Thursday, September 28, 2006

Anti-semitism in Hungary

Roger Boyes has a piece in the New Stateman in which he labels the opposition to Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany as 'nationalist and anti-semitic'.
He does not mention the left-wing opposition to Gyurcsany's neo-liberal reforms, presumably because it doesn't fit in with his thesis.
That said, there is no doubt that anti-semitism (or Judeophobia, to be more accurate) is a factor in Hungarian politics, as it is in other European countries. I write from personal experience.
I was once attacked in a Budapest bar by a Hungarian fascist, for the crime of being from a country which fought with 'the Jews and the Russians' in World War Two.
For most of five and a half years in Hungary I worked in the Jewish community, teaching at a Jewish Higher Education Institute in Budapest and also at the Anna Frank Grammar School. As a non-Jew, it gave me a fascinating insight into Jewish culture and I made some deep and lasting friendships. But the very fact that I worked in the Jewish community, caused some non-Jewish Hungarians to treat me with suspicion and even hostility.
To bring this round to the current disturbances in Budapest, I have no doubt that some of those marching against Gyurcsany ARE motivated by Judeophobia. For the members of parties like MIEP, Jews are to blame not only for the ills of neo-liberalism- but for communism too. But the fact that some protestors might have ignoble motives, shouldn't blind us to the fact that the present Hungarian Prime Minister is a foul mouthed, deceitful chancer who is not fit to hold public office. Only by ditching Gyurcsany and his disastrous neo-liberal policies and returning to the progressive 'goulash' socialist policies of the 1970s and 80s, (without the restrictions on foreign travel and other unnecessary curbs) can this increasingly divided society be healed.

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