Anti-Semitic remarks have now become part of common talk, characterising not only the extreme right but Hungary’s conservative circles as well, Peter Feldmajer, head of the federation of Hungarian Jewish communities Mazsihisz said on Thursday.
Feldmajer addressed a session of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-semitism, and said that though the Hungarian government firmly condemned anti-Semitic expressions “in general” and does much to keep the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, it “borrows slogans from the extreme right to woo their voters”. He added that the radical nationalist Jobbik is continuously leading attacks against the Jewish people.
Feldmajer also said that Holocaust monuments and Jewish cemeteries had been vandalised on many occasions and Jewish people were assaulted in the street. He condemned the police for what he saw as an inadequate response to those incidents.
The Jewish leader complained about the education government’s recent decision to include some authors that identified themselves with Anti-Semitism in the national curriculum. He mentioned that public places have been renamed after Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s regent in the interwar period, who was “factually and directly responsible for the Holocaust”.
Feldmajer, however, said that the situation in Hungary is much better than in many European countries, for example in France where “tragic terror attacks take place.”
Hungary “not brave enough” in facing Holocaust responsibility
Hungary, unlike Germany, has not been brave enough in facing up to its share of the responsibility for the Holocaust, Prof. Randolph Braham, an academic noted for his studies of the Hungarian Holocaust, said in a lecture given at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Two hundred thousand Hungarians participated in implementing the final solution, including gendarmes, police and civil servants, Braham told the audience of around 200 people on Wednesday local time.
He said after the war, the communist regime had swept responsibility for these actions under the carpet. Today, he said, attempts were being made to pass the blame on to others.
Paul Shapiro, Director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, said that worries had emerged over anti-Semitic incidents in Hungary in 2008, when symbols of fascism also started to re-emerge in public. He said the then opposition Fidesz party had failed to join in public condemnation of such manifestations.
He noted that the ruling Fidesz party had played an important role in establishing the Budapest Holocaust Memorial Museum. But concerns over rising anti-Semitism after Fidesz’s return to power had been verified, he said, noting a statement last week by Sara Bloomfield, head of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, raising concerns about the “rehabilitation of the fascist ideologies and leaders of WWII”.
Shapiro also made reference to the decision of Elie Wiesel, one of the founders of the Holocaust Museum, to renounce a high Hungarian state award he received in 2004 in protest against the Hungarian government for participating in attempts for the reburial of ethnic Hungarian author Jozsef Nyiro, who was also an Arrow Cross Party lawmaker during the regime of Ferenc Szalasi.