Austrian Jewish leader violently assaulted in Graz

Israel-related antisemitism smeared on synagogue

POLICE TAPE at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh (photo credit: REUTERS)
POLICE TAPE at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An unknown assailant on Saturday attacked the president of the tiny Jewish community in Graz, Austria, with what is believed to have been a baseball bat.
When Elie Rosen “left his car, he was attacked by the stranger with a wooden stick, apparently a baseball bat,” Austrian newspaper Der Standard reported. “He managed to escape back into the car at the last second. After that, the attacker hit the vehicle with the baseball bat before he fled.”
The Austrian government in Graz provided personal protection for Rosen after the attack. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz expressed shock over the attack, Austrian news outlet ORF reported.
The Graz Synagogue was attacked twice over the past week. Last Wednesday, antisemitic pro-Palestinian graffiti was smeared on the building.
The slogan “Free Palestine” was written on the synagogue, a phrase that typically means the elimination of the Jewish state, Rosen told the Wiener Zeitung newspaper.
“In Graz, we are dealing with a stronger left wing and anti-Israel antisemitism,” he said. “We can clearly determine that.” The attack was not carried out by right-wing extremists, he added.
Samuel Laster, an Israeli journalist in Vienna and an expert on Austrian antisemitism, on Saturday told The Jerusalem Post: “I find the attack shameful and repulsive. It is important to stand up against antisemitism and to fight its causes.”
“The intersection between attacks on Israel and attacks against Jews must be stopped, especially in Graz – the city where the Nazis came to power before the Anschluss,” he said.
Hitler’s movement annexed (Anschluss) Austria in 1938 with the overwhelming approval of the Austrian people.
Kurz has clearly positioned himself against antisemitism, Laster said.
Austrians destroyed the Graz Synagogue during a night of anti-Jewish violence in 1938. In 2000, the city opened a new synagogue.
Graz’s Jewish community has some 150 members.