European Jewish Students Call Against Normalization of Right-Wing Extremism

In 2000, when the anti-immigrant, far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) with historical ties to pan-German nationalists and antisemites last entered government alongside the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), the European community exploded in a wave of outrage and action – taking to the streets in massive protests, imposing sanctions, retrieving envoys and even calling for an exclusion of Austria from the EU.

Today, the same announcement is met with striking silence. We call on European leaders and the European Institutions to condemn this unholy alliance which is a symbol of complete defiance of the European project and the values it is rooted in.

In the complicit silence surrounding the news, the argument has been that the FPÖ has reformed itself, it has rid itself of its xenophobic discourse and has become a moderate conservative party like all others. We must call the spade a spade and treat the FPÖ as what it is – a racist, antisemitic and inflammatory populist party that should not have a seat and a political voice in any European government. The FPÖ is right now trying to pander to Jewish communities and Israel. This however, only serves one reason: the FPÖ is trying to white-wash its antisemitic history and present, because today other minorities are more opportune targets. We will not allow this. We will not be a “fig-leaf” for a Party that has its roots in the Nazi movement.

In the context of pan-European radicalization and of growing prevalence of right-wing rhetoric, the return of the FPÖ to power seems less noteworthy. Entrusting the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defense to the FPÖ – less flagrant, the naming of its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache as Vice-Chancellor, less scandalous. Yet precisely because of this context it is of the utmost importance and urgency that European leaders stand up in joint condemnation.

The European Union of Jewish Students and the Austrian Union of Jewish Students thus urge all branches of the European Union and their national counterparts to stand up in defense of our common European values of tolerance, inclusion, diversity and safeguarding of Human Rights.