Open Letter to MK Yehuda Glick
Dear Knesset Member Glick,
We are writing this letter to you as it has been widely reported that you intend to meet with Heinz-Christian Strache, vice-chancellor of Austria and the leader of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), and Karin Kneissl, Austrian Foreign Minister, who was appointed by the FPÖ.
We, the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS), in partnership with the Austrian Union of Jewish Students (JöH), as the elected representatives of Jewish students worldwide, implore you to reconsider this trip. We ask you to align yourself with the Austrian Jewish community and the Government of Israel, which have chosen to boycott the FPÖ and its officials. We believe the FPÖ to be vehemently antisemitic, xenophobic and racist. It is of utmost importance to disallow the normalization of their far-right beliefs.
Vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, was arrested in 1990 for activities with an illegal German Neo-Nazi Group, and participated in paramilitary drills with Austria’s leading Neo-Nazi, Gottfried Küssel. Karin Kneissl wrote a book stating that Zionism is a "blood and soil ideology", and compared it to the German nationalism of the 20th Century. 41% of the FPÖ’s parliamentarians are members of "Burschenschaften", far-right, antisemitic, German nationalist fraternities. Many of these still have an "Aryan clause", barring everyone they do not consider "German" enough from membership, including Jews and all other minorities. There are countless incidents in which lower-level functionaries of the party were involved in antisemitic acts, including Holocaust denial.
This is not a partisan issue. Austrian-Jewish elected community leaders from every political, religious and ethnic background unanimously condemn the FPÖ in the strongest possible terms and consider the party and its leadership deeply antisemitic. We believe the FPÖ to be a grave threat to democracy and to Jewish life in Austria. At the WUJS General Assembly, held in Jerusalem on December 31st, nationally elected Jewish student leaders from all over the world agreed with this sentiment and voted to boycott the FPÖ officials in this government.
The Government of Israel clearly shares our concerns, as it chose to boycott ministers from the FPÖ immediately following the recent national elections in Austria, deciding not to engage with the FPÖ in any capacity.
MK Glick, we urge you not to fall prey to the lies and deceits of the FPÖ. This party is trying to pander to Israel and the Jewish people in a thinly veiled attempt to normalize far-right politics, values and rhetoric. It attempts to whitewash its antisemitic nature. Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, and its elected representatives, have a special moral and historical obligation to protect our Jewish values and stand against the rising tides of hate, bigotry, and antisemitism.
Please join us in sending this unyielding message to the FPÖ and far-right organizations everywhere: we see through them, we know who they are, and we will not be fooled. The world needs to know that representatives of the Jewish State will not engage with those who openly or covertly seek our destruction.
We thank you for your time, and hope you will do the right thing. Signed,
Avigayil Benstein President, World Union of Jewish Students
Benjamin Guttmann Co-President, Austrian Union of Jewish Students
Benjamin Hess Co-President, Austrian Union of Jewish Students