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March 13, 2024 1:01 pm

Austria Reports Record Number of Antisemitic Incidents in Wake of Oct. 7 Hamas Pogrom

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avatar by Ben Cohen

A pro-Hamas demonstration in Vienna. Photo: Reuters/Andreas Stroh

Austria reported a record number of antisemitic incidents in 2023, with the vast majority occurring after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, according to data released on Wednesday by the IKG, the central European country’s Jewish representative organization.

A total of 1,147 incidents came to light, in the worst year for antisemitism in Austria since the IKG began keeping records in 2008. The number represented a 60 percent increase on the previous year’s total of 719 incidents. It also eclipsed the 965 incidents reported in 2021, the previous record.

The breakdown of the incidents revealed that before the Hamas onslaught, an average of 1.55 incidents was reported daily compared with 1.97 in 2022. However, in the wake of the massacre in southern Israel of over 1,200 people, the kidnapping of more than 200, and numerous reports of mass rape and other atrocities, that number leapt to 8.31 incidents reported daily — a fivefold increase.

Speaking to local media outlets, IKG president Oskar Deutsch said the “light had been extinguished” within Austria’s Jewish community, which numbers just over 10,000 according to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

Benjamin Nägele, the IKG’s secretary-general, said that the data included 18 physical assaults, as well as several instances of vandalism, verbal abuse, and online antisemitism.

In one incident, a group of young Jews walking in the street in Vienna were abused by passengers in a passing car, who yelled “Free Palestine” and attempted to assault them. Nägele said that the intervention of witnesses, who threatened to call the police, prevented a serious attack.

The data marked the first time that the number of antisemitic incidents in one year came in above 1,000.

Deutsch underlined that the number was “horrific.”

“We are dealing with an unprecedented explosion of antisemitic incidents,” he said. “Antisemitism begins with thoughts, is then put into words, and then it goes into practice. Antisemitism does not begin with the gas chamber.”

The upward trend in antisemitic incidents in Austria is in keeping with the situation faced by Jewish communities elsewhere in Europe, where three- and sometimes four-figure percentage increases have been registered since Oct. 7.

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