Soccer incident showcases rising Austrian anti-Semitism, Jewish leader says

Click photo to download. Caption: Austrian Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who recently posted a thinly veiled anti-Semitic cartoon on his Facebook page. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) Austrian Jewish leaders said that anti-Semitism is on the rise in the country after neo-Nazi soccer fans allegedly insulted a rabbi. The fans shouted, “Jews out!” and made the Hitler salute, Reuters reported. Police ignored the abuse, the rabbi said, with one officer telling him, “Come on, it’s only soccer.”

The incident reportedly took place before a match between Rapid Vienna and the Greek team PAOK last week. Oskar Deutsch, head of Austria’s Jewish community, noted that far-right Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache also recently posted a thinly veiled anti-Semitic cartoon on his Facebook page. This postingwent unpunished, though the Austrian government later reiterated its “rigorous” rejection of anti-Semitism and racism.

“Parallels between the feeble reactions from politicians and the public to Strache’s anti-Semitic caricature and this event ... are clear to me, and they lead to a lowering of the inhibition threshold for anti-Semitic aberrations,” Deutsch said.

Posted on September 7, 2012 .