Coonan attends fascist bash

A wee tip to Senator Coonan – if David “Taliban” Clarke invites you out for a night on the town… don’t bloody go. Jeez, it’s not rocket science.

From the AJN:

Coonan appearance at Croatian function causes furore
Jason Frenkel

THE Howard Government has been embarrassed by the appearance of a cabinet minister at a Croatian independence function linked to a murderous neo-Nazi regime.

Jewish groups are outraged at Communications Minister Helen Coonan’s attendance at the Sydney commemoration earlier this month, which marked Croatia’s independence following the fascist Ustase regime’s rise to power during World War II.

Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and NSW Upper House MP David Clarke were also guests at the April 10 event, held at the Croatian Club in Punchbowl.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (NSWJBD) CEO Vic Alhadeff described the celebration as “offensive� to Australians, while it is understood Croatian embassy officials are also angered at the involvement of a senior government minister.

Alhadeff this week voiced his concern to Senator Coonan’s office on behalf of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the NSWJBD.

“The function celebrated Hitler’s establishment of the Nazi state of Croatia,� Alhadeff claimed.

“This is the state that supported the Jasenovac extermination camp, where hundreds of thousands of people were murdered, including 60,000 Jews,� Alhadeff said.

“It is very troubling that such a brutal regime still finds support in democratic Australia.�

The Ustase regime proclaimed the Independent State of Croatia in early April 1941, after coming to power following the invasion of Axis forces.

It began building concentration camps almost immediately and implemented racial laws targeting Serbs, Jews and gypsies.

Estimates on the number of people killed at the Jasenovac concentration camp vary, but the Simon Weisenthal Centre says Ustase killed approximately half-a-million Serbs before its defeat and expulsion in 1945.

The camp’s victims were commemorated at a special tribute held at Jasenovac this week.

Senator Coonan led a high-powered trade delegation to Israel last November on behalf of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, while Senator Fierravanti-Wells has been one of the Coalition’s most outspoken critics of anti-Israel media bias at the ABC and SBS.

A spokeswoman for Senator Coonan was unavailable for comment, although it is understood the minister was unaware of the Ustase link.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells did not return calls to the AJN.

David Clarke is a right-wing Liberal powerbroker who, two years ago, denied exploiting antisemitic sentiments among Muslims and Croats in a bid to recruit new members to the NSW Liberals.

He attended a similar Croatian independence function in April 2005, but when confronted at the time by the AJN, Clarke claimed ignorance of the Ustase link and said it was “not my understanding that it would be an Ustase sort of function�.

Organised by the Croatian Intercommittee Council for NSW, this year’s event was described in the official bulletin of the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW as a “Croatian independence celebration�.

News brief · 26 April 2007