Finance Minister Yair Lapid addresses Hungarian Parliament 3.
(photo credit: Courtesy Finance Ministry)
We must never stop fighting against racism and for justice, Finance Minister Yair Lapid told the Hungarian Parliament Tuesday.
Lapid participated in a conference on Jewish Life and anti-Semitism in Contemporary Europe, hosted by Hungary, the country where his father, former justice minister Tommy Lapid, survived the Holocaust.
The Finance Minister began by saying he has complex feelings attending the event in a building that, 70 years ago, had a sign reading "no entry for Jews and dogs."
"We want to forget, but we cannot," he said.
Lapid told the story of his father, who at age 13 lived in a basement in the ghetto in Budapest as Nazis and Hungarian fascists began taking Jews on death marches and shooting them into the Danube River. Tommy Lapid and his mother were sent on a march, and on the way, a Russian plane passed over them, and the Jews started running away. Germans shot into the air, and Tommy and his mother hid in an outhouse. The march continued without them, but they didn't know where to go and returned to the ghetto, hoping that the Russians would arrive before the next death march.
Years later, Lapid visited Budapest with his father, who took him to the outhouse and said "this is where I was saved and my Zionism was born, because this is where I understood that there has to be a place I can go to."
"We were a statistical error. He was supposed to die, and I wasn't supposed to be born, but we were still there, against all odds, two men who needed to have a place to go to," Lapid said.
Lapid pointed out that 450,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the 10 months the Nazis occupied Hungary.
"I'm a guest, and guests aren't supposed to embarrass their hosts, but it would defeat the purpose of this event if we deny the fact that genocide of this scope could not help without the active help of tens of thousands of Hungarians and without the silence of millions of others," he said. "There is a stain on the honor of this house. For years, we all tried to ignore the stain, but history taught us that ignoring is the wrong policy."
The Finance Minister warned that "anti-Semitism raised its ugly head in Hungary again, and we know today that we cannot disregard racism, we cannot let it grow. Hatred does not disappear. It is an awful fact of life that we must battle every hour of every day."
"We can never, never stop fighting against racism and hatred and for justice," he added.
Lapid concluded the speech by telling members of the Hungarian Parliament that they must "wake up every morning and say 'this will never happen again. Jews will not die on the land of Hungary just because they're Jews, and we are really committed to that.'"