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Austria Experienced Unprecedented Surge of Antisemitism in First Half of 2021, New Data Shows

An anti-Israel demonstration in Vienna, Austria, May 13, 2021.

September 13, 2021

The number of reported antisemitic incidents in Austria in the first half of 2021 more than doubled from the same time period the previous year, according to data compiled by the Jewish Community of Vienna (IKG).

From the start of January until the end of June, a total of 562 antisemitic incidents were reported in Austria — a 118 percent increase from the first six months of 2020, which was a record year for antisemitism in the country. Of these, 331 were categorized as “harmful behavior,” 154 as “mass mailings,” 58 as “damaged property,” 11 as “threats,” and eight as “physical attacks.”

Broken down by ideological motive, 244 were classified as “Right-wing,” 100 as “Left-wing,” 71 as “Muslim,” and 147 as “Not assignable.”

The Jewish Community of Vienna noted this marked the highest number of reported antisemitic incidents in Austria since systematic monitoring began two decades ago.

Some examples of incidents that took place earlier this year include: stones thrown at a Jewish family in a Vienna park; antisemitic death threats chanted in Arabic at an anti-Israel rally in the Austrian capital; the physical and verbal harassment of a group of four Jewish girls by peers of their age; and the defacement of posters at the Vienna Jewish Museum.

Protests against Covid-19 health measures also featured explicit antisemitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories, as well as Holocaust relativization.

“The staggering number of cases reveals the reality many members of our community are facing every day,” Oskar Deutsch — president of the Jewish Community of Vienna — was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying.

“The latest rise in antisemitic incidents was driven by two factors: anti-Israel agitation and conspiracy theories in the context of the current pandemic,” he added. “All parts of society in Europe must understand that antisemitism is a threat to democracy as a whole and that everybody needs to fight it before antisemitic words turn into antisemitic action.”

“Austrian Jews rely on highly professional security measures by our community’s security staff, police and army,” Deutsch noted. “This unique cooperation serves as a best-practice example for Jewish communities all over Europe. However, there‘s still a lot of work to be done.”

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told Der Standard, “The pandemic has led to a radicalization at the margins of society. Since the start of the pandemic, crude conspiracy theories are frequently merging with antisemitic attitudes and manifest themselves in anti-democratic behavior.”

An estimated 8,000-15,000 Jews live in Austria today, down from a pre-Holocaust population of more than 200,000.

The full Jewish Community of Vienna report can be viewed here.