Austrian lawmaker walks back anti-Semitic Facebook comments

Susanne Winter speaking during a news conference in Graz, Austria, Jan. 15, 2008. (Martin Wiesner/ AP Images)

Susanne Winter speaking during a news conference in Graz, Austria, Jan. 15, 2008. (Martin Wiesner/ AP Images)

(JTA) — An Austrian lawmaker who agreed with an anti-Semitic post put on her Facebook  page has walked back her comments.

Susanne Winter, a member of the Austrian Parliament from the far-right Freedom Party, on Friday responded to an anti-Semitic post by a citizen named Oehlmann Hans-Jörg in which he said that “Zionist money Jews are the global problem. Europe, and in particular Germany, are now getting what they deserve from Zionist Jews, particularly rich Zionist Jews in the USA, for the century-long persecution of Jews in Europe. According to the Zionists, Europe, particularly Germany, should be cut off as economic competitors to the U.S.”

Winter responded: “It is great. You are taking the words right out of my mouth. There are a lot of things I am not allowed to write. Therefore I’m even more pleased about courageous, independent people.”

The post appears to have been deleted from her Facebook page, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which on Sunday condemned the statements.

Winter told the Austrian edition of the Der Standard newspaper on Sunday that she was sorry for the post, which she called “foolish.”

“I am not anti-Semitic, I have Jewish friends,” she told the newspaper.

Freedom Party General Secretary Herbert Kickl in a statement called Winter’s post “absolutely unacceptable.”

“The Freedom Party is no place for anti-Semitism,” he said, adding that Winter could be suspended from the party.

Winter is “a disgrace to the Austrian Parliament,” Oskar German, president of the Austrian Jewish Community, told der Standard.

ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt, who is meeting with European officials and the continent’s Jewish community leaders, said in a statement: “Once again, a member of Austria’s Freedom Party has been caught promoting offensive anti-Semitic stereotypes. Susanne Winter’s response to the outrageous comments about Jews and money on her Facebook page shows that, when prompted, she would willingly endorse the worst kind of anti-Semitic stereotypes. These are the same grotesque notions that have bedeviled European Jews for hundreds of years.

“Anti-Semitic stereotypes simply have no place in Austrian society. It is bad enough when they are whispered privately, but far worse when such hateful views emanate directly from a member of parliament who has a bully pulpit to express her ideas.”

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