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Criticism of colonialism must continue to be permitted

How does the local council ensure freedom of expression?

5. December 2019
Open letter to the Chairman of the Vienna City Council Thomas Reindl and the President of the Vienna Parliament, Ernst Woller

The Vienna City Council has taken a number of unanimous decisions against anti-Semitism. In principle this is to be welcomed. However, the satisfaction is clouded by the fact that there is no resolution on the current aggressive smear campaign against Muslims.

What is more, criticism of Israeli colonialism and the oppression of the Palestinian people is to be labelled anti-Semitic and subsequently even stopped. The anti-fascist basic consensus is thus turned against democracy and human rights, which should be equally enjoyed by all. The BDS boycott campaign, launched by Palestinian civil society according to the South African model, which aims to achieve nothing more than compliance with the relevant UN resolutions in a peaceful manner, is thereby placed in the crosshairs.


The tragic result is that all this ultimately amounts to an unchallenged support for Israel’s ultra-right government. Indeed very moderate and even Jewish critics of Israeli politics are not immune to being defamed as anti-Semites.


– The dramatic consequence is that events critical of Israel in Vienna are hardly possible any more – at least not in public nor in the vicinity of cities. But also in the private sphere the fear of the threatening smear campaign, which likes to refer to the decisions of the local council, is growing ever greater.


A few examples among dozens that show how freedom of expression has already been massively restricted:

·      Paula Abrams-Hourani, the late founder of the association “Women in Black” and a Jewish Viennese by choice, was deprived of a room in the publicly funded Amerlinghaus for a film screening. The campaign was initiated by the FPÖ. (2016).

·      Hedy Epstein, meanwhile also deceased Jewish Holocaust survivor, was uninvited in 2016 because of her criticism of Israel by Doris Bures, SPÖ, President of Parliament, from an event in parliament in which she was to speak with other contemporary witnesses about war and fascism. 

·      Ronnie Kasril a Jewish companion of Nelson Mandela in the fight against apartheid, former minister in South Africa and today representative of BDS, was not allowed to speak at an event in March 2019, neither in the Volkskundemuseum nor in a private hotel, after the contract agreements were terminated at short notice with reference to the local council’s decision.

·      Hanin Zoabi, former Arab Knesset deputy, was not allowed to speak at the publicly funded WUK in May 2019. Birgit Hebein, the current Vice Mayor of the Green Party, had intervened referring to a “secret dossier” of the DÖW. 

·      A cinema evening with the Argentinean film “¡Yallah ¡Yallah” about Palestinian football youths did not take place in September 2019, as the private Artis cinema chain, shortly before the Austrian premiere, cancelled the contract with the organisers on the grounds of the local council’s decision.


We ask:

·      – Who does the “Expert Commission” or the “Monitoring Committee”, which always acts behind the scenes in the interests of the Israeli occupation, consist of?

·      – If such a body is necessary at all, shouldn’t its members not only be named, but also represent the various views on the conflict?

We demand:

·      The Vienna Municipal Council should take a decision to secure freedom of expression and thus ensure that:
– Criticism of colonialism and population segregation becomes possible again in public spaces of the City of Vienna and
– the political demand for compliance with the relevant UN resolutions must not be branded as anti-Semitism.
If you support the letter write to


·       Univ. Prof. Dr. Walter Sauer, Historiker, Wien

·       Samuel Welber, Jüdische Stimme für gerechte Frieden in Nahost, Wien

·       Bernhard Heitz, emeritierter Bischof der Altkatholischen Kirche

·       Mag.Dr. Meinrad Schneckenleithner, Vizepräsident Pax Christi

·       Kaplan Franz Sieder, Pax Christi, Amstetten

·       Franz Sölkner, Friedens- und Öko-Aktivist, Thal bei Graz

·       Stephan Bartunek, Medienaktivist, Gruppe42, Wien

·       Abhijit Ghosh, Pensionist, Multikultureller Stammtisch, Amstetten

·       Leo Gabriel, Sozialanthropologe und Mitglied im Rat des Weltsozialforums, Wien

