Antisemitism in Austria reaches all-time high in 2021

965 incidents, the most annually since documentation began 20 years ago, were reported in Austria in 2021.

People take pictures of a light symbol, marking the place where Viennese synagogues once stood before they were destroyed, after a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known as Night of Broken Glass, in front of a then destroyed Synagogue in Vienna, Austria November 8, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS)
People take pictures of a light symbol, marking the place where Viennese synagogues once stood before they were destroyed, after a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known as Night of Broken Glass, in front of a then destroyed Synagogue in Vienna, Austria November 8, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Last year, a total of 965 antisemitic incidents were reported to the Reporting Office for Antisemitism of the Jewish Community of Vienna (IKG), an increase of 65% compared with 2020 (585 incidents).

It was the highest number of recorded antisemitic incidents since documentation began 20 years ago, the IKG said.

The number of antisemitic incidents only represents those that were brought to the attention of the authorities, and “it must be assumed that there is a larger number of unrecorded incidents” since “the report counts only those antisemitic incidents that were reported and that, following evaluation by the experts at the Reporting Office for Antisemitism, were found to be clearly antisemitic under the IHRA definition,” the report said.

A record 167 antisemitic incidents occurred in May, which the IKG attributed to the military escalation between Palestinian terrorists and Israel and to extremist far-right activity connected with the coronavirus pandemic.

There were 113 antisemitic incidents in November, the second-highest number, which the IKG attributed to new measures to prevent coronavirus and the announcement of vaccine mandates.

Quayside at Enns river in Steyr, Austria (credit: HERBERT ORTNER, VIENNA, AUSTRIA/CC BY-SA 3.0/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)Quayside at Enns river in Steyr, Austria (credit: HERBERT ORTNER, VIENNA, AUSTRIA/CC BY-SA 3.0/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Most of the reported antisemitic incidents took place on social-media networks (386). The number of incidents reported on the basis of personal perception was 292, while 131 incidents were recorded in online environments.

“In 2021, the Reporting Office for Antisemitism of the Jewish Community of Vienna registered 965 cases,” IKG president Oskar Deutsch said Friday at a press conference. “This is an all-time high. We can only reverse this trend together.”

“I call upon each and every one to show courage when they witness antisemitic incidents wherever they occur,” he said. “Antisemitism is always antidemocratic. Therefore, we are all affected by these worrying numbers. This is why it is of utmost importance to stand up for your free, open and pluralistic society.

“We are working closely with our partners in the government, institutions and civil society. Through various initiatives supporting and protecting Jewish life in Austria, we are thriving as a community, and we invite all Jews to witness this miracle. The challenge of the rise of antisemitic incidents is a global phenomenon, and we are working closely with all strands of society to combat the rise in antisemitic incidents,” Deutsch said.

IKG secretary-general Benjamin Nägele said: “The two main reasons for the rise in antisemitic incidents during 2021 were right-wing extremists participating in the demonstrations against the corona measures as well as antisemitic demonstrations pretending to be criticizing the State of Israel. Additionally, there is an increasing number of community members who are willing to report such incidents, providing us with a clearer understanding of the dimension regarding antisemitic cases in Austria.”