New poll on Hungarian anti-Semitism

In the last few days I have encountered a number of studies, television interviews, and polls on Hungarian anti-Semitism. The inspiration for this sudden burst of information is undoubtedly an international conference organized by the Tom Lantos Institute, which is described as “an independent human and minority rights organization with a particular focus on Jewish and Roma communities and other transnational minorities.” So far their activities have been meager and even their website is unfinished. This conference, held in the chamber of the former Upper House of the Hungarian Parliament, was a closed affair for invited guests only, most of whom were foreigner visitors.

I should actually devote a whole post to the rocky history of the Institute, which is currently an instrument of the Hungarian government whose attitude toward the issue of anti-Semitism is ambivalent at best. On the one hand, the government tries to convince the world of its progressive attitude and fair handling of the issue and, on the other, it promotes the rehabilitation of the Horthy regime in which several discriminatory laws were enacted which eventually led to the horror of the Hungarian Holocaust. Moreover, for political reasons the governing party, Fidesz, usually placates the neo-Nazi anti-Semitic Jobbik party by giving in to their demands, which often entails the rehabilitation of anti-Semitic characters from the past. That’s why Stefan J. Bos of BosNewsLife entitled his article on the Lantos Institute’s conference “Hungary’s Crocodile Tears Over the Holocaust.”

Let’s see the results of some recent studies on anti-Semitism in Hungary. According to the sociologist András Kovács, who conducted about fifteen such studies between 1993 and 2011, the number of anti-Semites has grown over the years, especially since 2009, but he adds that the Hungarian population is quite xenophobic in general, and when they were asked about their attitude towards the Arabs, the Gypsies, the Blacks, the Chinese, the Hungarian Germans, and the Jews, the Jews actually came off best. That is, they were hated the least. Still, the percentage of people who vehemently hate the Jews jumped from 9% to about 20% between 2009 and 2013.

A few days ago a new poll was taken by Political Capital, which focuses exclusively on Internet users. So, the poll is skewed because in Hungary relatively few people over the age of 60 use the Internet. The percentage of young people included in this poll is higher than in the population as a whole. According to Political Capital, those for whom Jews are “antipathetic” make up 28% of the adult population. I tried to use the equivalent of the Hungarian original (ellenszenvezők) instead of “anti-Semitic” (antiszemiták) because the latter linguistic choice would probably have altered the results. “Anti-Semitic” is certainly a more loaded term than “antipathetic.” The team conducting the survey also offered a “sympathetic” (rokonszenvezők) category, and the percentage of the sample who opted for that choice was surprisingly high, 34%. The percentage of those who claim to be neutral is also high, 26%.

Not surprisingly, there are great differences in people’s attitudes toward Jews when it comes to party preferences. Jobbik has the highest percentage of anti-Semites, 75%, while E14, LMP, and DK have the lowest, 14%. Fidesz voters show an interesting pattern: 33% dislike Jews, 27% claim to be neutral, 22% like them, and a very large percentage in comparison to the others simply have no opinion, 18%. Among MSZP voters the percentage of those who find Jews to be an unsympathetic lot is almost as high as among Fidesz voters but at the same time 45% of them actually sympathize with Jews and only 15% are neutral on the issue.

The researchers of Political Capital call attention to the fact that “anti-Semitism is a politically induced phenomenon.” Although in terms of percentages Fidesz and Jobbik voters are very far from each other on anti-Semitism and although the difference is relatively small between Fidesz and MSZP, when it comes to hard-core anti-Semitism (including a belief in theories of an international Jewish conspiracy) Fidesz and Jobbik anti-Semites are very close to one another. Here is the graphic illustrating Political Capital’s contention. In the lower left quadrant are anti-Semites of the parties who don’t believe in conspiracy theories while in the upper right quadrant are the Jobbik and Fidesz anti-Semites who do believe in conspiracy theories.

