Austria's Chancellor calls antisemitism in Malaysia 'unacceptable'

Malaysia has banned all Israelis from participating in events hosted in Malaysia during World Para-Swimming Championships in July.

January 22, 2019 01:50
1 minute read.
Austria's Chancellor calls antisemitism in Malaysia 'unacceptable'

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz talks to the media as he arrives at an European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)


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With Israeli government anger over the antisemitic boycott of Israeli swimmers by the prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Bin Mohamad, at a slated Paralympic swimming tournament, Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz raised the issue of Jew-hatred with Mohamad in a meeting on Monday in Vienna.

Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, a spokesman for the Austrian government, wrote The Jerusalem Post by email: “In the aftermath of the meeting, the Chancellor told Austrian journalists that when it comes to Israel and antisemitism, he and his counterpart are of ‘completely contrary opinions’ and that any form of antisemitism in Malaysia and anywhere else is unacceptable.”
He added that the chancellor conveyed to the Malaysian prime minister that “Austria is and remains without a doubt a friend and partner of Israel and is committed to fight any form of antisemitism wherever it may occur.”

Launsky-Tieffenthal wrote, “Chancellor Kurz has welcomed the prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, for a working meeting at the Austrian Federal Chancellery. Besides discussing topics of bilateral nature, such as economic cooperation, Chancellor Kurz took the opportunity to bring up the issue of antisemitism in Malaysia and the Government’s stand towards Israel and the Jewish people.”

Malaysia has banned all Israelis from participating in events hosted in Malaysia at the World Para Swimming Championships in July.

Emmanuel Nahshon, the spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, wrote on Twitter: “Malaysia’s PM Mahathir’s govt. bans Israelis in all sports including athletes with disabilities in a @Paralympics swimming event in July 19. This is hateful and shameful and totally opposes the Olympic spirit .@iocmedia and @Paralympics – help change the decision, or the venue!”

In contrast to the chancellor, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen declined to criticize Mohamad’s antisemitism during his meeting with the Malaysian leader. According to a report in the Austrian daily, Volksblatt, by Manfred Maurer, a spokesman for the president said antisemitism by boycotting the Israeli swim team “played no role” during the meeting.

The president’s spokesman, Reinhard Pickl-Herk, said the conversation covered “multi-lateralism and climate protection.” Volksblatt noted that during a Vienna conference on antisemitism in November, the Austrian president spoke about the obligation to speak against “every form of antisemitism.”

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