Vienna Jewish Leader Accused of Anti-Semitism

By JTA

Published August 20, 2012.
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Heinz-Christian Strache, a rightist Austrian politician, has accused the leader of the country’s Jewish community of perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes.

The accusation is the latest in an exchange that began after a caricature depicting a hook-nosed, obese banker with three stars on his sleeve appeared on the Facebook page of Strache, who heads the Freedom Party of Austria, or FPP.

Following the publication Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Community of Vienna, accused Strache of disseminating anti-Semitic, 1940s-style propaganda in a news release. The announcement described the star-shaped cufflinks on the banker’s sleeve as Stars of David.

In response, a posting on Strache’s Facebook page said the cufflinks were diamonds and that one needed to be “fairly paranoid to see a Star of David in that shape.” Interpreting the hook-shaped nose as Jewish “is in fact anti-Semitic, and we reject this,” the post read.

The caricature shows the obese banker eating food that a waiter labeled as “the government” puts before him. An emaciated third character labeled as “the people” sits beside the banker with no edible food on his plate.

Strache and other FPO lawmakers have frequently faced accusations of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

“The FPO and Strache are experts in deflecting accusations of anti-Semitism,” Ilja Sichrovsky, the Austria-born secretary general of the Muslim Jewish Conference, an interfaith organization, told JTA. “What is certain is that it was insensitive of Strache to place such a caricature in light of Austria’s history with the vilification of Jews in caricatures.”


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