András Schiff, although rarely available for press interviews about his musical career, answered by e-mail the following questions from The Forward about growing anti-Semitism in Hungary:
THE FORWARD: Is there any cause for optimism in the near or immediate future about the situation in Hungary?
ANDRÁS SCHIFF: There is always hope, but not too soon. This government has been properly elected by a great majority. They are very popular and they will stay for a great number of years.
However, there is no reason why Mr. Orban shouldn’t distance himself from the extreme right. Also, the kind of racism, anti-Semitism and nationalism that is generally accepted in Hungary is outrageous. This doesn’t mean that it’s official, but nevertheless it’s more than tolerated by the government. It shouldn’t be.
Is there something uniquely Hungarian which makes a “symbolic death threat,” such as you recently received from a friend of Mr. Orban’s, different from an actual death threat?
To me it’s unique, because I haven’t received one anywhere else. Coming from a family of Holocaust survivors (and related to dozens who haven’t survived) — it is clear that I never want to go there again. Even if many people love me there. The latter ones are very quiet now.
What can readers of The Forward do to help the unfortunate Jews and other personae non grata who have to remain in Hungary while all this is happening?
It’s very important that the press and the media in other countries keep an eye on Hungary and keep reporting on various issues there. There will not be a free press there, so help can only come from outside.