Austrian Jewish Leader Warns of Alarming Rise in Anti-Semitism

The leader of Vienna's Jewish community has warned that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the country has doubled over the past year.

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Rachel Hirshfeld,

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The leader of Vienna's Jewish community has warned that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the country has nearly doubled over the past year, adding that Jews living in other countries throughout the EU remain under threat as well.

In an interview with the Kurier newspaper, Oskar Deutsch said that the Jewish community had recorded 135 anti-Jewish incidents in 2012, compared to 71 in 2011.

He named Hungary, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France and Greece as the countries in which Jews have experienced a heightened sense of urgency with regard to the prevalent anti-Semitic sentiments.

"If this is not stamped out now I don't know where anti-Semitism, hatred of foreigners and xenophobia will lead. EU representatives and politicians must say loud and clear: 'Anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated.' And the EU must act against it in a coordinated fashion. The EU's Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna must fulfill its mission. But I cannot detect any actions there," Deutsch told the newspaper.

In recent months the government of right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has faced harsh criticism from Jewish groups that it is failing to adequately respond to the rise of far-right groups, such as the neo-Nazi Jobbik party.

In November, a deputy of the Jobbik party caused international by proposing in parliament drawing up a list of people "of Jewish origin (who) present a national security risk to Hungary."

In May, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel returned Hungary's highest state honor because of what he called a "whitewashing" of history in the European Union member state.

In Greece, the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which has become notorious for its blatant anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric and has been responsible for perpetrating attacks on Jews and foreigners, has similarly created a sense of unease among the country’s Jewish population.

Anti-Semitism in France was given new impetus when Islamic terrorist Mohamed Merah went on a shooting rampage in March in and around the southern city of Toulouse, killing a rabbi, three Jewish children and three French paratroopers, before being shot dead in a police siege.

"The shocking attack on Jewish school children in France reinforced for Jews around the world that anti-Semitism is still a serious problem in France and indeed all of Europe," said National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman. "This was hardly an isolated event.  Time and again, Jews were the targets of anti-Semitic incidents in communities in a number of European countries, and in three countries virulently racist and anti-Semitic political parties won seats in parliament.”

“[A]nti-Semitic attitudes are still deeply ingrained on the continent,” he said, commenting on a recent poll conducted by the League that analyzed the greatest issues that faced Jews in the year 2012.