The appearance of a small. Arrow-Cross group with no more than about 50 members, which planned to hold a demonstration on October 15 (the day the Hungarian Nazis. Hitler’s last allies, seized power in 1944), caused a storm in Hungarian public life. In Attila Novák’s view, however, the entire affair has been blown up out of all proportion, and it only serves to strengthen the identity of the political Left and the official Jewish community – the real danger lies elsewhere, namely that the mainstream Right is legitimizing the anti-Semitic voices centred around the extreme right weekly Magyar Demokrata.
“Operation Last Chance”, launched by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, aimed at tracking down war criminals and bringing them to trial was received unfavourably not only by the Right, but also by the Left in Hungary. János Gadó discusses the possible reasons for this unfavourable reception. In his view, there are two main reasons. On the one hand, at the core of the operation initiated by the Wiesenthal Centre is the effort to publicize Eastern Europe’s responsibility in the persecution of the Jews during World War 2, which has by now become something of a commonplace in Hungary, and many Hungarian Holocaust scholars feel that the Centre is largely ignoring their work in this field. On the other, the Centre is essentially based in the US and Israel, both countries whose prestige is rather low even in “progressive” left-wing public opinion.
“George Soros dislikes two things about himself: that he is a capitalist and that he is Jewish. His books, his articles, his lectures and his interviews reflect how he has arrived at a rather curious interpretation of “open societies”, which in his case incorporates also a critique of globalisation and capitalism. His assertion that Israel, Jewry and he himself is also responsible for growing anti-Semitism, made in November last year, stirred a great public outcry.” László Seres and Attila Novák offer an analysis of the policies pursued by the renowned businessman.
Discussed in this month’s media review are the deceptive voices in the spirit of political correctness in the left-wing media and the spitefulness of the right-wing media as far as issues regarding Jews and the Near East are concerned. Left-wing writers regularly obscure the fact that the Islam fundamentalism lies at the heart of terrorism, claiming that “extremists are to be found everywhere” in the spirit of political correctness. In an article published on September 11, 2004, Magyar Nemzet, a right-wing daily, expressed the opinion that “it is still unclear who can be blamed for the terrorist attacks on September 11”, and cautiously propagates the lie (popular among the extreme right, the extreme left and radical Islam) that the US and Israel are to be blamed for the tragedy.
“Tragedy does not end with the burial of the dead; for many people, the daily fight against changed health and, often, mental conditions begins that very day – the struggle with the recurring images of the tragedy, the struggle to overcome fear, enabling the victim to board a bus again and to venture into the city.” Zsuzsa Shiri describes the Israeli social worker network caring for the victims of terrorism.
An article on the activity of the Hungarian Jewish Social Help Fund examines the question of what support members of the Jewish community can count on in addition to the traditional social care, to whom families can turn with second and third generation Holocaust-related traumas and what kind of help they can expect.
The Hungarian Orthodox community elected a new president in August following the death of Herman Fixler, who filled this post for over thirty-five years. László Herczog, the new president, was the earlier chief secretary of the community. In Márton Csáki’s view, one of the positive changes compared to the earlier, strong hand leadership style, is that the elections elicited a great interest and a flurry of activity among community members.
“Jewish stones in the Hungarian landscape” – Gábor T. Szántó describes his tour of the synagogues and cemeteries in northeaster Hungary and southern Slovakia.
In the centre of Susan Rubin Suleiman’s writing (“Zirc”) is a family photo made in February, 1944, on which a four year old Jewish girl smiles into the camera in a photo studio. What false sense of security motivated the girl’s mother to act as if times were normal, just one month before the German occupation of Hungary? – is the author’s puzzled question.