Syrian refugee arrested for violent attack on Austrian Jewish leader

The Austrian authorities apprehended a Syrian refugee on Sunday for allegedly attacking the leader of the Jewish community in the city of Graz.According to a report in the mass circulation paper Kronen, police officers arrested the 26-year-old Syrian suspect in Graz. He had fled Syria six years ago; his name was not released.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday that an assailant on Saturday attacked the president of the tiny Jewish community in Austria’s second largest city, with what is believed to have been a baseball bat.When Elie Rosen, head of the 150-member Jewish community, left his car, he was attacked by the stranger with a wooden stick and managed to escape back into the car. The attacker hit Rosen’s vehicle with a bat before he fled.The Graz synagogue was attacked twice over the past week. Last Wednesday, antisemitic pro-Palestinian graffiti was smeared on the building.The slogan “Free Palestine” was written on the synagogue, a phrase that typically means the elimination of the Jewish state.“In Graz, we are dealing with a stronger left wing and anti-Israel antisemitism,” he said. “We can clearly determine that.” The attack was not carried out by right-wing extremists, Rosen told the daily Wiener Zeitung.

It is unclear if the Syrian man is also being charged with defacing the synagogue.In a letter to Rosen, Shimon Samuels, director for international relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, wrote: “You carry a great responsibility for the phoenix character of rebirth of the Graz synagogue, burned down in the Kristallnacht Reichspogrom of 1938. Yet we find troubling the recidivist assaults on the synagogue, first the outer wall smeared with Palestinian activist slogans, next the smashing of windows, followed by this attack against you.”Samuels added that: “You have received expressions of support from political leaders across all parties in Austria. They must also take action to prevent recurrence, by timely identification, indictment and punishment of the perpetrators.”The Simon Wiesenthal Center stands in solidarity with you and your community.”

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