On 23 September 2021, in the margins of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, a meeting took place between Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and representatives of a number of Jewish organisations. The groups represented included the World Jewish Congress (JWC), B’nai B’rith, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the National Coalition on Supporting Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ), and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella body that represents Jewish organisations in the United States.
The discussions focused on Austria’s outstanding relations with both Israel and the United States, as well as Austria’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. Foreign Minister Schallenberg underlined this commitment, and stressed that:
We are fully aware of our past, including its darkest chapters, which is why we do not shy away from our historic responsibility.
At the same time, the Foreign Minister emphasised that the Austrian Federal Government attaches the greatest possible importance to commemorating the Shoah and to combatting discrimination and anti-Semitism, commenting that:
The continued anti-Semitic attacks in Europe – and, unfortunately, in Austria too – are a major concern. This means it is even more important to continue the fight against anti-Semitism at every level: nationally, across Europe and globally. Austria will continue to play a leading role in that fight.
In the course of the meeting in New York, Foreign Minister Schallenberg also set out a range of measures the Austrian Federal Government has recently introduced with a view to underlining its support for the fight against anti-Semitism. These measures include giving the descendants of Jewish people persecuted by the Nazis a mechanism for obtaining Austrian citizenship, the construction of the Shoah Wall of Names Memorial Wall in Vienna, the unambiguous stand Austria is taking against terrorism, and recent amendments to the Austrian Symbols Act (Symbole-Gesetz). The law bans the use of various insignia, including those of Hezbollah’s military wing.