Silberstein’s Arrest Causes a Wave of anti-Semitic Comments Online

Der Standard, August 16, 2017.

German Original

Agitation on Facebook is like out of a textbook on hatred for Jews. Anti-Semitic postings found on a website close to the FPÖ.

The arrest of Israeli political consultant Tal Silberstein, who advised the Social Democrats (SPÖ) during the current election campaign, has led to a wave of anti-Semitic postings online. Like out of a textbook on hatred for Jews, users on Facebook agitate using terms like “red Jew clan,” “Jewish money nobility,” and “the dark business surrounding the Jew Silberstein.” Another user suspects that “Kern, just like Merkel and Faymann, is on the payroll of the Jews.” No Jewish stereotype is missed.

Postings in this tonality can also be found on the website (“uncensored”), which is thought to be close to the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ). There, Tal Silberstein is characterized as a “grabby Jew” and Israel is made responsible for “every disaster, regardless of what century we are in.” At the same time, another reader wants Chancellor Kern, the head of the SPÖ, to “apply for the chancellorship in Israel; this is where he fits in perfectly.”

In addition, the federal chancellor is made into a Jew; one user writes that “it just had to be a consultant of the same ethnicity as Kern.” Some of these postings have been online for days.

Contributions by users of have caused trouble and legal action in the past. One positive reference to the Norwegian right-wing extremist and mass murderer Anders B. Breivik led to the filing of a complaint by the directorate of the Austrian parliament.

Slush Money Affair

Silberstein was arrested in Israel on Monday. He is charged with involvement in a slush money affair revolving around mining rights of iron in Guinea. After the arrest was made public, the SPÖ severed ties with its consultant, who is assumed innocent until proven guilty. Silberstein’s activities for Chancellor Kern and his campaign team made headlines on several occasions during the past months.

Anti-Semitic Incidents in Austria

Over the past months, anti-Semitic incidents have been making headlines in Austria. A Whatsapp – group in which students with ties to the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) made fun of victims of the Shoah was made public, while anti-Semitic slogans were heard during a demonstration against Israeli politics in Vienna. A few weeks ago, it became known that a high-ranking FPÖ – politician used anti-Semitic codes in a speech.