Forty Years of Austrian-Israeli Society

Austrian Press Agency, Originaltext Service (APA OTS) (10/27/03)

Rieder: Four decades of reconciliation and international understanding.

Vienna - "The Austrian-Israeli Society (ÖIG) is more than many other bilateral friendships because their very existence and significance reflect the complicated relationship between Austria and Israel, including the historical dimension," explained Deputy-Mayor, Dr. Sepp Rieder, on the occasion of the fortieth celebration of the ÖIG. Its socio-political profile makes the ÖIG unique and has provided for numerous shifting reactions between sympathy and repudiation in public opinion and politics during the past four decades. Since September 1999, Dr. Rieder is the first President of the ÖIG.

Rieder reminded one of the most horrifying incidents in the history of the society, that of the murder of City Counsellor, Heinz Nittel, who from 1978 until his violent death on May 1, 1981, was President of the ÖIG. "Nittel paid with his life the price of taking a stand and committing himself to reconciliation and international understanding. It is important today to be aware of the socio-political demands in the relations between the State of Israel and Austria, also during a phase of calm such as at the present, expressed by the fact that Jerusalem wishes again to send an Ambassador to Vienna," said Rieder.

ÖIG founded on July 16, 1963

The Austrian-Israeli Society was founded on July 16, 1963 at the Austrian Cultural Center on Josefsplatz. In founding the society, politicians from both parties, representatives from Christian and Jewish life as well as personalities from economics and culture came together, moved by clear, political ideas. The ÖIG sees itself as a collection of Austrians who wish to document the positive relationship they have with the State of Israel and its people. The main topic on the agenda has always been and still is confronting anti-Semitism. The ÖIG is always open for all those who are prepared to work for the reconciliation and friendship between Jews and members of other religious communities, thereby contributing their part to human understanding and bridging the gap between borders, world views and social backgrounds.