Poll reveals that antisemitism is on the rise in Austria

According to a study commissioned by the Austrian government, almost a fifth of the respondents believe that Jewish people have ‘too much influence’ in international business, politics and the media.

One in three Austrians believes that Jews “dominate international business” and are exerting growing “power and influence” in politics and the media, reveals a study of antisemitism commissioned by the Austrian government, reports the Financial Times.

The study concludes that the significant rise in antisemitism, conspiracy theories and political radicalisation is caused by major social crises, including the war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic and inflation.

According to the research conducted by the Institute for Empirical Social Research, almost 60% of Austrians have witnessed antisemitic language or behaviour in the past year. While in 2020, 11% of respondents said Jewish people exercised “too much influence” in Austria, the figure rose to 19% in 2022, which resulted in growing antisemitism in the capital city, Vienna, one of the great historical European centres of Jewish culture.

An important finding of the study was that a growing number of Austrians have a distorted image of the memory of the Holocaust. A third of those surveyed — just under 3,000 Austrians online and by phone over the past year — said Jewish people today sought to “take advantage” of their victimhood during the Holocaust. A similar percentage said they were “against the fact that people keep rehashing that Jews were killed during the second world war.” One-fifth of respondents thought Jewish people were at least “partly responsible” for their historical persecution.

“The results are shocking but not surprising,” Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Community of Vienna, told the Austrian Press Agency.

“It shows above all that we need a better-shared understanding — understanding about the Shoah,” said the president of the Jewish Community of Vienna, Oskar Deutsch. “And knowledge about Judaism itself,” he added.

Antisemitic incidents have steadily risen in Europe over the past few years, but not all countries record specific incidents of antisemitic crimes.

Austria is trying to tackle the issue proactively. The most substantial growth in antisemitic prejudices now comes from large Islamic immigrant communities in the country. Half of those from Arabic and Turkish-speaking backgrounds in the survey said the Holocaust was exaggerated, and 40 per cent blamed Jews for the current rise in inflation.