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Nearly 1,000 antisemitic incidents in Austria in 2021, Jewish community group says

Jewish Community of Vienna records 65% increase in incidents; vast majority were ‘abusive behavior’ in person or online, with largest proportion of perpetrators from far-right

An armed policeman stands guard in front of the synagogue in Seitenstettengasse in Vienna on November 3, 2020, one day after the shootings nearby and at multiple locations across central Vienna. (Hans Punz/APA/AFP)
Illustrative: An armed policeman stands guard in front of the synagogue in Seitenstettengasse in Vienna on November 3, 2020, one day after the shootings nearby and at multiple locations across central Vienna. (Hans Punz/APA/AFP)

VIENNA — Antisemitic incidents reached a record high in Austria last year, according to a report published Friday.

The statistics, compiled by the Jewish Community of Vienna, recorded 965 incidents in 2021 — the highest number since the organization began documenting them 20 years ago. That figure is an increase of 65% over the previous year, when there were 585 recorded incidents.

“The challenge of the rise of antisemitic incidents is a global phenomenon and we are working closely with all strands of society to combat the rise in antisemitic incidents,” said Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Community of Vienna.

Among the incidents reported in 2021 in the Alpine nation of 8.9 million, the majority — around 60% — were accounts of “abusive behavior,” including in-person and online comments and messages. The next largest category, which made up 27% of total incidents, were mass mailings and literature containing antisemitic messages and stereotypes.

About 1% of the total incidents involved assaults or attempted assaults, 2.5% involved threats, and 10% involved damage and desecration.

By far the largest proportion of incidents — 461, or 48% of the total incidents — could be attributed to people supporting right-wing, far-right and neo-Nazi movements. Approximately 15% came from left-wing individuals, and 11% came from Muslims. A quarter of the incidents could not be attributed to a particular demographic.

Protesters hold a sign with a crossed-out swastika during a rally a year after the forming of a government by the conservative Oevp – FPOe parties on December 15, 2018, in Vienna. (Alex Halada/AFP)

Most of the incidents included in the report involved long-recognized forms of antisemitism, such as Holocaust revisionism, Israel-related comments and antisemitic conspiracy theories.

However, coronavirus-related related antisemitism — such as comparing the treatment of people who refused to be vaccinated or to wear a mask to that of Jews under the Nazis — accounted for 28% of all recorded incidents in 2021.

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