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May 15, 2023 9:15 am

Record Number of Violent Antisemitic Attacks Recorded in Austria in 2022

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Austrian police face off against far-right protestors in the city of Innsbruck, during a Jan. 2022 demonstration against COVID-19 vaccinations. Photo: Reuters/Alexander Pohl/Sipa USA

The number of violent antisemitic attacks in Austria increased during 2022, according to the annual report of the Vienna Jewish Community (IKG) released on Monday.

A total of 719 antisemitic incidents were recorded, which included 14 physical assaults  — an increase on the 12 assaults reported in 2021, the year that holds the record for the most antisemitic outrages in Austria.

While there was a slight decrease in the overall number of incidents compared with the previous year, the spike in assaults has boosted concern among elected politicians. Wolfgang Sobotka — the president of Austria’s National Council from the center-right ÖVP Party — said that the increase represented not only “a danger for Jews, but for the entire democracy and our European values,” while Eva Blimlinger, the spokeswoman for the opposition Greens, warned that the “increase in violence against children and young people must particularly shake us up and leaves trauma in its wake.”

As well as a record number of violent episodes, 21 threats were also reported, along with 122 instances of property damage, 140 mass mailings and 422 incidents of abusive behavior. According to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) think-tank, just over 10,000 Jews currently live in Austria.

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While many of the violent attacks were attributed to young Muslims, only nine percent of the total number of incidents were committed by Muslim offenders, according to the IKG. The majority of attacks — 55 percent — were attributed to the extreme right and a further 20 percent to the far left. “Every antisemitic incident is one antisemitic incident too many, and I really don’t give a damn where it comes from,” Oskar Deutsch, the president of the IKG, told news outlet Die Presse.

Deutsch stressed that the IKG’s data was only a partial depiction of the present state of antisemitism in Austria, with the number of unreported cases likely to be much higher.

Austria’s government recently launched its National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism, with a special emphasis on education. Last month, a report on antisemitic attitudes commissioned by the Austrian parliament revealed what one Jewish leader called “frightening” levels of anti-Jewish hostility within the general population. The report found that 15 percent of respondents manifested “severe” antisemitic attitudes, endorsing classic antisemitic stereotypes, denying the truth of the Holocaust or blaming Jews for their own persecution. A further 32 percent expressed “latent” attitudes, for example the belief that Israel’s elimination would result in peace in the Middle East.

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