BERLIN – An extremist right-wing soccer hooligan verbally attacked a Vienna rabbi last week, giving the Nazi salute and yelling “Jews get out,” the rabbi said.

The rabbi, who asked that his name not be given, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that he made three attempts to urge the police to intervene but that at least a dozen officers remained passive and indifferent to the anti-Jewish tirades.

Speaking to the Post from Vienna, the rabbi said that last Thursday, after a soccer match between Greece and Austria, a group of 10 to 12 youths congregated in downtown Vienna on Schweden Square and one of the extremists yelled “shitty Jew” and “Jews get out.” The hooligan then raised his hand and made the Hitler salute.

“I usually ignore that,” the rabbi said, “but with so many police around, I looked at two police officers and asked, ‘How is this allowed to happen, because it is not just an insult but a criminal offense.’” Austria’s hate-crime law bars expressions of classical anti-Semitism and giving the Nazi salute.

According to the rabbi, the police officer told him “come on, it is soccer today.” He said he then approached a second group of police officers, who told him they did not see anything. When he explained to the second contingent of officers that “at least 20 witnesses saw it,” the police responded that they could not help him, he said.

The rabbi sought the help of a third group of police officers, where an officer told him that he “should not get too excited.”

The rabbi said the overall reaction from the roughly 200 to 300 police officers present was “annoyance” with him.

“The scandal is the police not acting on it,” said the rabbi. He said he filed a complaint and “the higher ranks of the police are taking it seriously. The higher ranks do not condone this type of behavior.”

The rabbi noted that a police officer in front of the Jewish community center told him that the police “use a de-esclation strategy” at soccer matches because of the masses of spectators involved. The rabbi said he does not subscribe to the view that it was necessary to defuse the crowd, because the soccer match was over.

“I have my doubts, no mass of hooligans” was present at that time, said the rabbi. He stressed that a dozen police officers ignored his call for help.

The Vienna-based Jewish news website Die Jüdische, whose editor-in-chief, Samuel Laster, has contributed news dispatches to The Jerusalem Post, first reported in German on the story last Thursday.

Oskar Deutsch, the head of Vienna’s 7,500-member Jewish community, condemned the verbal abuse and the authorities for ignoring this outbreak of anti-Semitism.

“I see a great danger in the passivity of some officials of the executive branch toward aggressive anti-Semitism,” said Deutsch, who added that to “leave a rabbi without protection to the verbal insults of soccer fans... cannot be explained away by de-escalation and requires immediate corrective action. Anti-Semitism must not be allowed to be tolerated as a part of soccer culture.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Monday slammed the neo-Nazi abuse of the Vienna rabbi in a letter to Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

“Police refusal to intervene is too reminiscent of the 1938 Kristallnacht Reichspogrom in Austria,” wrote Dr. Shimon Samuels, director of the center’s international affairs department. “Law enforcement that betrays the victim is accomplice to the perpetrator.”

He also noted that “for many years, the presence of the late Simon Wiesenthal in Vienna acted as a restraint against overt expressions of anti-Semitism,” adding that “this year, however, witnessed Jewish cemetery desecration and a Nazi-style cartoon by an Austrian political leader on Facebook.”

The letter stated that “now, a rabbi was this weekend assaulted in Vienna by, reportedly, neo-Nazi soccer fans in front of police officers. Indeed, our protest at fan racism in Buenos Aires led to the AFA (Argentine Football Federation) disqualification of points won by the Chacarita Juniors Football Club.”

Samuels continued that “This red flag penalty against hate is to be presented to FIFA and a European Parliament directive is to be adopted by the Parlatino [Latin American Parliament]. It should also be an example for Austrian football.”

The center shared the letter with the OFB (Austrian Football Association), “urging that – in cooperation with the Ministry – disciplinary measures be taken, including penalties to be applied to the team supported by the delinquent fans and the prosecution of the bystander policemen.”

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