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November 8, 2018 8:23 am

Hungary: Zero Tolerance for Antisemitism?

avatar by Karl Pfeifer

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The new Holocaust museum called the House of Fates is pictured in Budapest, Hungary, Oct. 15, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Bernadett Szabo.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán repeatedly declares that in Hungary, there is zero tolerance for antisemitism. But recent opinion research among Jews in Hungary shows that while they feel less threatened physically or verbally, antisemitism has become stronger since previous research done nearly 20 years ago.

Why do Jews feel this way, despite the good relations between Hungary and Israel? Because they know that the government propaganda against George Soros, even without mentioning his Jewish origin, is antisemitic. The same goes for the attempts of Orbán and his close friends to rewrite Hungarian history.

Orbán was the most ardent supporter of erecting a statue to honor the antisemitic Bálint Hóman, minister of education during the Horthy period, and later a supporter of the Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross Party. Orbán has also praised Miklós Horthy as “a great statesman.” Horthy was partly responsible for the deportation of almost half a million Hungarian citizens to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Add to this the effort of Sándor Lezsák, Vice-President of the Hungarian Parliament, to rehabilitate the antisemitic thief and murderer Iván Héjjas (1890-1950), the leader of a counter-revolutionary terrorist unit. Héjjas was responsible for the robbery and murder of several hundred Jews.

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On September 19, the revisionist “historian” László Domonkos gave a presentation on his book, in which he claimed that during the Council’s Republic era, the Hungarian Army was dissolved and the special group led by Iván Héjjas was the only and last organized unit that fought “according to regulation in the interest of the homeland.”

At this presentation, Lezsák paid tribute to the book and claimed: “History is always written by the victors. Moreover, the victors have always incited character assassins and paid for them. The ruling victors determine which persons are not fit to be heroes.”

Héjjas and his men were sadistic brutes, who after finishing robbing, torturing, and murdering scores of victims, moved on to Budapest, where they continued to attack, murder, and rob Jews. This is the man that the government’s semi-official paper Magyar Idök is portraying as the savior of the country.

György Pilhál wrote an opinion piece under the title: “We need a bogeyman!” He accuses historians of the Kádár period of falsifying the history of the White Terror in Hungary (1919-1921), which took the lives of about 3,000 people. Perhaps half of these victims were Jews. It also led to 70,000 people being imprisoned, and 100,000 sent into exile. 

In a few months, it will be 100 years since the beginning of the White Terror. The post-communist mafia-state of Prime Minister Orbán has already started to whitewash the “patriotic” perpetrators of these horrendous crimes. So it should be no surprise that Jews are concerned about antisemitism in Hungary.

Karl Pfeifer, born 1928 in Baden bei Wien, and his parents fled Austria in 1938 to Hungary. In January 1943 he successfully escaped as one of 50 children after an adventurous way to Palestine, lived in a kibbutz, served from 1946 in the elite troop Palmach and in the Israeli army until 1950. In 1951 he returned to Austria. From 1982 to 1995 he was editor of the Gemeinde, the official organ of the Jewish community of Vienna and from 1990 until 2005 freelance contributor to Kol Israel’s Reshet Bet.

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