe became wealthy and they donít have to rely on the social welfare state as they did before."