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Man punched on Austrian train for asking passengers to stop denying Holocaust

Report says the assault came after victim’s request that suspects stop making antisemitic remarks was ignored

Illustrative: Demonstrators against Israel hold signs at a rally in Vienna, Austria, where protesters chanted in Arabic about a massacre of Jews, May 13, 2021. (Courtesy of Austrian Union of Jewish Students via JTA)
Illustrative: Demonstrators against Israel hold signs at a rally in Vienna, Austria, where protesters chanted in Arabic about a massacre of Jews, May 13, 2021. (Courtesy of Austrian Union of Jewish Students via JTA)

JTA — A train passenger in Austria asked a couple of fellow passengers to stop denying the Holocaust and engaging in antisemitic rhetoric about Jews and Israel.

It didn’t go well: One of the passengers punched him in the face.

The incident happened on May 21 near Amstetten, a city located 70 miles west of Vienna, the Heute newspaper reported Wednesday.

The alleged assailant, whom witnesses said looked Middle Eastern, was speaking about Israel to a fellow passenger, who also looked Middle Eastern and was wearing a kaffiyeh, an Arab headdress that in Europe is also called a “Palestinian shawl” and is commonly worn at pro-Palestinian events.

According to the Heute report, the conversation, which was replete with antisemitic statements, veered into Holocaust denial, which is illegal in Austria. The 32-year-old victim, who was not named, asked the other men to stop making antisemitic remarks but was ignored.

Before exiting the train, one of the passengers hit the victim three times in the face, wounding his lip. Police are looking for the two men, who left the train after the assault.

Across Europe, Jewish communities have reported a spike in antisemitic incidents since the start of new fighting between Israel and Hamas earlier this month. A ceasefire was reached on May 21 after 11 days of fighting, but antisemitic incidents still appear to be occurring at an elevated rate.

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