Man arrested in Austria over string of anti-Semitic attacks
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Man arrested in Austria over string of anti-Semitic attacks

Suspect allegedly attacked Jewish community head in city of Graz, defaced its lone synagogue, committed 5 more crimes

A man walks past the defaced facade of the synagogue of Graz, Austria on August 19, 2020. (Christian Jauschowetz via JTA)
A man walks past the defaced facade of the synagogue of Graz, Austria on August 19, 2020. (Christian Jauschowetz via JTA)

A man accused of a string of anti-Semitic crimes in Austria’s second-largest city has been arrested, police told local media, after the incidents sparked condemnation from the president.

An attack on a Jewish community leader in Graz and vandalism of the city’s synagogue are among the seven infractions the man is being held for, the APA news agency reported Sunday, citing a police spokesman.

The president of the tiny Jewish population in Graz, Elie Rosen, was attacked in the street on Saturday night by a stick-wielding stranger, but was not wounded.

The synagogue was also daubed with pro-Palestinian slogans last week reading, “Free Palestine” and “Our country and our language are red lines.”

“It’s not right-wing extremism,” Rosen said at the time. “In Graz we are increasingly dealing with left-wing and anti-Israel anti-Semitism. We can see that clearly.”

There are only around 150 Jews living in Graz, which is located about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southwest of Vienna.

President Alexander Van der Bellen condemned the incidents on Twitter “in the strongest possible terms,” saying that “anti-Semitism has no place in our society.”

Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz also said he was “shocked” by the assault on Rosen.

In 2019, there were around 550 anti-Semitic incidents recorded across Austria.

The Graz synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis in 1938 and rebuilt at the turn of the millennium.

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