Austria’s scheduling of an EU leaders’ summit to begin on Yom Kippur — the Jewish Day of Atonement — is raising questions of cultural sensitivity at a time of rising pro-Christian rhetoric among European politicians and signs of resurgent anti-Semitism.
Jewish leaders said the scheduling conflict reflects an unfortunate but unsurprising lack of attention to their religious calendar. The situation is especially awkward for Austria, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU and has long struggled with allegations of state-sponsored intolerance.
Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) is a member of the country’s governing coalition, and its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, is vice chancellor. While Strache has repudiated anti-Semitism, Jewish leaders in Austria say anti-Jewish sentiment is at the core of FPÖ’s ideology and still pervades it ranks.