Nytt

Ungarn har en høyreside som er antisemittisk og ungarske jøder føler seg ikke trygge.

World Jewish Congress har lagt sitt årsmøte til Budapest i solidaritet.

Jews have felt at home and prospered in Hungary since the fall of the Communist regime, but “over the past decade, things have changed” and fear has returned, Dr. Peter Feldmajer, president of the Hungarian Jewish community, told the congress on Tuesday. The 59-year-old said the recent attacks against Jews and the attempted anti-Semitic legislation were “warning bells” that cannot be ignored.

Chief among Jewish fears in Hungary is the rise of the ultra-rightist Jobbik party, which openly espouses anti-Semitic views and won 12 percent of parliamentary seats in 2010 elections.

Today Budapest is ”where an elderly rabbi is attacked in the street … where fascists are heard … where anti-Semite authors are added to the school curriculum,” Feldmajer said, detailing some of the problems felt by people trying to live a Jewish life in the Hungarian capital.

Anti-Semitic graffiti (illustrative photo: CC BY zeeweez, Flickr)

Members of the extreme right, led by the Jobbik, have already killed people from the Roma minority; the Jews fear they’re next in line, a member of the community said. “The question isn’t if, it’s when,” he said, pointing at boosted security — which includes surveillance and policemen — around the various community establishments,

While most local Jews were willing to speak openly, some feared having their name mentioned in such a story. Others were reluctant to even be interviewed.

“It’s only a matter of time before someone is hurt,” Oren Glick, who oversees the kosher certification of the community’s restaurants, said after morning prayers in one of the synagogues. The Israeli-born, ultra-Orthodox Glick said the anti-Semitism, though not yet life threatening, is visible and present every day, near every Jewish establishment in town.

“One of the school teachers has a neighbor who spits when he walks by. It happens on his way to work, every single day,” Glick explained, adding that the amount of security — both by the police and the community — “is extremely high, more than before, because curses and spitting will eventually turn into physical assaults.”

Yitzhak, a community member who wished to avoid having his full Hungarian name in print, bemoaned that he had little hope in the World Jewish Congress meeting or their statements. “What difference will it make?” he asked, noting that the Jobbik party was gaining power in parliament.

“People can talk, and maybe draw attention to the matter,” he said. But, he added, some of the actions — such as the closing of streets and the positioning of policemen on street corners, meant to protect the hundreds of WJC delegates — is counterproductive and only causes antagonism. “At the end of the day [the delegates] will leave Budapest and we’ll have to deal with reality.”

A similar opinion was voiced by a member of the Hungarian delegation to the congress, who said that the problem can be solved only if there is dialogue between the Jewish community and the Hungarian political leadership. “If it takes the WJC to draw attention [to the issue], it shows just how bad the situation is,” he said.

Dr. Peter Feldmajer (photo credit: screen capture/WJC)

The delegate explained how the Jobbik party, infamous for calling to start a registry of Jews in the country, has grown stronger in recent years, due to the combination of the global financial crisis and internal Hungarian politics. “People see problems that aren’t being solved, and they try to make their own solution,” he stated. “Blaming Jews, Roma and others is a way of venting one’s anger and frustration.”

Budapest’s Jewish community “is once again under threat,” community leader Feldmajer said, shortly after keynote speakers — including WJC President Ronald Lauder and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban — likened the situation today to that of the 1930s.

“I don’t see an incident like [the 1938] Kristallnacht happening in the near future, but I do worry individuals might start to commit more serious acts,” Ban replied when asked whether the situation would grow worse. “People are frustrated and are taking it out on the Jews. Orban says the acts are bad, but he isn’t speaking out against the Jobbik party because he needs votes,” he charged.

“I don’t think Orban is an anti-Semite … rather, he wants power” — and he made some questionable decisions to achieve it, Ban said, adding that 20 years ago the Hungarian prime minister was one of his favorite politicians. “He was brave, charismatic. He represented real liberal values.”

Denes Ban (photo credit: Aaron Kalman)

Businessman Ban said one of the biggest problems is the lack of initiative when it comes to combating anti-Semitism in Hungary. “We respond, but we don’t create dialogue or educate people before this happens,” he elaborated, explaining that “using the Holocaust card” as a joker to guilt-trip the other side was problematic and couldn’t be done forever.