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August 17, 2018
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Commentary: By honoring Zeman, US Jewish organization is promoting the fascisization of Czech society

25.9.2017 9:57
Adam B. Bartoš (right), chair of the ultra-right National Democracy party, is a convicted extremist and infamous antisemite, photographed here at an assembly in support of Czech President Miloš Zeman (PHOTO:  Vít Hassan)
Adam B. Bartoš (right), chair of the ultra-right National Democracy party, is a convicted extremist and infamous antisemite, photographed here at an assembly in support of Czech President Miloš Zeman (PHOTO: Vít Hassan)

It is always sad when educated, intelligent people lose their judgment thanks to the larger atmosphere in which they operate. A Jewish organization based in the USA has recently given Czech President Miloš Zeman an award calling him a "Warrior for Truth".

The organization said Zeman deserves the award for his long-term support for the state of Israel and Jews. It seems that these particular Jews, based in New York, must have inclinations to populism and xenophobia themselves, as that is what Zeman really takes a gold medal in.

This is the fourth time the Gershon Jacobson Jewish Continuity Foundation (GJCF) has issued this award. The foundation is named after Gershon Jacobson, the founder of a weekly called "The Algemeiner" (originally in Yiddish), and its aim is to express appreciation for figures who defend Jewish interests - two years ago the award was given to the then-real estate magnate and current President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

A big celebration

This fourth award also involved a big celebration. Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, felt it necessary to praise Zeman to the heavens:  "President Miloš Zeman is a world leader who follows his principles, a man who is not just able to tell the difference between good and evil, but who has never been afraid to say so."

Simon Jacobson, publisher of the Algemeiner weekly, explained to Czech Television what kind of person receives this award:  Somebody who "does not let himself be intimidated, who stands up to terrorism, who stands for the values that the Algemeiner also stands for. A voice of truth and bravery. Mr Zeman is that kind of person."

Lauder is known in the Czech Republic thanks to two different actions, one negative and one positive. His negative action was to bring to the Czech Republic, through the private TV NOVA television channel, the worst specimens of American pop culture, superficial hodgepodges that have nothing to do with anything remotely resembling art.

If anything has made a big contribution to the fact that people here have forgotten how to think, it has been and still is NOVA. Lauder preferred to attempt to make as much money as possible instead of preferring high-quality broadcasting, not exactly a sympathetic feature.

His positive contribution, perhaps to at least partially correct the negative one, is that he has founded a school in Prague that is considered very high-quality. In any event, Lauder, thanks to his activities, should know the Czech Republic and therefore should also know what kind of politics this alleged "world leader who follows his principles" is engaged in.

I do not know whether this information ever made it to Lauder himself or to the members of the foundation, but Zeman is a liar who has actually lost many lawsuits over his public comments. Before giving an award called "Warrior for Truth", such matters should of course be verified.

Gangster and secret police methods

This Jewish organization based in New York has given this award not just to a liar, but also to a person who has (re)introduced gangster methods into Czech politics, as well as the methods of the Czechoslovak communist political police (the State Security - StB). At the close of the 1990s, prior to forming a cabinet, Zeman concluded an agreement with the opposition political party, the Civic Democrats (ODS), to the effect that ODS would uphold Zeman's minority cabinet in power throughout the entire term, which meant that de facto there was no opposition in the democratic Parliament and the Government had free reign to do whatever it wanted.

Thanks to that arrangement, the following negative phenomena also permeated Czech politics:

Gangster methods: The murder for hire of a journalist by Karel Srba, the secretary to then-Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who got that post through Zeman's chief advisot, Miroslav Šlouf.

StB methods: A campaign called "Olovo" ("Lead") was developed by one of Zeman's advisors to discredit Petra Buzková, then a member of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) and a minister, as well as another campaign against a former minister, Zieleniec, attempting to produce compromising material or deceptive testimony against him.

Anti-democracy campaign: ČSSD and ODS wanted, through a new electoral law, to destroy the political parties who were their competitors, and their power-sharing was accompanied by massive corruption, clientelism, and the closure of police investigations into political scandals. Before he took office as Prime Minister, Zeman traveled to Bamberg, Germany, where he wanted to acquire compromising materials about the opposition by giving those who (allegedly) had such materials ministerial posts in the Czech Government in exchange for the information. He also made false accusations against other politicians, alleging they had abused the secret service.

Zeman began to brandish the "Jewish card" and support for Israel only when it was necessary to win votes and finally become Prime Minster. As President, his more recent verbal assaults on refugees (and not just Muslim ones) or against Romani people have mainly won him the support of Czech chauvinists and extremists.

Legitimizing fascisization

It is no accident that Zeman has been supported by the Klaus family, who are known for their nationalism, and by the neo-Nazi Workers Social Justice Party (DSSS), infamous for their contacts to German neo-Nazis. The ultra-right "Akce D.O.S.T." movement also de facto stood behind both Klaus and Zeman.

The fact that Zeman has also been supported by the extreme left and its pre-1989 fighter Miroslav Štěpán (Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) well illustrates how far he is able and willing to go with his lies, populism and xenphobia. Among other matters, as Czech President he had no problem sharing a podium with representatives of the ultra-right during a celebration of the creation of the democratic state.

Zeman's verbal assaults on refugees fleeing war and his lies about them have become an obsession of his. He belongs among those politicians who are aiding the ultra-right with the fascisization of Czech society.

Any support of Zeman from abroad legitimizes and strengthens that fascisization. Historical experience tells us, moreover, that the awakening of hatred against groups of different people (refugees, Roma) will also turn, sooner or later, against Jews, because they too are considered different, other, out of the ordinary by part of society here.

Antisemitism, in order to revive, basically doesn't even need any actual Jews around. It is sad that this Jewish organization in the USA is unaware of that, and it is alarming that some European Jews whose families fell victim to the Holocaust also do not realize this.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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