Hundreds of young people hit the deck in three major squares in Vienna on July 24. No, they weren’t part of one of the popular anti-Israel “die-in” protests found in major cities around the globe. These youth were face down in support of Israelis citizens under fire of Hamas missiles.
A video of the flash mob of the simulated Hamas missile attack has garnered some 31,000 views since its posting on YouTube late last week. In it, hundreds of youth drop to the ground and seek cover in 15 seconds or less as a siren sounds in a Viennese public square.
The creative demonstration was organized by three different Austrian Jewish youth movements (B’nai Akiva, Hashomer Hatzair and Yad B’Yad) united under a “Jewish Youth Vienna” banner, according to Raimund Fastenbauer, secretary general of the Association of Jewish Communities in Austria.
The 8,000-member Austrian Jewish community has witnessed its share of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel demonstrations in Vienna recently.
“There was a big one organized by pro-Erdogan Turkish supporters, and one organized by some leftists groups. There was also one this past Saturday for Al-Quds Day organized by Iranians,” Fastenbauer said.
“There was a counter demonstration on Saturday, but it was organized by non-Jews, and not the Jewish community because it was Shabbat,” he said.
Fastenbauer reported that the Jewish community in Vienna, where 95 percent of Austrian Jews live, is on high security alert.
“In any case, we have had high security for a long time,” he said. “We spend 20 percent of the community’s budget on security.”
Fastenbauer has also been keeping an eye on how Israel’s conflict with Hamas has been portrayed in the Austrian media.
“The Austrian print media has been mainly fair. It’s the TV news that not been objective about the situation,” he said.
The Jewish community is working with the Israeli embassy and Israeli Foreign Ministry on countering anti-Israel rhetoric.
“We are doing our best. The hasbara [public relations effor] has been better than it has been in the past,” Fastenbauer said.