At the plenary assembly of the World Jewish Congress, the President of the European Commission presents the EU strategy to fight anti-Semitism
Austrian Minister for European Affairs Karoline Edtstadler (Photo) underlined Austria’s responsibility in the fight against anti-Semitism, whether it comes from the far right, the left, immigrants or anyone else, written Yossi Lempkowicz.
The strategy presented is based on six pillars: education, security, law enforcement, integration, documentation and civil society.
The Austrian government presented its anti-Semitism strategy on January 21, which includes stronger protection of synagogues, better education in Judaism and stricter prosecutions of hate crimes against Jews.
Austrian Minister for European Affairs Karoline Edtstadler underlined Austria’s responsibility in the fight against anti-Semitism, whether it comes from the far right, the left, immigrants or anyone else .
The new measures aim to tackle anti-Semitism in all its forms and wherever it is expressed – from online discussion groups to hate speech in local bars or expressions of hatred against Jews at public demonstrations such as than current rallies against coronavirus regulation, Edtstadler said.
During the Austrian Presidency of the Council in 2018, EU interior ministers adopted a joint declaration against anti-Semitism which, among other things, obliges states to develop national strategies. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for a European declaration to ensure a clear and unambiguous stance against anti-Semitism.
The strategy presented is based on six pillars: education, security, law enforcement, integration, documentation and civil society. A total of 38 concrete measures were announced, such as the creation of a separate documentation center for anti-Semitic incidents and a new staff unit to coordinate the fight against anti-Semitism. The Austrian also wants to work more closely at European level, for example by making incident data comparable, as the EU statement also called for.
This strategy is âa milestone in the fight against anti-Semitism,â Karoline Edtstadler said during the presentation. âWe need to protect Jewish life and make it visible. May he succeed.
At the same press conference, Oskar Deutsch, president of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, the Jewish community of Vienna, thanked the minister for her work. âThe best answer to anti-Semitism is Jewish life,â he said. “But political plans must now be filled with life,” he added.
Katharina von Schnurbein, coordinator of the European Commission for the fight against anti-Semitism and the promotion of Jewish life, welcomed the announcement of the Austrian strategy and welcomed the fact that the Austrian documentation center will guarantee the collection of comparable data across Europe.
The strategy is “ambitious,” said von Schnurbein.
Anti-Semitic incidents are increasing across Europe, including Austria. During the Corona protests, one can see banners with anti-Semitic symbols. Last August, the president of the Jewish community in Graz survived an attack. The anti-Semitic backdrop to the terrorist attack in Vienna in November has yet to be officially confirmed, but the author’s first shots targeted the synagogue in the Jewish city. This is probably one of the reasons why the Austrian government triples its investments in the protection of Jewish institutions to four million euros.
“Jews are always the first to be affected by discrimination,” Deutsch warned, adding that the fight against anti-Semitism must be an effort of the whole of society, not just the Jewish community.
In 2019, Austria recorded 550 anti-Semitic incidents, Edtstadler said.
“This is twice as many as five years ago,” she added.