Article Library / 2016

2016 Annual Assessment

These developments also influenced IKG elections, and thus, the IKG’s external representation. The new IKG leadership elected in 1981 publicly distanced itself from the SPÖ and the BWJ’s non-confrontational and partisan positions, and each consecutive leadership showed greater outspokenness and readiness for public exposure. In the ensuing years, the IKG challenged extreme right wing leader Jörg Haider in court and got the state to recognize the authorities’ responsibilities to protect Jewish religious life.

Both Muzicant and Deutsch also take a self-confident stance toward world Jewry in general and Israel in particular, a stance that would have been unimaginable among their predecessors. Thus, they stood up to WJC president Ronald Lauder’s attempts to interfere in the 2012 communal presidential elections, and fought against the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem for the return of the Vienna Jewish community’s collection (2011-2015).12 Moreover, the Jewish community publicly opposes and criticizes any generalized and undifferentiated foreign criticism directed at Austria, such as Israeli immigration absorption minister Yuli Tamir’s call (2000) for the “Austrian Jews living under persecution” to make aliyah13.

The IKG leadership also fights anti-Semitism publicly and forthrightly. Today, the Jewish community is confronted with anti-Semitism – sometimes disguised as anti-Zionism – propagated by the extreme right, the radical left, Islamists, and also not-so-radical Muslims. The IKG is constantly monitoring anti-Semitic incidents, reporting them to the Austrian authorities, filing complaints with the Public Prosecution Service, and publishing and condemning them in the Austrian media. The IKG also set up its own security department, which cooperates closely with the national police.

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