Antisemitic incidents increase by 9.5% in Austria, according to latest IKG report
There were 550 antisemitic incidents in Austria in 2019, according to a report issued by the Jewish Community of Vienna (IKG), the country’s EJC affiliate, in cooperation with the Forum against Antisemitism (FgA). This constitutes an increase of 9.5% in relation to the last report available report, which was issued in 2017.
Among the 550 incidents there were 6 physical assaults, 18 instances of threats, 78 instances of damage and desecration of Jewish property, 209 instances of mass-produced antisemitic literature and 239 instances of abusive behaviour. While the number of physical assaults and threats saw a decrease, the number of attacks on property increased by over 50%.
“Jewish life is an integral part of Austria and most of our fellow citizens know this”, said IKG President Oskar Deutsch, “unfortunately, there is an increasing number of people in Austria who stir up antisemitism and who engage in antisemitic acts.”
“On the one hand, Vienna is a thriving city for Jews, and the good cooperation with the police, the interior Ministry and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution contribute to a high level of security, together with the security measures put in place by the community. However, law enforcement cannot be everywhere at all times. Our society should strive to ensure that one day these security measures are not necessary. Unfortunately, we are very far away from this objective today,” Mr. Deutsch added.
In order to facilitate international comparison, the report relies on the IHRA working definition of antisemitism ans uses same categories of antisemitic incidents that are used by the CST in the UK and RIAS in Germany.
“For the first time, this convergence with international standards enables meaningful comparison to other reports and an even closer exchange with Jewish communities across Europe as well as with the EU institutions,” said IKG General Secretary Benjamin Nägele. “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.”
Regarding ideological motivation, 268 incidents were attributed to the right-wing extremists while 31 incidents were attributed to persons affiliated with radical Islam and 25 incidents were attributed to far left extremists. Far-right motivated incidents featured predominantly in the categories of property damage and abusive behaviour, as was the case with radical Islamist motivation regarding physical assaults and threats. In addition, the ideological motivation of 226 out of 550 incidents could not be attributed.
The IKG emphasised that fighting antisemitism is in the interest of the entire country and the European Union. In this context, the community is hopeful about recent initiatives by the Austrian government. “We, as the Jewish community, can make a valuable contribution to combatting antisemitism, but we cannot take on this fight alone,” Mr. Deutsch concluded.