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Concern grows in Austria over rise in anti-Semitic acts

Concern grows in Austria over rise in anti-Semitic acts
People wave Palestinian flags and shout slogans in support of Palestine during a Pro-Palestinian demonstration outside the Chancellery in Vienna, Austria on October 15, 2023. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The aftereffects of the Hamas’ October 7th attacks on Israel and the Israeli counterattack on Gaza have been felt around the world, including on the streets of Austria, where there has been a significant rise in cases of antisemitism.

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There were 76 verified cases of antisemitism registered in the 12 days after Hamas’ massacre, three times the amount in the same period the previous year, according to a special survey by the Jewish Community of Vienna (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde – IKG - Wien).

It can be assumed that there were a high number of unreported cases too.

Some examples given were the throwing of a brick through the window of a kosher bakery, when a young man shouted a phrase in Arabic and ran away, as well as three cases of Jewish school children being bullied by those who glorified Hamas’ attack, and glorification of the Holocaust online.

An Israeli flag was ripped off of the IKG by a group of young people on Saturday night.

The IKG also functions as a synagogue. A video of this attack was posted on social media over the weekend.

“We will not let ourselves be defeated,” declared president of the community Oskar Deutsch. The community is resisting these worrying developments through its own security work, cooperation with police and other authorities, but also by continuing everyday life in Jewish schools, synagogues and other Jewish institutions as well as by planning further youth and cultural events.

The IKG recommend reporting any cases to their “Meldestelle” (reporting point) and to the police. “Every person reporting receives free advice and decides for themselves what further steps to take” explains secretary general Benjamin Nägele.

However, it should be noted that antisemitism in Austria is far from exclusively linked to the Israel Palestine conflict or migrants from Arabic countries. 

One-third of Austrians believe Jews tried to 'take advantage' of the Nazi era, with anti-semitism coming "from the centre of Austrian society", the third national antisemitism report by Austria's National Council revealed in April.

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The report by the Institute for Empirical Social Research (Ifes)conducted 2000 representative telephone interviews and found that 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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