The failure of Austrian spokesmen to come to grips with the rising tide of anti-Semitism in their country is all too sadly reflected in the op-ed piece by the director of Radio Austria International, Paul Lendvai {"The Smearing of Austria," Nov. 18}.

Although widespread manifestation of anti-Semitism in Austria has been fully documented throughout the year, perhaps too little publicity has been given to this unfortunate phenomenon, and apologists for Austria, like Lendvai, have chosen simply to criticize those who have sought to bring it to light.

A scientific survey conducted on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League by the Department of Journalism at the University of Vienna found that "anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in the Austrian press." Austria's largest circulation daily, Neue Kronen Zeitung, made anti-Semitic references in more than one-third of its stories referring to Jews, the survey found.

In an open letter to the chancellor of Austria, Franz Vranitzky, the president of Austria's tiny Jewish community, Paul Grosz, stated that "hate of Jews, which is being manifested here, cannot be explained by, nor excused by, the dispute over Kurt Waldheim." He noted a spate of incidents during the course of the year when Orthodox Jews had been spat at and given stiff-arm Nazi salutes outside a Vienna synagogue.

The former primate of Austria, Cardinal Franz Koenig, expressed solidarity with his fellow Jewish citizens and declared in July that "if the Jewish community president, among others, reports that Orthodox Jews are once again abused on the streets on occasion, this shows the survival of a mentality we thought long overcome."

On the same occasion, the Lutheran General Secretary of the Austrian Association to Combat Anti-Semitism, Ulrik Trinks, observed that "once again Austrian Jewry is fearful and threatened."

A Gallup survey earlier this year found that 48 percent of Austrians think that "Jews possess too much economic and political influence" and that 38 percent believe Jews were responsible for their own frequent persecution in the past. These are by far the highest figures measured in any Western country.

Nevertheless, despite these undeniable facts, in Waldheim's Austria the response is all too often like that of Paul Lendvai -- to whitewash a stark picture and to react against those who dare speak the truth.

The writer is vice president of the World Jewish Congress.