Holistic Approach Needed to Fight Upswing in Austrian Anti-Semitism
June 3, 2020
Anti-semitism in on the rise in Austria, according to a recent report by the Jewish Community of Vienna(IKG). Antisemitic incidents have increased by 9.5% since 2017, numbering 550 reported cases in 2019.
The cases reported in 2019 included physical assaults, threats, damage and desecration of Jewish property, mass-produced antisemitic literature, and abusive behavior. The most frequent reported incidents were abusive behavior. Reports in physical assaults and threats decreased, while assaults on Jewish property increased by over 50%.
In a recent article by JPost it was posited that the attacks varied in motive. Right-wing extremism, far-left extremism, and radical Islam explain a few of the motives of several perpetrators. Yet, 220 of the incidents have no clear explanation or ideological alignment.
Jewish life has been integral to Austria since the time of the Roman Empire. At its peak in the early 1930s, there were 180,000 Jews in Vienna alone, accounting for 10% of its population. Today 15,000 Jews live in Austria. The population primarily includes Holocaust survivors and their decendants, returning Austrian expatriates, and Eastern European refugees.
The rise of anti-semitism in Austria is in no way isolated. Anti-semitism is rapidly growing throughout Europe and the increasing presence of right-wing extremism is fundamental to explain these trends. Germany recently reported its highest rate of antisemitic attacks since 2001. Their number of crimes in 2019 increased by 13% from 2018.
The IKG believes these recent reports should incite a more unified and strong approach to combatting anti-semitism. General Secretary Benjamin Nagele shared that “this report must act as an additional incentive to develop a holistic national and European strategy against antisemitism and to proceed swiftly to implementation. We cannot waste any more time”
Additionally, IKG President Oskar Duetch seconded the need for a collective response by stating that “the fight against antisemitism is not a Jewish task alone, but rather a task for society as a whole. The findings of 2019 show us that the time to act has really come.”