The Official Jewish Community in Hungary has been stressing the need for classifying the negation of the Holocaust and other anti-Semitic discourse inciting hatred, as criminal offense, László Seres believes this is unnecessary claiming that the neo-nazi threat is not significant in today’s Hungary. He finds it unfortunate that as a result people may have the impression that Hungarian Jews are lobbying for the restricting of freedom rights – with occasional help from Jews in America,
Patrícia Margit reviews the newly published book on “Anti-Semitic Discourse in Hungary in 2001”. She claims that the editors of the book have done a thorough job, though she advises them to pay attention to anti-Israel, left-wing writings as well.
“The bureaucratic apparatus have their eyes closed when fulfilling the orders of the executive director, and so do the democratic forums when accepting his suggestions by vote.” – Ferenc Olti, vice president sums up the functioning of the Official Jewish Community. The editors of Szombat sent a letter to the executive director for information on Mr. Olti’s claims. We wanted to find out how he has financial control over the auditing commission, which is supposed to be independent or should in fact be monitoring the executive director’s own work. In his response Gusztáv Zoltai, the executive director accuses Mr. Olti of spreading defamatory propaganda about him. Mr. Zoltai called the accusations untrue. According to Szombat’s sources, two out of five members of the auditing commission have their spouses employed by the Community. A third member is working for the legal department of the community.
In our women’s section we publish an interview with Judit Fenákel Hungarian Jewish author about her recently published saga. “When we came home after the war, everybody wanted to talk about it. What had happened to us was something unseen before! We did want to say so many things… And after a while we spotted that we were not welcome to speak about this… Why did writers start discussing this in the seventies? Because the pressure of the fifties was over by then. And it had such an influence on our private lives as well, to the extent that it defined our days, and even our vocabulary…”
Part of the section this month is a critical survey of Jewish kindergartens in Budapest.
In January 2003 the Chabad Lubavits movement, which in the last decade has done a lot for spreading Jewish traditions, inaugurated their first rabbi since the Second World War who was born in Hungary. Among others the President of the Republic of Hungary, the Mayor of Budapest and the Minister for Education were also present at the celebration. This way the Chabad movement presented an example for Hungarian Jews about how to appear in public with American professionalism.
In our World section we publish the results of a survey on Jews in London. In our Israel section we talk about those Holocaust survivors in Israel whose ancestors had bought land in Palestine at the time of the British Mandate and ever since they have not been able to get their due properties.
András Mezei writer, poet, has written about a number of Jewish topics. His book of poems under the title “Adorno”, dealing with the Hungarian Holocaust, was translated into several languages. In an interview he told us: “It is true that there were Jews taken away from Hungarian villages, but the majority of the village population was welcoming. Hungarians, ethnic Slavs, ethnic Germans were not anti-Semitic. Jewish bartenders or shop owners mixed in, but they did not deny their Jewish identity. They were living together respecting each other until German nazism broke in, along with the criminalized poor, and anti-Semitism supported by the semi-intellectuals of the village. What could have peasants done anyway?”