Conference of Presidents Leaders Concerned By Austrian Coalition Government Decision to Appoint Far Right Freedom Party Members to Head Important Ministries

New York, NY. . . Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations today expressed concern over the decision by Austria’s new coalition government led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, to appoint representatives from the far right Freedom Party (FPÖ) to lead five ministries including foreign affairs, defense and interior.  Although throughout his political career, Chancellor Kurz has consistently condemned anti-Semitism and expressed support for Israel’s safety and security, there are members of the FPÖ, led by Heinz-Christian Strache, who have a long and troubling record of expressing anti-Semitic and xenophobic views. 

Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO of the Conference of Presidents, said, “We are deeply concerned over the high profile ministerial portfolios held by the FPÖ in the coalition government formed by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s People’s Party (̈ÖVP) and the FPÖ.

Chancellor Kurz has consistently unequivocally and consistently maintained that anti-Semitism has no place in Austrian society, while the same cannot be said for the leadership of the FPÖ. 

It is critically important for responsible political leaders to maintain constant vigilance against outrageous expressions of anti-Semitism, hatred or bigotry of any kind, not give recognition to those who implicitly or explicitly manifest those views.

The coalition government has stated its commitment to Israel as a Jewish state, acknowledged Austria’s ‘complicity and responsibility’ in the tragedy that befell the Jewish people in the Holocaust, and commemorate the Holocaust in order ‘to set a clear signal against any form of anti-Semitism.’

These principles have not been part of the public profile of the FPÖ.  If they are to be seen as something more than mere words of political expediency, leaders of the FPÖ must take concrete steps to show their party's commitment to these ideas.  Until they do, in our dealings with the Austrian government we will not interact with FPÖ ministers and other FPÖ political appointees in the coalition government.

We congratulate Chancellor Kurz on assuming his position at the head of the Austrian government and wish him great success.”

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The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 50 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern

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