Austria police files charges vs. Jewish students for anti-BDS protest

Vienna’s police have faced criticism over the years for targeting pro-Israel activists.

An anti-Israeli protest inspired by BDS (photo credit: REUTERS)
An anti-Israeli protest inspired by BDS
(photo credit: REUTERS)
 The Austrian Union of Jewish Students on Saturday slammed the Vienna police for a heavy-handed crackdown on 15 Jewish students who protested against an organization that advocates a boycott of Israel.
While the Austrian federal interior ministry and the Austrian Jewish community issue “warnings for synagogues because right-wing extremists are marching, 15 Jewish university students are surrounded by 100 police officers and criminal complaints filed because they are demonstrating against the antisemitic organization BDS,” tweeted the Austrian Union of Jewish Students. 
The Vienna Police Department responded on Twitter that “An attempt was made to disrupt a properly registered rally. As a result, the participants were stopped, as can be seen in the picture, and a person responsible for violating the obligation to notify and disregarding the protected area was charged.”
The Jerusalem Post sent a press query to the Vienna Police Department on Monday.
Vienna’s police have faced criticism over the years for targeting pro-Israel activists.
In 2019, the Post reported that police in Vienna fined four students €150 for waving an Israel flag at a protest against advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting the Jewish state.
A spokesperson for an organization that monitors antisemitism (Informations- und Beobachtingsstelle antisemitismus), who was at the protest, confirmed to the Post at the time, that a police supervisor told the students the Israeli flag is a “provocation” and issued the activists a €150 fine.
“Once again there was a demonstration in Austria in which antisemitic slogans such as ‘child murderer Israel’ were present, said the spokesperson for monitoring group combating antisemitism.”
The spokesperson added: “Unfortunately this is not the first and probably will not be the last incident of this kind,” noting “that a speaker was wearing a PFLP scarf at the rally in solidarity with an organization classified by the EU, among others, as a terrorist organization whose members carried out several terrorist attacks on Jews.”
Austria’s parliament passed an anti-BDS resolution in 2020, declaring the BDS movement to be antisemitic.
In 2018, the Post reported that the Vienna police pursued criminal charges against three pro-Israel activists for waving an Israeli flag in protest of antisemitic slogans at a demonstration against Jerusalem having been recognized by the US as the capital of the Jewish state.
The police sought a €100 fine or two days in jail for the activists, who showed support for Israel at the December 8 anti-Israel rally near the US Embassy in Austria’s capital.
The criminal notice states that the activists “showed an Israeli flag at a rally in an extremely provocative way and manner that was visible for participants at the rally and thereby produced considerable offense and provocation among the Palestinian protesters.”