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Combating antisemitism

Antisemitism, i.e. hostility or hatred towards Jews, led to the persecution of the entire Jewish population after the National Socialists took power in Austria in March 1938. The Austrian Jewish community was destroyed by expulsion, deportation, flight and mass murder. Only a small number survived or returned from exile and rebuilt the Jewish communities in Austria. Even today, 80 years after the 'Anschluss' (Germany's annexation of Austria) and the November pogroms of 1938, antisemitism is still virulent in Austria and Europe. Antisemitism continues to manifest itself today as a racist rejection of the Jewish people and Jewish institutions or as the deluded notion of the existence of a Jewish world power. With Austrian Jews still being harassed and threatened, Jewish institutions have to be protected. There are also remnants of the formerly prevalent, religiously motivated hostility towards Jews among Christians, as well as Islamist antisemitism, which is often linked to a denial of the legitimacy of Israel. Today, discussion forums on the Internet, especially on social media, are significant centres for antisemitic hate campaigns.

During the Austrian EU Presidency, the Austrian Federal Government defined the Fight against Antisemitism as an important area of action with the aim of setting new milestones in this international struggle.

On 6 December 2018, the European Council approved a “declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe”. It was modelled on the working definition of antisemitism defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (26 May 2016).

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The Austrian Federal Government adopted this working definition on 25 April 2017 and the BMBWF has urged all bodies within its remit to implement it. 

The second study carried out by the Fundamental Rights Agency in 2018 to investigate ‘Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of antisemitism’, as well as the study commissioned by the President of the Austrian National Council Wolfgang Sobotka ‘Antisemitism 2018’ show that antisemitism is still widespread and firmly rooted in society, and that Jews in Austria often feel harassed and threatened.

_erinnern.at_ supports teachers by providing seminars and learning materials on how schools can prevent and tackle antisemitism and racism, e.g.

  • The educational booklet ‘Ein Mensch ist ein Mensch – Rassismus, Antisemitismus und sonst noch was…’ (‘A person is a person – racism, antisemitism and much more ... ’)  
  • The online toolbox ‘Stories that Move’
  • The learning resource ‘Fluchtpunkte. Bewegte Lebensgeschichten zwischen Europa und Nahost’ (‘Flight routes. Stories of survivors who fled from Europe to the Middle East’)
  • The learning resource ‘Neue Heimat Israel’ (‘New Homeland Israel’) 

Links

Contact

Martina Maschke
Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research
Head of the Department of Bilateral Affairs; Holocaust Education – international
Minoritenplatz 5
1010 Vienna
T +43 1 53120 2875
martina.maschke@bmbwf.gv.at

Manfred Wirtitsch
Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research
Head of the Department of Basic Issues and Transferable Skills, School Partnerships and All-day Schools
Minoritenplatz 5
1010 Vienna
T +43 1 53120 2540
manfred.wirtitsch@bmbwf.gv.at