Netanyahu to visit Vienna for antisemitism summit at end of November

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the summit and Netanyahu’s participation at a press conference in Vienna Wednesday morning.

November 7, 2018 15:40
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (L)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (L) during a meeting on June 11, 2018. (photo credit: OHAD TZVEIGENBERG‏/POOL)


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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit Austria at the end of the month for a summit on antisemitism and anti-Zionism, as well as bilateral talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Kurz announced the summit and Netanyahu’s participation on Wednesday morning, with the event scheduled for November 20-21.

Kurz tied the summit to the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, in a video message posted on Twitter, which he said should remind Austria of its responsibility to fight antisemitism of all forms, whether “of the old kind or newly imported.”

Said Kurz. “As Federal Government of Austria and in the context of the current EU-Presidency we will be hosting a high level conference with the goal of jointly fighting against antisemitism and anti-Zionism in Europe on the 20th and 21st of November in Vienna.”

The Austrian chancellor said that he was “delighted” that Netanyahu would be attending and participating in the conference.

“If Jewish people do not feel safe in many places in Europe in 2018 then this should not only make us think, but requires all of us to take action,” concluded Kurz.

Austrian MP Martin Engelberg of Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party told The Jerusalem Post that the summit would deal with combating antisemitism and anti-Zionism, including the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement against Israel.

The summit will also address ways to “protect and secure Jewish life in Austria and Europe,” Engelberg said, describing the initiative as “very important.”

Relations between Israel and Austria have grown significantly closer following Austria’s 2017 elections in which Kurz became chancellor after the Austrian People's Party became the largest faction in the Austrian parliament. 

Kurz visited Israel in September this year which further boosted the ties between the two countries and between the chancellor and Netanyahu.

Kurz did however bring in the far-right Austrian Freedom Party into his coalition, which has had historical links to Nazi officials and has promoted problematic policies for the Jewish community on several levels, including threatening religious slaughter in Austria. 

The Austrian Jewish community has totally boycotted the Freedom Party, while Israel’s Foreign Ministry has also established a policy of non-contact with the faction. 

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