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The Work of the Union of Austrian Jews

The Union of Austrian Jews was always at its post when any question came up which seemed to threaten the interests of Austrian Jewry, says the report presented to the Annual Conference of the Union, which has just been held here under the chairmanship of the President, Dr. Ornstein. The Union, the Secretary, Herr Oscar Hirschfeld, who presented the report, said, had opposed the so-called student order at Vienna University, which was dictated by race principles and the law court had approved the stand taken by the Union in this regard. The Union had also stood out against the proposals for the reform of the Constitution which had been introduced into Parliament and had fought for the removal of those provisions which seemed to imperil the principle of equal rights of the Jewish citizens. The reform of the Press Law had given an opportunity to Jewish bodies to demand the right of protection against insult to Jews and Judaism and against incitement in the antisemitic press. The Vice-Premier, Dr. Schober, who was Prime Minister at that time, had told a deputation headed by the President of the Union, Dr. Ornstein, that this demand was entirely justified. The Minister of Justice at the time had promised to reform the Press Law in this direction. The Union gave also a great deal of attention to fighting the antisemitic agitation at the summer resorts, and considerable improvement had been obtained in this regard. At the time of the Vaugoin Government, in which the Heimwehr leaders, Prince Starhelmberg and Dr. Hueber, had occupied ministerial positions and when open pogroms had been preached, the Union had carried on an active campaign against the antisemitic agitation. The attitude of the Union in supporting the Schober bloc in the elections had been proved by the results to have been right.

The Union, the report further said, continues to be in excellent relations with its sister organisation, the Central Union of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, which it takes as its model in its own work, and it had received visits during the year from two of the leaders of the German Union, Dr. Ludwig Hollaender and Dr. Alfred Wiener.

Speaking of internal Jewish affairs and the attitude of the Union towards the Zionists, Dr. Hirschfeld spoke strongly against the efforts of the Zionists to convert the Jewish religious community into a national community. The Union, he said, is interested in a purely colonisational Palestine reconstruction work. The question of participation in the extended Jewish Agency had placed the Union before a very serious problem. The Union held that it was its duty to enter the Jewish Agency, but it wanted adequate safeguards against attempts being made to convert this consultative body which had been established in accord with the League of Nations and the British Government into a Jewish national or an international Jewish political institution. The question of the Jewish Agency, Herr Hirschfeld concluded his report, will come up again shortly before the Central Board.

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