08/02/2019

Statement about dispute with FPÖ-backed Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Statement about dispute with FPÖ-backed Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs

On the 5th-6th of February, the Slovakian Chairmanship of the OSCE held its opening conference on the topic of antisemitism, a much welcomed tradition set in place last year by the Italian former Chairmanship.


As a strong and long-term partner of the OSCE/ODIHR, the European Union of Jewish Students was there, along with many other civil society organizations, community representatives, international organizations, and - as demanded by the high-level profile of the conference: government representatives.


It is in this context that we got to hear the bigoted remarks of Austrian FPÖ-backed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karin Kneissl. The message of her remarks: if we speak of antisemitism we should look to Muslims and immigrants. At least this should keep us busy from thinking too much about the fact that a far-right Minister is delivering remarks at a conference on the topic of antisemitism.


Ms Kneissl shared a personal story, as expressed in a later tweet "[...]I personally cared for a refugee family and stopped doing so when I realized that they held strongly anti-semitic views." In the context of her entire speech, and most importantly her history - this story was undoubtedly meant to say, those Muslim refugees could not be cleansed of their antisemitism - they were beyond salvation. They could not be integrated. The room, a diverse crowd of different political leanings, gasped, as everyone understood the fear-mongering behind the apparently innocent story.


The language of the far-right populist politician is masterful. With tactful rhetoric, avoiding overt racism, and treading carefully the line between acceptable and unacceptable, the populist is well-versed in those dog-whistle catch-phrases that will immediately translate in the public's consciousness without forcing them to expose their racism literally.


And with that, they are right. The dog-whistle does translate, and we're on to you.


As the Minister was delivering her remarks EUJS tweeted: "While we speak of coalition-building, FPÖ-backed @Karin_Kneissl, you are saying #Muslim children can't be integrated.", debunking the not-so-secret message of Ms Kneissl's story. This caused quite a stir, and the Minister's spokesperson felt compelled to issue a statement against our tweet.


And we can only feel reinforced by the alarmation this caused within a party who lives in fear of having its bias again and again exposed.


You can read about it here: https://diepresse.com/home/innenpolitik/5575203/Ko...


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