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The antisemitism conference of the Austrian Student Union in November 2018.

The department of human rights and social policy organizes, from 15. – 17. of November 2018, a conference confronting the issue antisemitism, in the main buidling of the university Vienna.

This conference is needed because,

Since universities and student life aren’t separable from social policies, it is the Austrian Student Unions duty to address public policy related aspects.

Especially in times like these, shaped by a general shift to the right, which impacts are noticeable not least because of the involvement of an extreme right party like the FPÖ in government. It is even more important to point out the danger of ideologies of inequality and to encounter them forcefully.

A special form of such an ideology is antisemitism. Which is so hard to cope with, because of its centuries-long continuity. But the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself vary. Currently antisemitism appears often as “Israel-criticism”, which is in all over Europe and especially in some left-wing groups in vogue, but mainly makes use of classical stereotypes. Another offensive kind of antisemitism can be found in islamist ideology, whereby antisemitism frequently builds a core element. In Europe and particularly in Austria, it is the extreme right-wing antisemitism, that is most obvious. Latest the antisemitism resentments are piling up. This was statistically proven through the forum against antisemitism (FGA), which registered a strong increase of anti-Semitic incidents in Austria, specifically in Vienna.

It is more than alarming, that the right-wing party the FPÖ got more than 26% of the votes in the last election. A party, which openly confesses it roots in the German national and national liberal entourage. Their anti-Semitic and Nazi-era downplaying “isolated incidents” are hardly countable, since they are so numerous. In surveys a decline of the consent is barely noticeable, although the “isolated incidents” are continuing and the Jewish religious community boycotts the collaboration with the FPÖ. Reason is the not credible alienation of antisemitism.

Specifically, the 19. and the 20. century universities were strongholds and precursor for anti-Semitic mindset. During the interwar period even antisemitically motivated murder occurred at universities. Nowadays anti-Semitic incidents still occur at universities and the academic sector, for example a year ago at the law faculty of the university of Vienna. In addition, there are consistently events of the anti-Semitic organization BDS (Boykott, Desinvestment and Sanctions) at universities, which in Austria fortunately aren´t very big yet. The reason for this among others is the commitment of the ÖH Austrian student union, which decided a resolution against BDS in October 2017.

These worrying evolutions is i. a. for us as ÖH the occasion for the proposed conference, which should deconstruct the mind and operating methods of antisemitism, also revealing action strategies against antisemitism.

Goals

This conference is an educational offer to all student, since there is only few institutionalized antisemitism research. One main aspect will be the history of antisemitism in Europe and the Shoah, and another focus will lie on the theoretical functionality of structural antisemitism and contemporary antisemitism.

In addition to the enlightenment and sensitization, possible action and -strategies will be developed and demonstrated.

The program offers a low-threshold access for people who encounter this topic for the first time, while offering the possibility to deepen specific subjects.

Next to lectures and talks, a variety of workshops provide the opportunity of working and participating interactively, allowing the individual acquirement of new knowledge and touch upon the already existing knowledge of the participants.

For a chance, two evening panel discussions will take place, covering the topics ‘antisemitism and universities’ and ‘antisemitism and media’.

In order to permit the participation of as many students as possible, the conference will be free of charge and barrier-free.

The participation is free of charge, only the workshops require advance registration via e-mail to facilitate the planning.