In October, exactly 80 years ago, what the Nazis had tried out in Vienna was carried over to the whole of the Third Reich: trains to the east started from everywhere, heading for the destruction of Jewish life. Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Director of the European Jewish Association, recalls these days of horror and warns: “80 years later we are watching as anti-Semitism increases again in Europe. It is like a pandemic that is spreading ever further.”
Shlomo Köves, Rabbi in Hungary, presented a survey at the annual meeting of Jewish leaders in Brussels, which underpins Margolin’s fears – but also partly contradicts them. 16,000 people in 16 EU countries, including Austria, were asked about prejudices, Jewish neighbors and the State of Israel.
The strongest prejudices against Jewish citizens were revealed in the countries of Eastern Europe, especially in Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, but also in Greece. In Austria, too, the survey found strong anti-Semitic feelings in 22 percent of those questioned.
Fear of attacks in Western Europe is greater
Paradoxically, however, the Jews in the Eastern European countries felt much safer from physical or verbal attacks than in the Western European countries, where there was largely less negative sentiment towards Jews, explains Rabbi Köves. In Hungary, for example, only around 13 percent of the 100,000 or so Jews living in the country feared assault. In Sweden, on the other hand, where there is particularly little anti-Semitic sentiment, according to the survey, almost 40 percent of the Jewish population living there are afraid.
The rabbi from Hungary finds the high number of respondents who responded to the statement: “Jews will never fully integrate into society” particularly “disturbing”. 28 percent of respondents in Austria, 30 percent in Hungary and 36 percent in Poland answered yes. The Austrians are also extremely critical of Israel’s attitude towards the Palestinians: only three percent see the state of Israel as “legitimately involved in its self-defense against its enemies”.
At the same time, there is also the other Austria: In no other of the countries examined were such high sympathy values for Jews determined as here. 38 percent of the Austrians surveyed expressed “strong or at least moderate sympathy for Jews”. In contrast, only 13 percent of Austrians expressed sympathy for the State of Israel.