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May 24, 2016 11:01 pm

European Jewish Leaders Express Relief Over Narrow Loss of Far-Right Candidate in Austrian Elections

avatar by Lea Speyer

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Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party was narrowly defeated in the recent presidential election in Austria. Photo: Wikipedia.

Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party was narrowly defeated in the recent presidential election in Austria. Photo: Wikipedia.

European Jewish leaders expressed their relief on Tuesday after the narrow loss of the far-right candidate in Austria’s presidential elections earlier in the week.

Oskar Deutsch, head of Vienna’s Jewish community, praised the country’s incoming president, independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, as “a good friend for many years to the Jewish community and a very good friend to the state of Israel,” the JTA reported on Monday.

Ven der Bellen — a Green Party politician who ran as an independent — narrowly defeated Norbert Hofer of the country’s Freedom Party (FPO) in a runoff on Sunday, garnering 50.3 percent of the vote to Hofer’s 49.7 percent. While the FPO has been linked to the neo-Nazi movement, it’s an accusation which the party denies. Hofer campaigned against migrants and “Islamisation” and sought lower taxes and increased gun rights. Voter turnout was high at 71.8 percent of 6.4 million eligible voters.

“I am very happy that on the one hand he won, and on the other hand I am very happy that the other candidate did not win,” Deutsch said of Ven der Bellen’s success. “There are a lot of people in [Hofer’s] party who were and are very near to antisemitism and are often using antisemitic [expressions]. All’s well that ends well.”

The President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, said the election results are “a clear sign that Europe is beginning to realize that hate and fear politics are not the answer to the many challenges we are facing as a continent.”

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), said in a statement on Monday that the small margin by which Van der Bellen won shows just how many in Austria still support the far-right. “While we are certainly satisfied with the result, there is little room to celebrate the high level of support for someone with such extremist views as Norbert Hofer. Unfortunately, the dissatisfaction with the moderate mainstream parties is providing oxygen to those like Hofer [and the FPO],” he said.

Kantor warned that far-right, nationalist parties are growing in popularity across Europe, “so it is incumbent on the more centrist parties to use this as a wake-up call and listen to the grievances of the people.”

According to the EJC, there are approximately 15,000 Jews in Austria today, with a majority living in Vienna.

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  • stevenl

    Caught between a rock and a hard place, the European Jews do not look for a 3rd option!
    The “far right” is bad but will not associate herself with Islamism while the left de-facto supports Islam.
    Sarkozy had the opportunity to show leadership but rather looked for his personal interest! He pushed many centrists and moderate towards the left and far right.
    Smart politicians from left and right can easily be coopted by CENTRIST Jews.
    Jews SHOULD be centrist!!!

  • enufizenuf

    I see that European Jews are as deluded as are American Jews. They vote their ideals, not for what’s in their best interest, as Daniel Greenfield has written. G-d forbid they should vote for a political party which might oppose islamization!

    • Eric R.

      I despise the left as much as you do and I am a staunch Republican, but if these ultranationalist groups like AfD and the FN come to power, they will ban shechitah and brit mila.

      Which means no matter who wins, Jews lose.

  • nat cheiman

    This will be short lived because the far right are now concerned with the migrant problem. The “jewish problem”will come later.
    Have no doubt’that the far right will be in power soon

  • Eric R.

    Do these Jewish “leaders” believe the far-left Greens are any less Jew-hating?

    If anything, they are more dangerous, since as radical leftists they get to propagate their Jew-hatred in academia and in the new media.

    Finally, there is nothing “far-right” about these groups. Rightists believe in less government, empowerment and responsibility of the individual, and free market capitalism. These ultra-nationalist groups are as allergic to those concepts as are Marxists. That is why they are called “National” Socialists.

  • brenrod

    delusional jews believing that they can support the flood of muslims into europe and survive. The left and the muslims already hate the jews. The sensible common fear and hate of the muslim political military domination cult was bringing the right to reconciliation with the Jews. But now the Jews will be identified as traitors funding the flood of rapist criminal muslims. Jewish leadership advised poorly pre shoah also. Survival is first.

  • roberto


  • Wlodek Gdanski

    It seems to me, that the leaders of European Jewish communities, to use Abba Ebans words about Arabs, never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, where with the “opportunity” I mean an opportunity to keep the mouth shut. They tend to take political stance where they should rather keep low profile. This endangers European Jewry putting it i a “no win situation”.

  • Jake

    These F….idiots Jews hope for more Muslims into Austria ?
    They are released to see a Green Leftist hostile group at the Power than the only ones (Strache) declaring their opposition to any labelings on israeli products…?????!!!
    Amazing Jews! the smartest people in the World…!?
    They are like grand grand parents who dug their graves themselves in Ole Polish Empire. (Russian occupied territories!.)