Hungary Jews Unite Amid Furor Over 'List'

Community Becomes Vocal Amid Rising Anti-Semitism

No to Neo-Nazis: A Hungarian boy carries the country’s flag at a rally to denounce the far right Jobbik Party.
getty images
No to Neo-Nazis: A Hungarian boy carries the country’s flag at a rally to denounce the far right Jobbik Party.

By Reuters

Published December 16, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

“I think such a conflict makes it timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary,” he told parliament.

Hungary’s centre-right government condemned the remarks, for which Gyongyosi later apologised, and the U.S. Embassy in Budapest called them “outrageous”.

Although anti-Semitism has not yet led to serious physical confrontations, hate crimes have included desecration of Jewish cemeteries and a verbal attack in Budapest on 90-year-old former Chief Rabbi Joseph Schweitzer.

“I don’t think all people who vote for Jobbik are anti-Semites,” said Slomo Koves, the chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation.

“But if Jobbik brings it into the public discourse, even people who were not anti-Semites before, they feel like it’s a way to show your frustration… The problem is that this has an effect on the state of mind of all Hungarians.”

UNITY

Andras Heisler, a leader of Mazsihisz, the Association of Jewish Communes in Hungary, said Jobbik was a danger to Hungary.

“I think this is real racism and inciting hatred. A bad economic situation, recession, usually flames tempers and this is the case now as well.”

Laden with debt and hit hard by the wider debt crisis in Europe, the country is struggling to end recession and sort out its finances, and a series of austerity measures have increased tensions on the street.

Anti-Semitism has made some Jews more determined to stand up for their heritage, said Zoltan Jakal, a 36-year-old financial analyst and part-time cantor.

“I have several friends who have strengthened their Jewish identity because of a few incidents with anti-Semites,” Jakal said. “When there’s peace people tend to forget they are Jews. If nobody else reminds them of this, anti-Semites will.”

Hungary’s political elite showed a rare gesture of unity at a big rally on Dec. 2, where ruling and opposition party leaders expressed their disdain for Jobbik’s politics.

So far, polls suggest Jobbik has retained its voter base. Among young voters its support is nearly 20 percent, making it the strongest party in the age group below 30, according to a Republikon Institute poll earlier this year.

But unlike its hugely successful anti-Roma rhetoric, anti-Semitism may end up working against Jobbik on the long run, Republikon Institute Director Csaba Toth told Reuters, because it will put off potential coalition partners.

“Anti-Semitism gets far fewer votes,” he said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.