Despite high anti-Semitism, incidents low in Hungary

One in five Hungarians can be classified as an “extreme anti-Semite” but there are few acts of physical violence against Jews.

September 11, 2014 20:18
2 minute read.

The controversial Holocaust memorial in Budapest, Hungary.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Anti-Semitic incidents in Hungary remain infrequent despite the country’s high level of prejudice against Jews, according to a report by the Jewish community’s Action and Protection Foundation (TEV).

Forty-one percent of Hungarians harbor anti-Semitic views, according to the Anti-Defamation League, and the neo-Nazi Jobbik party received 21 percent of the vote in April’s parliamentary elections.

Released on Wednesday and recording incidents for the month of May, TEV’s report stated that three distinct manifestations of anti-Semitism occurred in Hungary, none of which directly targeted individual Jews for physical or verbal abuse.

A Jewish graveyard was found desecrated in the northeastern city of Miskolc on May 8, although authorities were unable to determine when the damage was done with any specificity.

Gravestones were broken and uprooted.

There were also incidents in which swastika stickers were affixed to light poles in Debrecen and the phrase “JEW FREE ZONE” was scrawled on a stadium in Miskolc.

“In general... fewer hate crimes are reported, and in the event documented, than are committed,” the anti-Semitism watchdog asserted. “Victims often do not report them to the police.”

There is a dichotomy Hungary, which features high levels of indigenous anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi activity, but lower levels of physical violence than countries such as France and Belgium in which anti-Semitism is much less socially acceptable, but violence, especially by Muslim immigrants, is more common.

One in five Hungarians can be classed as an “extreme anti-Semite,” according to a report earlier this year by Andras Kovacs of the Central European University.

The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) has been involved in a bitter dispute with Prime Minister Viktor Orban for some time over accusations that his government has engaged in Holocaust revisionism and that Hungary is seeking to whitewash its collaboration with Nazi Germany.

Mazsihisz and other groups are boycotting the government’s 2014 Holocaust memorial year due to Orban’s insistence on building a statue in Budapest depicting a Germanic eagle descending on the Angel Gabriel, a Hungarian symbol, and bearing inscriptions reading “German occupation of Hungary, March 19, 1944” and “To the memory of all victims,” but without any reference to the Jewish community.

Mazsihisz also objected to remarks made by a state-sponsored historian who termed the deportation by Hungary of tens of thousands of Jews to Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine, in 1941, where the Germans killed them in the first large-scale mass murder of the Final Solution, a “police action against aliens.”

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