Tatra Tiger gets Silver Hand from Israel
Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses—Matthew 10:9
Twice in the last year, Israel extorted Croatia. About to become a full member of the European Union later this year, Croatia is highly susceptible to political pressure, to the extent that President Ivo Josipovic issued in February 2012 an apology for his country’s role in the crimes committed against the Jews during the Second World War. Of course, the Republic of Croatia became independent only in 1991, many years after the WWII ended. Having judged this not being a good enough extortion, the West used Croatia to funnel weapons to the Syrian rebels. These were a reminder of Israel’s intensive diplomatic activity in formerly Communist countries. In Passover 2013, arrived Slovakia’s turn to become the recipient of Zionist attentions.
An Extortionist’s Dream
Croatia was easily forced into recognizing cooperation in a crime it could have never committed. Imagine how much easier would be Israel’s task while dealing with the Republic of Slovakia. Between 1918 and 1993, Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia, with the exception of a period related to WWII.
After Soviet Communism and its Warsaw Pact collapsed, the Slovak and the Czech republics split on January 1, 1993, in an event that is sometimes called the Velvet Divorce. Slovakia became a member of NATO on 29 March 2004 and of the European Union in May 2004. In January 2009, Slovakia adopted the Euro as its national currency. Unlike in Croatia, Israel arrived at Slovakia too late to put pressure along these fracture lines.
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico — Extortion Graffitti
Slovakia’s relationship with Israel cannot be analyzed without considering a third wheel. The Czech Republic had an exceptionally close relation with Israel. Following the annexation of the Sudetenland, in the Czech part of Czecho-Slovakia, and the independence of Slovakia, most of what today is Czech Republic became the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The anti-German feelings of its population were so strong that, after the war, Czechoslovakia was one of the 33 countries that voted in favour of the 1947 UN partition resolution.
The Czech Republic was among the first countries to recognise the State of Israel, just four days after its independence declaration. It became one of the most decisive weapons suppliers to the young state, as well as the main trainer to Israeli pilots in the following years. Before the establishment of the state, the UK had filled this role. In December 2008, the Czech Air Force, part of the Western occupation forces in Afghanistan, needed to train in desert conditions; Israel saw it as an opportunity to thank the Czechs, who subsequently trained in the Negev Desert.
Considering this, it is easier to understand why Slovakia enjoys good relations with Israel. Its post-Communist regime is aware of how easy would be for Israel to attack the country’s past (allow me to repeat: the only country to pay Nazi authorities to deport its Jews). It wildly represses all uncomfortable mentions of this past as well as critics against Israel. The large picture above shows graffiti on a poster placed by the Prime Minister’s party. It tells the entire story, it shows the people’s position, the government position, and its oppression of the people.
Nowadays, the Slovakia-Israel relations are being developed through the Israel-Slovakia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and through the revival of cultural relations. Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava, was where Hatam Sofer (Yiddish transliterations of the name often opt for the misleading Chasam Sofer) lived and work. He was one of the leading Orthodox rabbis in Europe during the first half of the 19th century and is still considered an authority. Before getting their title, Israeli rabbis must prove competence in his writings. This last topic brings us to Passover 2013.
During the weekend of March 23 and 24, 2013, a large group of rabbis from Central Europe and EJA (the Union of Jewish Organizations in the European Union) visited Bratislava and met with Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič and Prime Minister Robert Fico. During the meeting, the latter said: “Hatam Sofer transformed Bratislava into the international capital of Jewish education, and thus made a significant contribution to Slovak culture.” Should I comment on the logical contradiction he uttered? I trust it is obvious enough to skip it.
He also emphasized the importance of keeping and restoring Jewish sites in the city. The opportunity was used to remind the rabbis that he had been part of the movement that passed the law defining September 9 as a national remembrance for the Holocaust of European Jewry. Later, at the Presidential Palace, Mr. Gašparovič stated that a worldwide war against anti-Semitism is essential (Will it replace the War on Terror?). He ended his speech claiming that the visit was the opening of a new page in the relations of European Jews with Slovakia (Did he mean that next time Slovakia won’t pay?).
The rabbis answer was magnificent in its subtle directness. They explained the Slovak rulers the symbolism and importance of Passover and then gave each one of them a gift. The gifts were identical, including “matza” (unleavened bread consumed during Passover) and rather heavy silver jewelry shaped as a hand. Is a symbolic silver hand clear enough? How is your industry advancing, Mr. Fico?