Fidesz-Jobbik antisemites

That is, the nature of Fidesz-Jobbik anti-Semitism is fundamentally different from that on the democratic side. But why? Political Capital’s researchers claim that anti-Semitism is a politically induced phenomenon. Well, that is quite clear in the case of Jobbik because this party’s messages are unequivocal. The party’s sympathizers are barraged with hard-core anti-Semitic messages. But what’s happening in Fidesz? I suspect that the double talk and ambivalence that can found in Fidesz communication is responsible for the high number of Fidesz believers in an international Jewish conspiracy. Some Fidesz voters view the incessant anti-foreign, anti-capitalism remarks as coded anti-Semitic messages and translate them into unambiguous statements. Moreover, it is often asserted that about 30% of Fidesz voters are already so far to the right that they could easily vote for Jobbik. In fact, many of them indicate Jobbik as their second choice when asked by pollsters.

I think that those who fall for the “crocodile tears” should keep all of this in mind. Viktor Orbán, who is politically very savvy and who has his finger on the pulse of his followers, believes that he cannot ignore the feelings of his flock. Whether he is an anti-Semite or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is his careful tiptoeing around this issue for the sake of his followers whose anti-Semitism is deeply ingrained.

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tappanch
Guest

Ivan Fischer’s new opera, the “Red Heifer” about the 1882 Tiszaeszlár blood libel was performed a week ago:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/21/arts/music/in-hungary-a-new-opera-joins-the-chorus-against-anti-semitism.html

andy 'stratospheria'
Guest
By ‘stratospheria’ I mean using an overall view as from above. The anti-semitism in Hungary in its essence is not very different from that in many other societies where this is an attitude learned in the home from childhood days ‘with mothers’ milk’ as they say. I am aways transported back to my college days in the mid-1960s when I spent a summer internship as an AIESEC trainee in the offices of a large French shipyard in Le Havre, France. The fist day I was introduced to the entire accounting department, all the employees, one-by one with the custormary French handshake. As we meandered by all the desks and other emplyees, my boss would remark, when the occasion arose, that “c’est un juif”… We got this disease (anti-minority) in Hungary too. And to various levels within all societies. The Hungarian variety is quite a virulent one – it’s so deeply ingrained that it encompasses ‘returnees’ — even ones that left as a child – under 10 – so they cant very well say off the bat that it was a self-made diicsion to leave… No matter, you are instantly categorized as were the Jews in Auschwitz. You go left, (to… Read more »
freeHU
Guest

The subject will have to die.
The Hungarian legislation voted and approved the emancipation of the Jews/Israelite/Mosaics…in the 1800…
Did the legislation erase the discrimination regulations of the Horthy regime?
We need new comprehensive legislation to end the discrimination based on religion/sex/race.
The laws have to be cleaned up.
Erase the options of discrimination.
Adopt laws which would strictly forbid all discrimination.
Media reform – outlaw the discrimination, incitement in media.

The Lantos Institute has to clean up its act. Should fire all FIDESZ reps.
Are Soros Institutes better? I doubt it. To many Soros employees are mad human rights advocates. Easily spewing mild antisemitism in the distorted sympathy for the crooked Palestinian leaders, not the Palestinian people.

An
Guest

“Still, the percentage of people who vehemently hate the Jews jumped from 9% to about 20% between 2009 and 2013.”

Although there are deep-seated antisemitic and xenophobic feelings among the Hungarian population in general, this number shows how “effective” the uncontrolled spread of hate-speech and antisemitic propaganda has been. It’s one thing that the extreme right wing spreads such hatred, but it is a more serious issue that the mainstream political elite (in this case, Fidesz) does not unequivocally condemns such attitudes and speech. With their wishy-washy stance on the matter, Fidesz has largely contributed to the degeneration of public discourse and the spread of antisemitic attitudes.

The political elite does have a responsibility in shaping the public discourse and through this discourse, people’s attitude in general, as the political elite’s behavior can set certain implicit norms of what is acceptable and unacceptable in the society. That’s why the condemnation of hate speech and discrimination should be an absolute priority for ALL mainstream political parties.

