The World Jewish Congress has met in Hungary, home to the third largest Jewish community in Europe, in order to raise awareness about growing anti-Semitism in Hungarian politics and culture.
The Jobbik Party, the third largest political party within the Hungarian Parliament is a Neo-Nazi party that recently called for the formation of lists of Jews serving in the Hungarian government, claiming that they are disloyal. Jobbik party members give out Nazi salutes, host anti-Semitic marches, and have black booted uniformed militants which have attacked members of the countries’ Jewish community. Given such a political situation; the Hungarian Jewish community is concerned for its future within the country. The precarious state of the Hungarian Jewish community caused the World Jewish Congress to decide to meet in Hungary instead of Israel.
President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, proclaimed in Budapest, “Less than one hundred years ago, a quarter of this great city’s population was Jewish. Hungary’s Jews contributed to the country’s economy, its culture, and its universities as well as its extraordinary tradition of mathematics and science. […] The rise of anti-Semitic parties in the 1920s and the 1930s led to the darkest chapter of all – the deportation and gassing of more than 400,000 Jewish men, women and children. A staggering one-third of the 1.1 million Jews murdered at Auschwitz were Hungarian.”
He continued, “It is so clear that if these dark forces of anti-Semitism had not been allowed to rise in the 20th century – not just Jews but all Hungarians would have prospered. This always strikes me as so obvious – when Jews are allowed to live their lives freely and practice their religion, countries always flourish. It is obvious. But all too often, the irrational hatred that is Anti-Semitism defeats common sense. […} I am recalling these facts now not because we are not familiar with them, but because today we are seeing, once again, growing ignorance, growing intolerance, growing hatred. Once again we see the outrage of anti-Semitism.”
Violent attacks have been on the increase in Hungary ever since the rise of the Jobbik Party. Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust memorials have been desecrated within the country. Swastikas have been sprayed on synagogues. The chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Association, an organization that fights anti-Semitism, was beaten up by Neo-Nazis thugs, and pro-Nazi writings have been added to the Hungarian school curriculum. An estimated 100,000 Jews live in Hungary under these conditions.
Anti-Semtic sentiments are also seen in the Hungarian city of Tiszavasvári, a stronghold for the Jobbik Party which recently twinned with Ardabil, a city located within the Islamic Republic of Iran. “You can see Jobbik’s true nature through this,” said Peter Feldmajer, the President of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities. “They hate the Jewish people, and so does the Iranian government, and that is why they have formed this allegiance. It is a shame for Tiszavasvári, and it hurts the memories of those Jewish people who lived there.”
By Rachel Avraham