In the last decade of the communist regime Hungary’s present Prime Minister, Péter Medgyessy, a high-ranking financial official at the time, signed a document about becoming a deep cover officer of the country’s counter-intelligence agency. This fact triggered the so called “Agent Scandal” which for months now has been the focus of public discourse. Attila Novák comments on the case in his editorial: “People at the top of the hierarchy of the communist system were not actual agents,… but their sins are graver, because at a higher level they were the ones operating the system the agents served. They are thus more responsible then those „organized voyeurs” who had often been forced to become agents under blackmail or threats.”
We have asked the leaders of Hungarian Jewish organizations about the case: what are their views about examining the past of the leaders of the community. Out of the twelve people we asked seven replied: five of them supported the idea, two reckoned it was „out of date”. The editors of Szombat believe that “We need to know who did what to be able to form a fair opinion. We have the right to know what the leaders of the community had done and how they lived, used or misused their power.”
Our section on women’s issues (Esther’s Bag) offers the readers „stories untold” which were recited recently at a performance: one about a deported woman returning to her home town, another one about how a girl brought up in a leftist family meets a Hasidic boy, and a third story told by a Christian woman about the „light, aristocratic anti-Semitism” she had experienced as a child in her family.
In our „World” section Kornélia Papp publishes her report from Berlin: about the Jewish cultural association; the problem of Russian immigrants and an interview with Vladimir Kaminer, the recently discovered writer of Russian descent; a piece about the local Jewish bookshop and about the frequently discussed debate between Martin Walser writer and Chancellor Schröder.
In our „Israel” section we publish an interview with Professor Shlomo Avineri who worked as a high ranking official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel during the „peace talks”. Avineri claims „the Arabic world suffers from a serious lack of democracy and in rights for freedom – the Palestinian suicide bombers are but the most extreme example of this. In the Arabic world there are no voices accepting the legitimacy of Israel.”
In our literary section we publish an interview with the late poet, Ottó Orbán. Born to a Jewish father and a Christian mother, he remembers his difficulties in his childhood.