“The lack of confronting the past (‘Why didn’t you bother with a revolution, dears?’ as József Antall, the first democratically elected PM wryly noted) is what makes Hungarian politics an unnavigable swamp. Since no-one was forced to undergo any form of screening (lustration) following the political changes, no-one could tell who would turn out to have been an agent or informer of the secret police,” notes Attila Novák in this month’s editorial.
“Similarly to the novel, this film is not simply about the Holocaust. It is about dictatorial political systems, about how one finds himself in impossible situations without a rational reason. How on earth does a story of this kind begin? It is my hope that the film also makes this point,” says Lajos Koltai, renowned cameraman and director of “Fateless”, in an interview given to Gábor T. Szántó.
A storm is brewing in Prague’s Jewish community. Jan Fingerland and Attila Novák characterise the two opposing parties as follows: “Critics of Jelinek, President of Prague’s Jewish community, and his defenders are mostly people in their fifties, although they have been joined by younger people also. They have filled leading posts in various institutions run by the community. What do they want? Basically nothing: they would like things to continue as before.”
Josef Joffe, the German Jewish journalist, writes about an imaginary world without Israel. “Imagine that Israel never existed. Would the economic malaise and political repression that drive angry young men to become suicide bombers vanish? Would the Palestinians have an independent state? Would the United States, freed of its burdensome ally, suddenly find itself beloved throughout the Muslim world? Wishful thinking. Far from creating tensions, Israel actually contains more antagonisms than it causes.”
Israeli minister Nathan Sharansky also visited Hungary as part of his “European tour for Democracy”. He delivered a lecture at the Central European University and in an interview given to János Gadó, he noted that “there is still much to be done to impress the dangers of modem anti-Semitism. However, there is another danger, namely Islamic fundamentalism, which does not threaten Israel alone. We may say that some progress has been made, now that western countries are beginning to understand this.”
Katalin Pécsi provides a female perspective on the contemporary Hungarian Jewish dating scene. ‘The trivialities mentioned by people who were disappointed by ‘mixed’ relations when describing the differentness of their ‘goyishe’ partner are truly fascinating. ‘My Christian boyfriend’s mother asked me to slice a cucumber and then she criticised me for not doing it quickly enough and not cutting the slices thin enough,’ said one girl. ‘I took my girlfriend to the synagogue, so she could see what it was like inside. She went on about the noise and kept asking why we weren’t listening to the rabbi. I never took her again, because she just wouldn’t understand what it’s all about,’ says another.”
This month’s issue closes with Thane Rosenbaum’s short story, “Eliyah visible”.
The author, title and contents of last month’s editorial appeared erroneously in the Summary. In his article, “Anti-Fascism is not enough”, János Gadó noted that “it is rather difficult to find one’s bearings using an anti-Fascist, left-wing approach, because the brutal, genocidal regimes screaming about the destruction of Israel too use this left-wing phraseology.”