Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, at a special conference on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, calling the Austrian leader a “true friend” of Israel and the Jewish people.

Netanyahu spoke in a video message prepared for a conference in Vienna on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, dubbed ‘Europe Beyond Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism – Securing Jewish life in Europe’.

Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism "are one," said Netanyahu. "This the first and most essential point of this conference."

Netanyahu praised the Austrian chancellor for "taking such a strong stand against anti-Semitism. You have been unyielding in your efforts to recognize history, defend the truth, and confront anti-Semitism."

"Today we're experiencing a resurgence of anti-Semitism worldwide. We once again hear false and dehumanizing allegations against Jews. We see attempts to kill or harm Jews in the name of radical ideologies. And since the establishment of the State of Israel, we face a new form of anti-Semitism: vicious efforts to demonize the Jewish state and deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination in our ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel."

Chancellor Kurz and EJC President Moshe Kantor
Chancellor Kurz and EJC President Moshe KantorCourtesy of the EJC

Austria’s president, Alexander van der Bellen, and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, took part in the conference.

“Today, on European streets, people are being killed again simply for being Jewish,” said EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor. “Jewish communities in Europe are increasingly concerned about their security and pessimistic about their future.”

“Europe doesn’t have a monopoly on anti-Semitism anymore. No Jewish community, anywhere in the world, however strong and well organised, is now immune from Jew hatred. Fighting anti-Semitism deserves much more than simple statements of good will. We need concrete policies and reinforced legislation.

“Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are getting blurred but they are two sides of the same coin.” Chancellor Kurz said during his opening address. “As Austrians, we have to be honest when we look back at our past as Austria was not only a victim but also a perpetrator, but we must also look ahead to the future. We can’t undo history but we can do justice to our history.”

“I hope the definition of anti-Semitism and the conclusions presented at this conference, will ensure that Jews are able to live safely in Austria, Europe and elsewhere, and that it the only way we can live up to our Presidency of the European Council.” Kurz concluded.

Among the recommendations in the Catalogue are the following:

  • The adoption and implementation of the IHRA Working Definition of Anti-Semitism by all countries, institutions and businesses;
  • Governments and intergovernmental organizations should condemn the blatant state-sanctioned anti-Semitism that exist in a number of countries, such as Iran;
  • All countries should appoint an envoy for combatting anti-Semitism;
  • Every country should commit to a percentage of its GDP, annually, to fund the fight against anti-Semitism;
  • Creating new legal frameworks to combat anti-Semitism effectively and strengthening existing ones;
  • People who express or hold anti-Semitic views should not be allowed to be members of political parties or occupy a position of power;
  • Companies should be advise not to do business with countries or organizations that support anti-Semitism in any way;
  • Governments should commit financial and operational resources to ensure the security of Jewish communities;
  • Internet companies should be liable for anti-Semitic content on their platforms.

“European Values, the Rule of Law and Security” – Yesterday in Vienna

At an earlier conference, titled “European Values, the Rule of Law and Security”, also organised in the framework of the Austrian European Council Presidency, Dr. Kantor spoke about some of the current challenges of fighting anti-Semitism and European values.

“Our European system of values offers protection to radicals and extremists of different ideologies who want to destroy it,” Dr. Kantor said. “Across Europe, far-right, far-left and radical Islam co-exist in a mutually reinforcing relationship, where anti-Semitism is a uniting element. The consequence is a growing threat to Jewish communities and a growing sense of despair and pessimism about the future.”

“The primary responsibility for Jewish communities’ security lies with their governments, law enforcement and security authorities. Some governments have been slow to recognise and react to the threat to their Jewish communities and many still have not. Still, a commitment from the Council of the European Union to increasing financial support and operational capabilities for the security of Jewish communities is a much-needed signal that our concerns about the future of Jewish life are being taken seriously and will be addressed properly.”

'Navigator of Jerusalem' Prize presented by Dr. Moshe Kantor to Chancellor Kurz

At a gala dinner on Tuesday, co-hosted by the Chancellor and the EJC, Dr. Kantor awarded the 'Navigator of Jerusalem' Prize to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for his commitment to the issues of anti-Semitism and Jewish security and for ensuring these are among the priorities of his leadership.

“Chancellor Kurz did not shy away from historical truth, and has proven to be a person of principles, vision and a true friend of the Jewish people.” Dr. Kantor said. “We are delighted that Austria-Israel relations are blossoming today under the Chancellor’s leadership, especially when he declared that Israel’s security is a raison d'être for Austria. For these reasons, we are presenting the European Jewish Congress’ Navigator to Jerusalem Award.”