This is a guest post by Karl Pfeifer
I am told not to be alarmed when I encounter aggressive antisemitism in Hungary. After all there exists a vibrant Jewish culture in Budapest and there is hope the conservative Fidesz will curb the development of aggressive Anti-Semitism’s although it is tolerating implicit and not so implicit Anti-Semitism of some its politicians and journalists at present. Fidesz is supposed to do it only to attract Jobbik voters. A dim hope indeed, when a random sample of Hungarian media shows beyond any doubt that the ongoing antisemitic hate campaigns rank with those of the Hungarian arrow-cross Nazis.
Erzsébet Scipiades wrote in leftwing daily “Népszava” Article “Hello Nazi” about a discussion between teachers and pupils after the performance of a play in which a young German neo-Nazi and a young Pole share the same German cell, which casts a damning light on some Hungarian schools.
A well-groomed lady teacher says: “I think the play is optimistic compared to what I see around me. […] In our school pupils prepare lists of Jewish children and collect signatures demanding them to be expelled. Or they paint a Star of David on the chair of Jewish children. Or they ask a Jewish teacher what are you doing here, why don’t you go to Israel.”
But antisemitism is not limited to schools. Thanks to János Kis and his liberal party there is no law restricting hate preachers. In 1997 Kis published “Freedom of speech and Nazi discourse” demanding freedom of speech for Nazis, considering this a problem of society and not of the legal system. He is very quiet nowadays, when Hungarian society fails to push back racism and antisemitism.
So it’s no surprise to find a long list of Jews and alleged ‘Jews’ in Hungarian public life complete with pictures on ‘Metapedia’, a neo-arrow-cross website claiming to be a ‘national’ lexicon.
Hungarian Nazis have put another absurd list – starting of course with Karl Marx – on YouTube: “Jews, the people of revenge.”
Needless to say a lot of their ‘Jews’ are not Jewish at all.
The old Nazi propaganda can be legally rehashed and many Hungarians take to it. They consider the Jew, pulling strings behind the scenes, the root of evil. The diversity of Jewish existence is taken as proof of the existence of this mythical hate-figure. The intellectual assimilated Jew stands for the despised modernity; the religious Orthodox Jew fits into the traditional image of Christian Anti-Semitism; the economically successful Jew stands for ‘money-grubbing capital’ and liberalism and the Jewish socialist for abominable ‘Marxism’.
So at the beginning of the 21st century we encounter Hungarians who believe in the National Socialist utopia of the “Volksgemeinschaft” – the national community of people to which Jews, per definition, durst not belong.
When in spring 1944 about half a million Jews were deported within six weeks with the consent of Horthy and the zealous help of Hungarian Police and Gendarmerie, the Nazis and their Hungarian collaborators promised the Hungarians a real Volksgemeinschaft. Many ‘little’ Hungarian arrow-cross perpetrators found later their way into the communist party and after the war several pogroms took place. This can partly explain why so many Hungarian Jews avoid any contact with the Jewish community and Jewish organisations.
If you want to understand Hungary in the 21st century, visit Budapest and see a plaque placed in the military history museum in memory of the Hungarian gendarmes, an organisation whose record in the Holocaust can be compared to that of the SS.
I heard more than once in Hungary “Anti-Semitism is typical for old and uneducated people” by those who tend to play its existence down. However 40 years of ’socialism’ and ‘prescribed anti-fascism’ and 20 years of tolerance and ‘freedom of speech’ did not prevent antisemitism becoming a significant force in all walks of life. Young extreme right-wing educated people are pathologically preoccupied with Jews and Gypsies, as the above websites testify.
The writing is on the wall.