Austrian National Council presents latest survey on antisemitism

The President of the Austrian National Council, the country’s lower house Wolfgang Sobotka, presented the newest study on antisemitism in the country.

since 2018, the Austrian National Council, has collected data on the subject of antisemitism in Austria, conducted by researchers from the Institute of Empirical Social Studies (IFES), in cooperation with Demox.

The survey was undertaken again in November and December 2020 with 2.000 respondents. Media influences, but also antisemitic conspiracy myths relating to the corona pandemic, were re-examined in the latest edition.

At the presentation, Sobotka emphasised that hatred of Jews is a centuries-old phenomenon, that it is “not a fringe phenomenon”, which comes “from the middle of society”, you can see that especially on the Internet.

According to the results of the survey, antisemitism and the propensity for conspiracy myths are closely related. 28% of the respondents feel the statement  that “a powerful and influential elite (e.g. Soros, Rothschild, Zuckerberg, …) is using the corona pandemic to further expand their wealth and political influence” as very correct or rather correct. “People with a high propensity for conspiracy myths are significantly more antisemitic than the rest of the population,” said Thomas Stern, author of the study.

In addition to the age and level of education of the respondents, what media they consume also plays a role: only a minority  of respondents say they trust social media.

The study shows, however, that those who do trust social media have above-average antisemitic attitudes.

24% of respondents who trust TikTok and 16% of those who trust Facebook and YouTube who agree with the statement that, “Reports on concentration camps and the persecution of Jews during World War II, much is exaggerated”, as opposed to 4% of respondents who trust traditional newspapers and magazines.

“There is a clear link between trust in social media, conspiracy myths and antisemitism, said study director Eva Zeglovits.”

Compared to 2018, antisemitic attitudes seem to have decreased somewhat in Austria at first glance. In 2018, for example, 39 percent of those surveyed found the statement “Jews rule the international business world” very or rather true, in 2020 this will only apply to 26 percent.

The study authors emphasise, however, that the results are not really comparable with one another. An important factor is to what extent certain answers are viewed as socially acceptable.

The survey also took place shortly after the Islamist-motivated terrorist attack near the synagogue in downtown Vienna in November 2020, which could also have had an aftereffect.

“Even if the declines are due to the effects of socially desirable response behavior, this is relevant and important for us. Because this shows a growing awareness of the problem of antisemitism, which in turn is the basis for an actual change in attitudes, ”said Sobotka.

The study also differentiates between “affective antisemitism” (a deep-seated emotional aversion to Jews) and “pseudorational antixemitism” (attempts to make antisemitic allegations appear to be “rationally justified”).

The statements that can be assigned to affective antisemitism are viewed by 6 to 13 percent as very or somewhat correct (for example, “You cannot expect a Jew to be decent”). According to the study, the proportion of people who perceive the statements of pseudorational antisemitism to be very or more accurate is even higher – it fluctuates between 11 and 31 percent (for example, “Jews today try to take advantage of the fact that they Time have been victims ”).

According to the authors of the study, the impartial basic attitude towards Jews is more widespread than affective and pseudorational antisemitism: 62 percent rate the statement “Jews have contributed a lot to cultural life in Austria” as very or somewhat true, 49 percent rate the statement “Because of the persecution of the Jews during World War II, we now have a moral obligation to assist the Jews in Austria”

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer thanked the authors for the study, because the common fight against anti-Semitism is more important than ever, he reminded of antisemitic incidents at anti-lockdown demos.

For example, by wearing yellow Jewish stars, “an attempt is made in a perfidious way to downplay the crimes of the Holocaust”.

“If you want to fight antisemitism effectively, you first and foremost have to know where it comes from,” said Chancellery Minister Karoline Edtstadler in a broadcast. The incidents at the demonstrations are “absolutely unacceptable”.

At the presentation, Sobotka also made reference to a speech by FPÖ parliamentary faction leader Herbert Kickl, who in a coronavirus demonstration had accused Israel of “health apartheid”. Sobotka warned against such comparisons because basic antisemitic patterns are still extremely widespread.”

“If you listen to the speech of “a certain club chairman”, Sobotka alluded to Kickl without naming him, you see very clearly that no other country is mentioned that also has lockdowns or a special vaccination strategy, but Israel is mentioned.

Sobotka criticised the use of the language term “apartheid” and “lack of freedom”, knowing that Israel was actually the only democracy in this region.”

the previous week, Kickl had attacked Israel at an anti-lockdown demonstration saying: “What’s going on in Israel right now is on the one hand a mass experiment on the part of the pharmaceutical industry and on the other a system of healthcare apartheid.”

The FPÖ’s parliamentary faction boss had also told supporters that Israel’s vaccination drive has made it “a land of unfreedom whose example we shouldn’t follow”.

Click here to read the full survey (German)

Click here for an English summary of the survey 


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