Vienna’s Most Controversial Statue Is of a Still-Beloved Mayor Who Wedded Anti-Semitism to Democratic Politics

In the past two years, the United State has seen a series of controversies over the fate of statues of historical figures whose real or imagined sins have rendered them unfashionable. Just this week, New York City’s municipal government decided to remove a sculpture of Thomas Jefferson from city hall. The people of Vienna, influenced by the American example, have been dealing with a more complex case: the prominent likeness of Karl Lueger, who was the city’s mayor from 1897 to 1910. An immensely popular figure who did much to modernize the city, Lueger and his Christian Social Party also made anti-Semitism a key part of their political platform, and Viennese enthusiasm for Lueger did much to convince Theodor Herzl that Jews had no future in Europe. Liam Hoare explains:

The monument is one of the largest in Vienna. At its summit stands Lueger, thirteen feet tall, cast in bronze, staring out eastward across the Ringstrasse, [the grand boulevard that surrounds the city’s historic central district], as if addressing an expectant crowd. His feet are placed upon an enormous octagonal stone pedestal which is layered like a wedding cake. Its sides are engraved with reliefs depicting his various achievements: the municipalization of the gas and electricity supplies, the preservation of the forests surrounding Vienna, entitlements for widows and orphans, and charitable housing for the destitute. Its scale, position, and propagandistic quality all stand to burnish the cult of Lueger.

Even if Lueger himself was not [personally] an anti-Semite—and the historian Florian Wenninger tells me he suspects he was not—it was certainly the case that through anti-Semitic rabble-rousing, anti-Jewish agitation, and a party platform steeped in nationalism and xenophobia, as well as Germanic and Catholic supremacism, Lueger rode a wave of hatred and hostility among the Viennese lower-middle class to reach the highest office in city hall.

It was Lueger who, for instance, campaigned against the “Judaization” of the University of Vienna, which Lueger decreed to be a matter of “Christian” honor, and for a numerus clausus [restrictive quota] to protect “German-Austrians” against the influx of what he termed Hungarians and Galicians, [by which he meant Jews]. Rhetorically, Lueger often couched his anti-Semitism as a defense of Christianity, but his underlying ideology was evidently grounded in ideas of ethnicity or nationhood.

Another famous Viennese, Adolf Hitler, was one of Lueger’s most devoted admirers.

Read more at K.

More about: Adolf Hitler, Anti-Semitism, Austria, Theodor Herzl, Thomas Jefferson, Vienna


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security