Member

Anyone who lives in Hungary must know that racism remains a major problem, simply from everyday conversations. At the same time, Political Capital’s methodology is not reliable. As is common for Hungarian “institutes,” their researchers took the path of least resistance — sending out questionnaires to Internet users, creating a 1,000-person database and calling it “representative.” This kind of polling cannot be considered reliable scientific inquiry.
Look at their Demand for Right-WIng Extremism survey from 2011. By Political Capital’s measurements, the percentages of Hungarians who “demand” right-wing extremism actually DECLINED by 50% between 2009 and 2011. Political Capital explains this by saying that public confidence in the Fidesz government was at its peak in 2011, when the European Union collected the data on social attitudes in Hungary.
So, we are to believe that the popularity of Fidesz, whose appeal is partly based on the party leadership’s flirtation with racism and xenophobia, is responsible for a huge decline in right-wing attitudes. I have a different explanation: A half-baked study based on shoddy methodology.

Member

Anyone who is interested in the study can check out this link: http://www.riskandforecast.com/useruploads/files/derex_2012/derex_ess5_en.pdf

Guest

Too many Hungarians hate everything “foreign”, whether it’s the Jews, the Roma, the asylum seekers from Africa, the people in the neighbour states or even the poor Pirez …

And Fidesz just like Jobbik feed this and feed on this hate!

tappanch
Guest

A Jewish woman got a brand new 4-meter tall sculpture overlooking the Danube, so the country is not so anti-Semitic 🙂

http://urbanista.blog.hu/2013/10/21/ti_mit_szoltok_a_budai_var_fokara_kerulo_negymeteres_maria-szoborhoz

tappanch
Guest

Police claim that the vote buying video was made after the repeated by-election.

Notice that they did not offer any proof.

http://nol.hu//belfold/a_valasztas_utan_keszult_a__szavazatvasarlo__video

Fidesz wants to turn the table by claiming that the opposition created the video after
the by-election to denigrate Fidesz.

What about the other video I saw just after the election, in which a woman proudly claimed to have been given firewood by Fidesz for her vote?

HUHU
Guest

It is very satisfying that there are many enlightened people inside and outside of Hungary, who are free of anti-semitism and other prejudices.

The poison of prejudices have been in production to support oppressive rulers by diverting the attention of the suffering subjects from their other big pains..

I, with my friends, are very grateful for such blogs to its author.

Tomi
Guest
It is true that intolerance is often handed down by parents. However, I do not fully agree that intolerance in Hungary is similar to most other countries. I am born and raised in Scandinavia and there, you can generally correlate intolerance with educational background. In Scandinavia, you will find a higher degree of intolerance among the less educated, while in Hungary I keep being amazed at the intolerant stupidities I have to hear from supposedly intelligent people with university degrees. Therefore, I would say that intolerance in Hungary is primarily a reflection of the current condition and outlook of the private economies, rather than a question of educational background. It fits, since those Scandinavians with lower incomes are also those with less education. The upbringing/childhood of Hungarians asked in the survey has not changed dramatically over the past 4-5 years, but the economy certainly has. Therefore, the increase in intolerance in Hungary is not necessarily related to national politics. In my opinion, the inefficiency, wastefulness, greed, and corruption of the current government is not significantly different from the previous government, but a constant level of wastefulness during a time of recession has worsened the economic outlook more than necessary for… Read more »
An
Guest

@Tomi: It is very convenient to blame the deteriorating economic situation for this, but without a mainstream political party’s tacit support for antisemitism and xenophobia, openly antisemitic and xenophobic public speech wouldn’t be “normal” in Hungary. It is very interesting to see how what is “acceptable” or “normal” has been gradually shifting in Hungary in recent years.

Kave
Guest

Note the difference between the Tom Lantos Institute and the Tom Lantos Foundation. One (the Foundation) is run by Lantos’ widow and has people of the caliber of Elie Wiesel, Shimon Peres, and celebs like Richard Gere and Bono on the board of advisors (and who wouldn’t want Bono on their board, right?) The Lantos Institute is a FIDESZ-friendly Potemkin village set up to resemble a human rights organization when the government needs to seem like it takes antisemitism seriously. The two do not sit down to brunch at the same table. Guess which one will be present when they open the new Children’s Holocaust Museum at the Joszefvaros Train station site?

