Sunday, September 20, 2015

Austria: Jews in bind over donation to anti-Israel NGO

Via Jerusalem Post:
Austria’s Jewish community is engulfed in turmoil because it donated €14,000 to Caritas – a Catholic humanitarian aid organization accused of stoking hostility to Israel – for aid to Syrian refugees, triggering a firestorm of criticism.

“If Simon Wiesenthal were alive he would jump into his grave if he knew what was happening,” Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Wiesenthal, the Nazi hunter and survivor of extermination camps, was based in Vienna. “The act shows the absence of Simon Wiesenthal, the great conscience of the Shoah, is no long there,” said Samuels.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, said Thursday that either the leaders of the Jewish community of Vienna provided this money without checking details of the Caritas agenda, or they knowingly supported this radical and anti-Israel NGO.

“In contrast to official Vatican policy, Caritas is very active in promoting Palestinian narratives and attacking Israel,” he said.

“On Gaza, their propaganda statements ignore the reality of thousands of rocket attacks, Hamas terrorist tunnels and the human rights of Israeli victims, while claiming that the Israeli goal is to force Palestinians to ‘give up their rights to the land,’” he said.


Oskar Deutsch, the head of Austria’s Jewish community (IKG), said Thursday that the community in Vienna “is indeed very conscious that a strengthening of migration from Syria to Europe will pose political and security challenges for Jewish communities.

At the same time the IKG views it as a duty to support humanitarian help for people that flee the terror of [Islamic State] or Syria’s regime.”

Deutsch said, “The Caritas Austria [organization] is non-political” and “there are also not any known anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli statements toward Israel from the past. The Austria organization should not in this connection be put on the same level as Caritas International or Pax Christi.”


Samuels warned that “if the Austrian- Jewish community, a Shoah survivor community, turns to an organization that associates with the demonization of Israel, it could have a domino effect.”

He urged Deutsch to call on Caritas to state its opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Samuels rejected Deutsch’s contention that Caritas Austria is not anti-Israel.   more

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