·       Karl Helmreich, Benediktinermönch, Hirtenberg

·       Stefan Grasgruber-Kern, entwicklungspolitischer Aktivist und Sektionsvorsitzender SPÖ, Wien

·       Mary Pampalk, Frauen in Schwarz, Wien

·       Joseph Pampalk, Priester und Entwicklungshelfer im südlichen Afrika, Wien

·       Birgit Englert, Assoziierte Professorin für Afrikanische Geschichte und Gesellschaft, Wien

·       Wilhelm Langthaler, Autor und Aktivist für eine gerechtere Weltordnung, Wien

·       Andreas Auzinger, KPÖ Innviertel, Ried

·       Hannes Hofbauer, Publizist, Wien

·       Elisabeth Lindner-Riegler, pensionierte AHS-Lehrerin, Wien

·       Waltraud Schauer, ehemaliger menschlicher Schutzschild im Irak, Wien

·       Dr. Angela Waldegg, Künstlerin, Wien

·       Christine Hödl, Pensionistin, Graz

·       Gerhilde Merz, Friedensaktivistin und Mitglied von Pax Christi, Linz

·       Irina Vana, Soziologin, Wien

·       Eva Obemeata-Gimoh, Sozialarbeiterin, Wien

·       Frigga Karl, Menschenrechtsaktivistin, Wien/Paris

·       Murat Gürol, IT-Techniker, Wien

·       Thomas Pierer, KPÖ-Steiermark, Bruck an der Mur

·       David Stockinger, Vorsitzender SPÖ Schwechat, Vorstandsmitglied Solidarwerkstatt Österreich

·       Doris Höflmayer, Ärztin, Wien/Hamburg

·       Peter Unterweger, Sekretär Internationaler Metallgewerkschaftsbund, i. R, Wien/USA

·       Ursula Sagmeister, Frauen in Schwarz Wien, Maria Enzersdorf

·       Albert F. Reiterer, Gesellschaftswissenschaftler und Publizist, Wien

·       Boris Lechthaler, Solidarwerkstatt Österreich, St. Leonhard b. Freistadt

·       Karin Pilz, Aktivistin, Wien

·       Mag. Dieter Kurz, Pax Christi Stmk, Hausmannstätten

·       Maria Ziesler, Komitee Frieden für die Ukraine, Pöllauberg

·       Dr. Mag. Josef Windischer, Obmann Vinzenzgemeinschaft Waldhüttl, Innsbruck

·       Gerald Oberansmayr, Verleger, Solidarwerkstatt

·       Oliver F. Hashemizadeh, Angestellter und Aktivist

·       Marcus Scholz, Angestellter und Aktivist

·       Christian Schillinger, Aktivist, Wien

·       Dr. Ingeborg Grau, Afrika-Historikerin, Wien

·       Dr. Bea de Abreu Fialho Gomes, Afrikawissenschaftlerin, Wien

·       Erwin Bartsch, IT-Techniker, Wien

·       Helmut Seidl, Zimmerer/Kunstschmied und Kulturanthropologe, Pöllauberg

·       Christl Meyer, Biologin/Ethik, Frauen in Schwarz, Wien

·       Mag.a Andrea Mayer-Edoloeyi, Theologin, Solidarwerkstatt, Linz

·       Thomas Eiler, Angestellter, Wien

·       Walter Wolf, MBA, Amstetten

·       Johanna Weichselbaumer, Solidarwerkstatt Österreich, Alkoven

·       Waltraud Torossian, Architekt, Entwicklungshilfe Pakistan, Flüchtlingshilfe Libanon, Wien

·       Rudolf Schober, Gemeinderat der SPÖ Ottensheim

·       Gerhard Summer, Vermessungstechniker, BDS Austria, Wien

·       Daniel Jungmayer, IT-Consultant, BDS Austria, Wien

·       Roswitha Al-Hussein, Aktivistin, Graz



·       Doris Ghannam, Menschenrechtsaktivistin, Berlin



·       Solidarwerkstatt Österreich

·       Dar al Janub – Verein für antirassistische und friedenspolitische Initiative

·       Steirische Friedensplattform

·       Antiimperialistische Koordination