Week-long demonstration in Budapest was not in vain

Many people labeled the dogged effort of a small group of protesters against the erection of the proposed  monument to the victims of the German “occupation” of Hungary a waste of time and energy. What will they achieve? Nothing. They dismantled the barricade around the proposed site ten or eleven times, but work on the foundation for the monument continued unabated. The monument showing Archangel Gabriel being attacked by the German eagle will be in place before the end of May. They achieved nothing.

Well, this seems not to be the case. The protestors on Szabadság tér (Freedom Square) accomplished something, after all. This morning the US Embassy in Budapest released a statement in which the United States urges the Hungarian government “to seek an honest, open, and factual assessment of the Holocaust in Hungary [which] includes soliciting and considering the opinions of all segments of Hungarian society, and especially those who are rightly most sensitive to the government’s plans during this 70th anniversary year.” The statement also reminded the Hungarian government that it “had indicated in February it would resume dialogue after Easter with stakeholders concerned about Memorial Year plans.”

Hard at work / Népszabadság

Hard at work / Népszabadság

It took no more than a couple of hours for The Wall Street Journal to report on the US initiative which, by the way, coincided with Mazsihisz’s own effort to resume dialogue with the Hungarian government. We have no idea what will happen, but perhaps the US’s unequivocal support for those who object to Viktor Orbán’s high-handed attitude toward Hungarian guilt may help focus the dialogue. The controversy is more than a debate over some fine points of history. The 7oth anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust could provide an opportunity for Hungarian self-assessment. Unfortunately it is precisely that self-assessment which the current Hungarian government wants to prevent.

Meanwhile there were a couple issues in connection with the demonstrations that caused quite a furor. One was an interview with András Schiffer, co-chair of LMP, who seemed to be in an even worse mood than is his usual wont a couple of days after the election. He should have been elated because, after all, his party managed to receive more than 5% of the votes and thus he and five of his colleagues will be able to take part in the work of the parliament. Yet he was morose. When asked by Olga Kálmán what he had to say about the work that had begun on the monument in spite of Viktor Orbán’s explicit promises, Schiffer answered that he had nothing to say. He called the response “disproportionate hysterics.” The opposition shouldn’t waste its energy on this monument. Instead, they should busy themselves with the current very serious problems of the country. Kálmán was so stunned that she committed a  journalistic mistake: she let her own feelings interfere with her professionalism and expressed her disapproval of Schiffer’s response, which she obviously considered callous. Right-wing papers were delighted that András Schiffer, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, shared their view on the issue and pointed the finger at Olga Kálmán. Others, mostly in opposition circles, were horrified at Schiffer’s response.

Here I would like to quote Endre Aczél, a veteran journalist with a vast knowledge of foreign affairs, domestic politics, history, and sports. Aczél remembered an old political-literary event from 1937. In that year the cream of Hungarian literati decided to issue a proclamation protesting artificially inflamed anti-Semitism. Milán Füst (1888-1967), who happened to be Jewish, refused to sign it. These were the words he used explaining his reasons for not joining his fellow writers: “There is the Jewish question and perhaps it could even be solved. But it is not the most important question of the country because there are more burning questions. . . . I will not allow all our troubles to be pilfered on account of the Jewish issue.” A year later the first anti-Jewish law was enacted. The moral of the story is obvious.

András Schiffer’s response resembles what Péter Boross, former prime minister (1993-1994), had to say in an interview on HírTV despite the fact that Boross is a right-wing nationalist and an apologist for the Horthy regime while Schiffer is allegedly a democrat.  I wrote an article about Boross’s seemingly sudden political shift after Viktor Orbán won the election in 2010. Formerly, Boross acted like a true conservative who was afraid of the extreme right. He kept bringing up stories from the 1930s and talked about the consequences of this dangerous ideology. But in the last four years Boross showed himself to be a reactionary right-winger, in many respects sharing the views of the Hungarian extreme right. So, it’s no wonder that Boross considers the demonstrations no more than a hysterical reaction of the left-leaning intelligentsia. The demonstrations are not really about the memorial; they reflect “the hatred of the left fed by their loss at the election.” In an interesting twist he accused “the demonstrators of inflaming fears, especially in older people who went through those terrible years.” So, if I understand him correctly, the demonstrators are the ones who are frightening the Jewish population who, as he added, want to live in peace. “This is an intellectual crime.” And, he added, it is these Budapest intellectuals who are partly responsible for the critical voices from abroad as well. I think, knowing Péter Boross’s ideology, that we can safely replace the adjective “Budapest” with “Jewish.”

I have no idea whether Mazsihisz’s latest effort at continuing a dialogue with the government will succeed. I don’t even know whether the United States government’s statement addressed to the Orbán government will achieve anything. But at least we can say that the efforts of the people who were on that square every afternoon were not wasted. They drew attention once again to the Hungarian government’s unwillingness to acknowledge–and to accept Hungary’s responsibility for–heinous actions of the past.

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Andy -- Schiffer's mumbo-jumbo
Guest

Schiffer’s after-election congratulations to Orban’s Fidesz for winning was only the first serious sign that Schiffer was selling out.

An election that is preceded by a four-year series of absolutely unethical steps that would tilt the elections 75% in Fidesz’ own favor using maneuvering that could in western terms be termed criminal is not a matter to be congratulated but to be deeply deplored.

