Thursday, June 25, 2015

Austria: "Where are the expressions of outrage from the government, media, religious leaders and NGOs?"

Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein @ Newsweek:
Now comes word that a landlord in Vienna is "offended" by the display of an Israeli flag inside a window of an apartment first placed there in celebration of Israel's participation in the Eurovision songfest. The landlord also informed the Jewish tenant that to avoid eviction he must not only take down the flag but also remove his mezuzah (the small case holding Biblical verses) affixed his doorposts.
Balancing the rights of one person in a democracy to display his pride in a member state of the U.N. with another citizen's right to hate ought to be fairly easy to sort out for the authorities. But this is 2015 Europe, where the rights of Jewish citizens are not always protected.

It is true that Austria deserves credit for some positive aspects of its treatment of post-war Jews. When the former Soviet Union began releasing some of the Jews it had essentially held captive for decades, Austria agreed, at least for a while, to be the neutral transit point for the Jewish émigrés, most of whom would reach Israel. Austria also absorbed many Iranian Jews who fled the Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power.

But Austria has never come to terms with its role in the Holocaust, leaving it with a trifecta of Jew hatred: traditional anti-Semitism, the new virulent anti-Israelism and the so-called secondary anti-Semitism caused by the Holocaust itself.  

In Der Ewige Antisemit (The Eternal Anti-Semite), Henryk Broder first introduced us to a startling reality of contemporary anti-Semitism: "The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz." And some Austrians it seems still have trouble dealing with pesky live Jews who dare to hold their heads high above gutter level.
There are several ways in which Vienna's mezuzah-gate can play out, but only one will be morally satisfactory. Forget the landlord, where are the expressions of outrage from the government, media, religious leaders and NGOs? 

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