Austrian government launches antisemitism strategy

Jewish community leaders say it should be a model for the rest of Europe


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Education is at the heart of the new National Strategy Against Antisemitism launched by the Austrian government last week.
The 184-page document details how the state plans to coordinate and expand its work tackling antisemitism across six government departments.
Europe minister Karoline Edtstadler described the fight against antisemitism as “a key concern of the [Austrian] government”.
Austrian Jewish community president Oskar Deutsch called the strategy an “urgently needed step” that could serve as a model for other European countries.
Among the priorities detailed in the document’s 38-point plan are closing loopholes in existing laws outlawing Nazi activity and Holocaust denial and proscribing the symbols and uniforms of banned extremist groups.
The Austrian government also wants to see more information sharing at the European level about antisemitic incidents.
The emphasis, however, will be on education. Antisemitism awareness will be incorporated into the values and integration courses required for asylum seekers and non-European migrants.
A 2018 study of antisemitism in Austria found that Jew-hatred is more pronounced in Turkish- and Arabic-speaking minority communities when compared to the population as a whole.
Teachers, scholars, soldiers, police officers, and schoolchildren will all be the targets of new educative initiatives and memorial projects.
Not only antisemitism awareness but the contribution of Jews to Austrian society and culture will be taught and promoted.
The National Strategy Against Antisemitism was welcomed by figures from across the political spectrum last week, with the Social Democratic Party’s Sabine Schatz calling it an “ambitious project”.
In 2019, 550 antisemitic incidents were recorded by the Jewish community’s Antisemitism Registration Bureau—the Austrian equivalent of the CST—representing a 9.5 percent uptick in recorded incidents within two years.
In September, the government committed to trebling its financial support for Austria’s Jewish community and securing Jewish institutions to £3.55 million per annum.

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