The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Austria has moved up to 477 in 2016 from 465 the year before, according to a Forum Against Anti-Semitism report issued on Thursday. In 2014 there were only about 260 incidents.
This report comes on the heels of last year’s Austrian domestic intelligence service BVT that incidents of xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have been on the rise in this small country that is being overrun by refugees from the Middle east.
“What we see is that racism [and anti-Semitism have become] more socially acceptable in Austria,” said Amber Weinber of the Forum Against Anti-Semitism said, noting that “since it has become more socially acceptable, people increasingly are posting [anti-Semitic messages] in their own name or sending letters with return addresses on them.”
Weinber admitted that “we do not have an exact explanation. We can only say what we see.”
Austria gave the world both Adolf Hitler and Adolf Eichmann and in 1938 was united with Nazi Germany.
Only an estimated 15 thousand Jews live in Austria today (out of about 9 million, or one Jew for every 600 gentile Austrians), down from 175 thousand in the 1930s. Jews arrived in Austria with the Roman legions in the third century.
Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Community of Vienna, told the Voice of America that the new report ” is of course alarming,” seeing as “We now have two consecutive years at a record level.”
The right-wing Freedom Party, which was founded by former Nazis and currently holds 40 out of the 183 seats in the Austrian parliament, is attempting to woo Jewish voters with its anti-Muslim message, with little success.
The Forum Against Anti-Semitism report says that there were seven physical attacks on Jews in 2016, up from two in 2015 but less than the nine attacks recorded in 2014.
Cases of insults and threats against Jews increased by a third, to 24, in 2016, while internet-based attacks fell by a quarter, to 153. Anti-Semitic letters and phone calls rose 7% to 198, and cases of damage to property owned by Jews increased by 36%, to 68.