The below speech was delivered on behalf of Rabbi Arthur Schneier at the Conference on Jewish Life and Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Europe in Budapest, Hungary on October 1-2, 2013.
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, distinguished delegates,
We are honored that our Trustee, His Eminence Cardinal Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and President of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe is representing the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. We are pleased to join the Lantos Foundation and the Hungarian Government in support of Conference on Jewish Life and Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Europe.
Sadly, years after the Holocaust it is still a timely topic. May I call to your attention that we meet on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the deportations of most of Hungarian Jewry to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. I know because I was in Budapest experiencing man’s inhumanity to man during this tragic chapter in Hungarian history – I was here during the Nazi occupation. It should be noted that the legal approval for the persecution of Hungarian citizens of the Jewish faith was done in this Parliament where we are meeting today and was enacted by Hungarian legislators.
We cannot change what was. We must learn from the past and be vigilant and alert to the reappearance of the scourge of anti-Semitism. This is why our interfaith Appeal of Conscience Foundation has been in the forefront of helping advance religious freedom, human rights, peace and tolerance.
May we resolve to return to our homes determined to resist dissemination of hatred and to educate our children to respect the “the other” for the well-being and unity of our respective nations. Let us strengthen the forces that unite and not divide us. Let us safeguard the democratic values that have earned Hungary and honorable place in the European Union and guarantee peace and prosperity on the European continent that experienced too many conflicts in the past.
Appeal of Conscience Foundation encourages all states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and the media to promote through education a culture of mutual respect and tolerance for the diversity of religions, the collective heritage of mankind.
God bless you.