In defence of a maligned state

2012. október 1. 16:47
Monica Porter
The Jewish Chronicle
Last spring, when a Jobbik MP gave an antisemitic speech in parliament, he was fervently denounced by politicians of all stripes, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban reacted by inviting a prominent Budapest rabbi to parliament and pledging his government's support for the Jewish community.


"The Catholic, Reform and Lutheran churches followed with a joint statement in a Jewish magazine, declaring: "It is our duty to protest against incitement of hatred."
In another positive step, in July, Hungarian authorities arrested 97-year-old Laszlo Csatary, a 'most wanted' Nazi war criminal accused of sending 16,000 Jews to Auschwitz. It may or may not be true that the arrest came about due to international pressure, but the point is that it took place. (...)
Today, the small nation has continental Europe's third largest Jewish population, after France and Germany - up to 100,000 people, mostly living in Budapest. The capital's many shuls include the beautifully restored Dohany Street Synagogue. There is a much-lauded Holocaust museum, as well as the 'shoes along the Danube' memorial to Jews killed by the Arrow Cross.
Budapest has a kosher pastry shop and kosher butcher - even a kosher pizzeria - and a Jewish theatre group. The city hosts an annual Jewish Summer Festival with a book fair, art exhibits, Jewish gastronomic delights and a 'kosher cabaret'. Each winter, there is a Chanucah festival in the flourishing Jewish district (site of a wartime ghetto), where hip young Hungarian Jews scoff latkes and listen to ethno-fusion-klezmer-punk bands.
These are hardly indicative of a society in which antisemitism plays a dominant role. So let's look at the broader picture. Hungary is not such a bad place to be a Jew."


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