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

A brilliant article by Magdalena Marsovszky on Orbáns “völkisch” ideas

http://www.hagalil.com/archiv/2013/10/08/orban-2/

Tyrker
Guest

Karl Pfeifer :
A brilliant article by Magdalena Marsovszky on Orbáns “völkisch” ideas
http://www.hagalil.com/archiv/2013/10/08/orban-2/

That article is anything but brilliant. Right at the outset, the author makes two points that have a very ambivalent relationship with the truth (to be polite).

1) She writes that “in principle Hungary is no longer a republic, even though the term does appear in a somewhat hidden-away passage” of the constitution. Now, I am an ardent critic of the new constitution myself but I would never say something like this. Passage #2 of Article B clearly says that the form of state of Hungary shall be a republic. It could not be clearer than that.

2) She claims that the first line of the preamble says, “God bless the Hungarians,” and concludes that this is “as much as to say: minorities no longer count for anything.” Now, that line is not part of the preamble, but is a motto for the whole constitution. Even she has to – and does – acknowledge that it is the first line of the national anthem. And of course it is not about the exclusion or degradation of anyone. The degree of malevolence that oozes from this piece of writing is revolting.

petofi
Guest
wolfi : Too many Hungarians hate everything “foreign”, whether it’s the Jews, the Roma, the asylum seekers from Africa, the people in the neighbour states or even the poor Pirez … And Fidesz just like Jobbik feed this and feed on this hate! Let’s try to get a few things straight: Fidesz and Jobbik do not ‘lead’ the people to antisemitism. They are responding to what is a ‘need’ in the Hungarian psyche. Thus their popularity–that of those political parties–issues from the fact that they voice what the great majority want to hear. Why do they want to hear it? Because the Hungarian population–in the main–suffers from a massive inferiority complex. Why? Consider this: Jews in most countries make up 20% of the Nobel Prize winners; in Hungary, that percentage is 66%. So, who are you going to hate?–The ones who ‘push you down lower than a frog’s arse’. This ‘inferiority’ can also answer many of the conspiratorial series: “Jews always stick together and help each other”; “Jews lead a world conspiracy”….and some such drivel. Hungarians must learn to self-educate themselves; to read some of the classics of western civilization in the original–French/German/English–or, in translations made by translators of the… Read more »
petofi
Guest

correction: “series”…should read “theories”…

latefor
Guest

Petofi – “Why do they want to hear it? Because the Hungarian population–in the main–suffers from a massive inferiority complex. Why? Consider this: Jews in most countries make up 20% of the Nobel Prize winners; in Hungary, that percentage is 66%.”

In my opinion that shows that Hungarian Jews are much smarter than other Jews in most countries….(it must be the goulash)….and if you would ask the average Hungarian, they are proud of their Jewish Nobel price winners. But that would mean that you would have to mix with the average Hungarian to understand their soul. (you’ve just read a comment from one)

Let me take this opportunity to advertise my recently released book on Amazon.com/kindle:

Arty, Crafty, Nasty

petofi
Guest

@latefor

“…and if you would ask the average Hungarian, they are proud of their Jewish Nobel price (sic) winners….”

Yup, they sure are.
Have you ever heard of Imre Kertesz and how Hungarians lobbied AGAINST him getting the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002?

