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REVEALED: Just how widespread is anti-Semitism in Austria?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
REVEALED: Just how widespread is anti-Semitism in Austria?
An Austrian flag flies next to one of the EU. Photo: ODD ANDERSEN / AFP

One-third of Austrians believe Jews tried to 'take advantage' of the Nazi era, with anti-semitism coming "from the centre of Austrian society", a new report revealed on Tuesday.

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Austria's National Council has presented its third anti-Semitism report commissioned by parliament and carried out by the Institute for Empirical Social Research (Ifes).

The research has collected data on anti-Semitic attitudes in Austria, covering conspiracy theories about Holocaust-related anti-Semitism. "Anti-Semitism is not a phenomenon of the political fringes, but it comes from the centre of society", said National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP) as he presented the results of the report on Tuesday morning.

He added: "On the fringes, it becomes visible; on the right-wing edges, we've seen it for years and decades; on the left-wing fringes, we haven't paid attention for a long time. 

"Now, we see it very clearly as anti-Israelism and anti-Zionism. In the third form, we see it among those people who have come to us for migration reasons because they come from countries where anti-Semitism or anti-Jewish attitudes are almost part of the state's reason of existing (Staatsräson)."

READ ALSO: Austrian Jews call for investigation into far-right leader for comparing Covid measures to the Holocaust

The anti-Semitism report

For the Austria-representative survey, 2,000 interviews were conducted by telephone and online with people aged 16 and older. This year, a particular focus was placed on the group of people under 25 (400 participants). 

In addition, there were more than 900 respondents from the so-called "main" group with a family history of migration - half of whom have a connection to Turkey or an Arabic-speaking country such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq.

However, most of them were born, grew up and went to school in Austria, despite their foreign roots.

The report concluded that the migration history group "consistently displays a much stronger anti-Semitic attitude than the Austrian population as a whole". 

But the "Austrian population as a whole" also presented concerning views.

READ ALSO: Muslims and black people discriminated against in Austria, new report reveals

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Anti-Semitism in Austria

More of a third of people in Austria believe that Jews today try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era - a quarter of those under 25 also believe this. This perception is even more widespread among Turkish and Arabic-speaking survey participants; this statement applies to more than half of them.

The situation is similar with various conspiracy myths. For example, over a third of the country believes Jews dominate the international business world. In contrast, the majority of migrant-background groups see it this way. The latter also shows significantly stronger approval ratings for statements such as "Jews have too much influence in Austria" (47 percent) or "Jewish elites in international corporations are often behind current price increases" (43 percent).

The reaction to the following sentence was also striking: "I am against the fact that people keep rehashing the fact that Jews died in the Second World War". 

A third of the population in Austria again feels this way, the survey showed.

Once again, this assumption is particularly pronounced in the group with a family history of migration (49 percent).

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In the Turkish and Arab-speaking group, 40 percent also believe that "a lot of things are exaggerated" in reports about concentration camps and the persecution of Jews during World War II. Across Austria (11 percent) and among the under-25s (16 percent), this view is much less pronounced - but still present.

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Almost 40 percent of the Turkish- and Arabic-speaking participants also think: "It's not just a coincidence that Jews have been persecuted so often in their history; they are at least partly to blame themselves." Across Austria and among the under-25s, one-fifth of each sees it that way.

The responses to the Israel-related statements in the report are also noteworthy. Almost half of the migrant-specific group agreed with the statement, "If the state of Israel no longer existed, then there would be peace in the Middle East". Just under a quarter of those under 25 also agreed. 

READ ALSO: Austria improves nationality law for descendants of Nazi victims

The statement "the Israelis basically treat the Palestinians no differently than the Germans treated the Jews during World War II" is agreed by more than half of the Turkish and Arabic speakers, but also by almost a third throughout Austria and among the under-25s.

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