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Thursday, May 15, 2008

'We have no moral obligation to Israel'

In 1991, six weeks after I made aliya (immigrated) to Israel, a client dragged me to Vienna for two days of meetings. It took me several years to figure out why but I have never felt so uncomfortable in a major city (and I love traveling!) in my life. I finally figured out why I was so uncomfortable in Vienna when I had occasion to visit Frankfurt several years later. Without going into the details, while both Germany and Austria were on the wrong side of World War II, Germans feel a sense of guilt and responsibility for what happened. The Austrians see themselves as victims. If you're a victim, you're not responsible for what happened to anyone. Including the Jews who used to live among you.

That attitude is the attitude of the directors of OMV, the largest oil and gas company in Central Europe and one whose principal shareholder is - you'll see below. At a shareholders' meeting on Wednesday, the directors were asked uncomfortable questions about the moral and financial propriety of the €22 billion deal they signed in April 2007 to produce liquefied natural gas from Iran's South Pars gas field.
Protesters from Vienna's Stop the Bomb organization distributed flyers at the start of OMV's annual stockholder meeting here on Wednesday, outlining Teheran's military threat to Israel and its persecution of minority groups in Iran.

Was the company's investment in Iran a "miscalculation" because of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program and the sanctions imposed for violating United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for the regime to halt enrichment of uranium, asked Dr. Hava Bugajer, an OMV shareholder and president of the Women's International Zionist Organization in Austria.

"The details are to be negotiated" and there is "no foreseeable result" regarding the implementation of the deal, replied CEO Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer to a packed auditorium at the Austrian Center Vienna.

OMV sees time as an ally and is waiting for "political change in the USA," Ruttenstorfer said in response to questions about sanctions against Iran at the stockholder meeting. [Think they're expecting Barack Hussein Obama to be the next President of the United States? CiJ]

He declined to comment on whether OMV's gas deal would violate the US Iran Sanctions Act, which prohibits large energy investments in Iran and spells out penalties for conducting more than $20 million of annual business in Iran's energy sector.

OMV spokesman Thomas Huemer told the The Jerusalem Post that "OMV as a company does not have a moral responsibility toward a particular state."

Bugajer told thePost that Ruttenstorfer' responses were "not really answers."
It's kind of ironic that the same candidates for 'change' in the United States are the ones who would remove any shred of morality from American foreign policy by negotiating unconditionally with terror states. But Americans will especially appreciate this next little tidbit which could be indicative of the type of moral equivalence that awaits us all in - God forbid - an Obama Presidency:
Shortly following the OMV Board's euphoric presentation of its "corporate social responsibility" record, Hartmann asked Ruttenstorfer whether it conformed to OMV's ethical code to conduct business with a country that "has executed more adolescents than any other state."

"We reject the execution of adolescents, whether in the USA, China or Iran," said Ruttenstorfer, adding, "We cannot change governments."
And you thought only a 'Palestinian' could compare a government like Iran's with a government like the United States.

Guess who OMV's largest shareholder is.
Critics in the US and Europe say OMV is in a unique position to influence foreign governments because its principal shareholder (31.5%) is the Austrian state. The office of Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer did not return telephone calls from the Post seeking a comment.
I don't see how the Austrian state has the unmitigated gall sixty-three years after the liberation of Auschwitz to argue that they have 'no moral responsibility' towards Israel. But if OMV is making that argument and the State is its largest shareholder, then the State is essentially making that argument.

If any of you want to argue that OMV's management is not representative of the Austrian people, this ought to give you pause.
However, Hartmann's human rights questions hit many raw nerves among the overwhelming majority of the Austrian stockholders, who booed and hissed her, seeking an end to her tough queries. The chairman of OMV's board, Rainer Wieltsch, agreed, saying "no presentations" were permitted and pulling the plug on her remaining questions.
Read the whole thing. It's sickening.


At 4:05 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Yeah. After 60 odd years one would think people in Austria have a sense of shame. Not everything in this world out to go for a fast buck. There some things that are more important than money and the Iranian mullahs think the West can be bought. It so happens there's still time left to prove them wrong.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Euroweenies look for any excuse to weasel out of of their history. I see it in my Christian friends who grow very uncomfortable when their churches recent antisemitic actions, and inactions are shown for what they are. I see it in my European associates when we discuss historical and political events, and they work to try to steer discussions clear of the horrors their countrymen have given the world.

Some things are just too abhorrent for humans to deal with. Not their own failings, but their treachery. This upsets their world-view. This causes them angst.

I have been to Austria, and met Austrians. Generally nice people, generally good hearted. Many arabs as cab drivers there, refused to take us around, speak to us, or service us. Iranians there were chatty, good natured, precisely the sort of people you want to see around.

Iranians have the albatross of mad mullahs and dinnerjacket around their necks. I don't blame Iranians for this. Islam is at fault here. It has bloody borders, and a long history of demonstrating how it is not a religion of peace.

Austrians were complicit in WWII, and in the extermination of their jewish population. As were Poland, and many other nations. Anti-semitism was always waiting in the wings.

The only victims of the Shoah were the groups targeted by the Nazis and their cohorts. Jews, Gypsies, gays, politically troublemakers. The cohorts were complicit.

So 63 years later, one of the cohorts signs up with the largest exporter of terrorism worldwide. A country whose leadership has nocturnal emissions over the possibility of continuing the nazis handiwork. The cohort may demand to be viewed as a victim. They weren't. They know that, the history books know that.

They do that for the same reason why euroweenies try to beat up on Israel. It allows them to escape the angst of their past crimes. They did evil. They helped evil. This does make them evil, and only by doing more good can the place history back in balance. Or they can try to ignore the evil they have facilitated, claim victim status, and state that they have no moral obligation.


Quoting that great philosopher of our time, Brittany Spears, "Whoops, I did it again."

Evil that is. Shame on you Austria. Shame on you.


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