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!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • 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.