Social Democrat 'Consultant' Allegedly Set Up Fake Anti-Semitic Group to Discredit Populists

Oct. 09, 2017

The Austrian Social Democrats (SPÖ) have been rocked by scandal after news emerged that one of its paid consultants created a Facebook page against Austrian People’s Party leader Sebastian Kurz filled with anti-Semitic content.

The scandal dates back to January of this year when allegations of “dirty campaigning” first emerged regarding the work of consultant Tal Silberstein. Mr. Silberstein is said to have created various social media accounts for the Social Democrats to attack Sebastian Kurz, including one with overtly anti-Semitic content and was paid 536,000 euros by the SPÖ, Die Presse reports.

It is claimed Silberstein set up the anti-Semitic page in a deliberate attempt to pass it off as a fan page of political rival Kurz in a bid to smear his supporters.

Initially, SPÖ leader and current Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern was dismissive of claims that Silberstein was engaged in dirty campaigning for his party. In July, the anti-mass migration Freedom Party (FPÖ) also started accusing Silberstein of various dirty tactics against them as well.

The dismissiveness of Kern ended in August when Silberstein was arrested in Israel in connection with charges of money laundering and corruption. Chancellor Kern later made a statement saying Silberstein had been fired and that his role within the party was minor.

On September 30th, Die Presse reported that Silberstein and his team were behind the Facebook pages “The Truth About Sebastian Kurz” and “We for Sebastian Kurz” where racist and anti-Semitic content was posted and claimed the pages were commissioned by the SPÖ.

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