Austria’s New Leader Sebastian Kurz Vows ‘Zero Tolerance’ on Antisemitism
JNS.org – Austria’s newly elected leader, Sebastian Kurz, has vowed a zero tolerance policy on antisemitism in his governing coalition, seeking to quell fears over a right-wing government that could include a far-right party with Nazi sympathies.
“The battle against antisemitism and our policy of zero tolerance against all antisemitic tendencies is very important to me,” Kurz told Israel Hayom. “It is a clear precondition for the formation of any coalition under my leadership.”
“I have always been very clear that we — and that very much includes the new Austrian generation — shall never forget the Holocaust and the atrocities committed during World War II,” Kurz said. “Austria has to face up to its own history, and that includes the dark sides of it.”
Kurz’s People’s Party won 31 percent of the vote on Sunday, with the populist far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) coming in third with 26 percent. Reports suggest Kurz is in talks with FPÖ about forming a governing coalition.
Founded by ex-Nazis in the 1950s, FPÖ was previously in a governing coalition in 2000, which prompted Israel to suspend relations with Austria.
The far-right party is “still full of xenophobes and racists and is, mildly put, very ambiguous toward Austria’s Nazi past,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement this week following the election.
Yet in recent years, the party has attempted to soften its image, with FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache visiting the Jewish state in 2016.
For his part, Kurz has vowed to deepen relations with Israel as chancellor.