antisemitism,  Europe

Hungarian media at a crossroads

Karl Pfeifer’s lecture to a conference on “Contemporary Hungarian Jewry and other minorities” on November 13 at Tel Aviv University:

Socialist Hungary has expelled me four times between 1980 and 1987 because of my publications. In the winter of 1983, when I was once again allowed back to Budapest, the chief press officer of the Foreign Ministry received me with two surprising statements: “Mr. Pfeifer, we won’t allow you to import Viennese anti-Semitism here.” –”We solved that problem once and for all in 1945 there is no anti-Semitism in Hungary.”

Political, economic and social dislocations following the change of system and the speedy privatization enabled the völkisch (ethnic-nationalist) elements to revive the “Jewish Question” as instrument of politics.

Sándor Csóori a leading intellectual connected with the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) wrote already in autumn 1990 that “liberal Hungarian Jewry wished to ‘assimilate’ the Hungarians in style and thought.”

Anti-Semitism in the Hungarian Media has been constantly trivialized since then by insisting on freedom of opinion as the most important achievement of a democracy. In 1996 János Kis, the leader of the liberal SZDSZ-party stated confidently that Hungarian society would be strong enough to check and curb Nazi paroles. Not so.

Since 1992 a noticeable anti-democratic shift had begun to occur in Hungary, often taking the form of xenophobia, racism and Antisemitism. As a matter of fact International Organizations have complained in their reports before the second Orbán government about Antisemitism in Hungarian media.

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