andy 'down-to-earth'
Guest
I am personally pleased with the comments in general as above, on this theme. They indicate an openneness to looking for answers as to why anti-semitism and xenophobia tend to be severe in the country whose well-being we are concerned for. The solutions to the betterment of the situation is something we have not really scratched the surface of however. And no wonder. Currently everything points toward a continued negative attitude to the betterment of this question and results. The causes of sluggish, if any, improvement to solving the issue is 1. Government’s double-talk attitude (influenced by its priority in obtaining right-wing support). 2. Increased frustration as the economy becomes weaker for the average and vast majority of the citizenry. 3. Huge swath of the population do not receive a chance to read or other cahennels of information that is enlightening to the benefits of improved inter-racial and inter-personal acceptance and communication. 3b. Where information is available, it is targeted not for the more simple folk in short cenceptial bits but instead is presented on intellectual talk-shows. 4. Other areas of the media do not give space to the ‘betterment’ of the conceptual thinking motive. 5. The right wing fidesz… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@ andy ‘down-to-earth’

First things first: a groundswell movement to demand that the new Pope investigate the doings of the Hungarian Catholic Church….now, and in the past…

Spanish guy
Guest

wolfi :
Too many Hungarians hate everything “foreign”, whether it’s the Jews, the Roma, the asylum seekers from Africa, the people in the neighbour states or even the poor Pirez …
And Fidesz just like Jobbik feed this and feed on this hate!

You forget trianon, when you mention the very “friendly” neighbours.

Israel has no territorial claims on Hungary, so it is not based on territorial conflicts.

Spanish guy
Guest
petofi : wolfi : Too many Hungarians hate everything “foreign”, whether it’s the Jews, the Roma, the asylum seekers from Africa, the people in the neighbour states or even the poor Pirez … And Fidesz just like Jobbik feed this and feed on this hate! Let’s try to get a few things straight: Fidesz and Jobbik do not ‘lead’ the people to antisemitism. They are responding to what is a ‘need’ in the Hungarian psyche. Thus their popularity–that of those political parties–issues from the fact that they voice what the great majority want to hear. Why do they want to hear it? Because the Hungarian population–in the main–suffers from a massive inferiority complex. Why? Consider this: Jews in most countries make up 20% of the Nobel Prize winners; in Hungary, that percentage is 66%. So, who are you going to hate?–The ones who ‘push you down lower than a frog’s arse’. This ‘inferiority’ can also answer many of the conspiratorial series: “Jews always stick together and help each other”; “Jews lead a world conspiracy”….and some such drivel. Hungarians must learn to self-educate themselves; to read some of the classics of western civilization in the original–French/German/English–or, in translations made by translators… Read more »
An
Guest
@Wolfi: “Let’s try to get a few things straight: Fidesz and Jobbik do not ‘lead’ the people to antisemitism. They are responding to what is a ‘need’ in the Hungarian psyche. Thus their popularity–that of those political parties–issues from the fact that they voice what the great majority want to hear.” They do lead them to it to some degree (emphasis on “some degree”). Yes, there has always been a sizable part of the population who was openly and vehemently antisemitic. But look at the numbers, they change, it went from 9% to 20% in a couple of years….. Attitudes are not stable qualities of people… just look at sociological research how these attitudes change in societies. This is what happens when a mainstream political party decides to capitalize on the extremist views of a smaller part of the society… as they tacitly endorse such views (yes, in the hope of gaining votes, but in the hope of adding this minority extremist vote to their count, not because the majority is expressing these extreme views) , they spread these views, make these views more acceptable and more popular and yes, more of the population will start subscribing to them. The… Read more »
Guest

An, you’re so right! “they spread these views”

Are these Fidesz guys really so primitive, or is it they just don’t care or do they use this in cold blood – maybe being told by their US marketing experts ?

They should/must know that it’s a dangerous game – in the end only Jobbik etc will profit from it and Hungary in general will be worse off!

petofi
Guest

wolfi :
An, you’re so right! “they spread these views”
Are these Fidesz guys really so primitive, or is it they just don’t care or do they use this in cold blood – maybe being told by their US marketing experts ?
They should/must know that it’s a dangerous game – in the end only Jobbik etc will profit from it and Hungary in general will be worse off!

Jobbik are the foot-soldiers of Fidesz/Orban. In the vein of Papa Putin and his several political parties, one clandestinely plays to the benefit of the other.
Sneaky. Oh so sneaky–Hungarians’ outstanding quality…

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