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    Austria Summons Diplomat From Israel Over 'Nazi' T-Shirt

    © AFP 2018 / JOE KLAMAR
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    This is not the first episode involving the attaché, who has been summoned by Austria's Foreign Ministry, as he had previously posted a photo of his grandfather in a Nazi uniform with a swastika on social media.

    Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl has summoned Juergen-Michael Kleppich, an attaché from the country's embassy in Israel, "to clarify the circumstances and to submit to a legal probe into the accusations in the media," the ministry's spokesman Thomas Schnoll said.

    READ MORE: New Austrian Foreign Minister Denies Comparing Zionism With Nazism

    The Falker newspaper reported that Kleppich posted a photo on his Facebook page showing him in a green shirt with the words "Stand your ground" and "Frundsberg," the last name of a 15th century mercenary who was used as a symbol by the Nazis for the 10th SS Panzer division.

    The T-shirt can be bought at Phalanx Europa, an online shop that sells "patriotic" garment for supporters of the nativist Identitarian movement.

    "We know about the case only from the media. We do not have any additional information," the Austrian Embassy in Tel Aviv told the APA news agency, responding to a question on Kleppich's social media activities.

    Sabine Schatz, a lawmaker from the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPO), called for taking measures against the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), of which Kleppich is a member. "Austria's international reputation is at stake," Schatz added.

    Kleppich, who is also an FPO local councilor in a district of Vienna, had already been involved in a similar scandal after he posted a photo of his grandfather in a Nazi uniform with a swastika.

    The FPO, founded by in the 1950s by former SS officer Anton Reinthaller, has long been seeking to clean up its image and describes itself as the representative of national liberal values, rejecting racism and extremism. Nevertheless, the party still gets embroiled in scandals from time to time, with the latest debacle erupting after an FPO candidate had to quit from state elections as his student fraternity turned out to have published a songbook with lyrics praising the Holocaust.

    In January, Israeli media slammed Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl (FPO) for having described early Zionism in her 2014 book "My Middle East" as a "blood-and-soil ideology based on German nationalism." Kneissl stressed that she and the new Austrian government are and remain committed to Israel as a Jewish state and to the two-state solution, where Israel and Palestine live side by side, in peace and prosperity. She also said that neither the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO), which nominated her for the ministerial position, nor FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache have anti-Semitic inclinations.

    Strache has visited Israel several times and supports the idea to move the Austrian embassy to Jerusalem, after US President Donald Trump ordered the US diplomatic mission to do so.

    The People's Party (OVP), headed by incumbent Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and the FPO, chaired by now Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, together form a coalition government in the country.

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    Nazi, t-shirt, diplomat, Austria
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