Schiffer must now have some evil or self-interested motivations or hes gone off the deep end, or both.

The more recent ‘hysteria’ comment is also exaggerated and inopportune. He could have said that two -three weeks BEFORE the ELECTIONS when the left in fact catered to Orbans whim by making a fuss at that point in time instead of attacking Fidesz on current economic and political issues.

During the elections I did not see ONE SINGLE long yet briefly expressed list of all the wrongs or ‘crimes to democracy and decency’ as I call them, committed by Fidesz over 4 years.

petofi
Guest

It is more than a little disgusting that Mazsihisz, after being thoroughly insulted by Orban before the whole Hungarian world, should stoop to initiate discussions with the government. It’s like being spit in the eye, and the victim calmly saying,”just a moment” while getting out his handkerchief to clean it, and then saying, “can we begin again?”

Shouldn’t the Mazsihisz have stood for an apology before any continuation of discussions?

petofi
Guest
Andy — Schiffer’s mumbo-jumbo : Schiffer’s after-election congratulations to Orban’s Fidesz for winning was only the first serious sign that Schiffer was selling out. An election that is preceded by a four-year series of absolutely unethical steps that would tilt the elections 75% in Fidesz’ own favor using maneuvering that could in western terms be termed criminal is not a matter to be congratulated but to be deeply deplored. Schiffer must now have some evil or self-interested motivations or hes gone off the deep end, or both. The more recent ‘hysteria’ comment is also exaggerated and inopportune. He could have said that two -three weeks BEFORE the ELECTIONS when the left in fact catered to Orbans whim by making a fuss at that point in time instead of attacking Fidesz on current economic and political issues. During the elections I did not see ONE SINGLE long yet briefly expressed list of all the wrongs or ‘crimes to democracy and decency’ as I call them, committed by Fidesz over 4 years. Absolutely correct. Schiffer is an asshole. In effect, his statements amounted to, “there’s nothing unusual happening here, so let’s get back to business”, which is tantamount to support of Orban’s… Read more »
Penny Oswalt
Guest

Attn: Andy & Petofi;

Regardless how both of you feel about Shiffer, just puts you both, short of strong character.
It takes courage and strong character to congratulate your opponent. I don’t always agree with the PM on certain subjects, but he WON!

borsalino
Guest

As it has been written many times, the memorial will be built.

People may enjoy their freedoms of speech and of assembly for a while, but the memorial will stand. Period.

This is the concept of the carnival. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivalesque

Once a day in a year (usually around Lent) people are allowed to do eccentric, weird things, on a day of ‘world-upside-down’. Then things get back to normal and the people must continue to follow and serve the ruler. Same in Hungary.

This is not a kívánságműsor (radio request show). A decision has been made and it will be executed.

Andy -- after elections: Segment 1 'continuing the heist'
Guest

Petofi and I are on the same wavelength in faulting Mazsihisz for ineffectiveness, and cowering for no good reason.

Instead of the sad daily routine spectacly of the cat building stuff at daytime and and mouse coming out and disassembling barricades at night and weekends, protesters need to work on legal procedures.

Orban made a promise to restart discussions right after the elections. He has not kept his promise.

Just like Orban promised to keep up the program of under-minimum-wage public employment a major element of minimal survival for several hundred thousand hungry families. Yet one week after the elections he is already spreading the awful truth that he is cutting that pitiful program in just-about half.

To be continued…

Andy -- to Eva Balogh
Guest

Penny Oswalt, above. You are a trouble-maker. If a casino game is rigged or a poker game is fixed a soccer match is pre-ordained the WIN as you call it is NOT a win.

E. Balogh, please note, its necessary to have a mediator before letting missives go public. I know that nonsense and disputes outside the realm of reasonable are stuff for lots of extra comments and clicks and an open tap to all comments provides instant access to debate but who enjoys debating with clowns for Ch’s sakes….

petofi
Guest

Penny Oswalt :
Attn: Andy & Petofi;
Regardless how both of you feel about Shiffer, just puts you both, short of strong character.
It takes courage and strong character to congratulate your opponent. I don’t always agree with the PM on certain subjects, but he WON!

Tired of such political correctness nonsense.
You don’t congratulate someone who’s robbed your home, do you? Do you congratulate someone who’s raped your wife? Do you congratulate someone who’s robbed your surroundings or dignity and decency?

Penny Oswalt
Guest

The goal in life is to be the better person, congratulating your opponent takes courage, strength, and tenacity. The answer to your questions is NO! (technically speaking). Here is a thought, why don’t you do something positive with your constructive criticism, rather than beat yourself up with the facts.

Varom a Megvaltot Hiaba
Guest
Varom a Megvaltot Hiaba

Besides the problem with the Hungarians, there is a problem with the Hungarian Jews, too.

The great majority of them is not too bright.

As an Orban can be catapulted to the top in Hungary, the leaders of the Jewish community are not better than those local Orbans.

This is a sad generational deficiency across the whole nation.

gdfxx
Guest

Penny Oswalt :
Attn: Andy & Petofi;
Regardless how both of you feel about Shiffer, just puts you both, short of strong character.
It takes courage and strong character to congratulate your opponent. I don’t always agree with the PM on certain subjects, but he WON!

At what cost? And with what kind of methods?

In a game of chess, if someone wins by stealing the other side’s queen, s/he does not deserve congratulations.

Zsuzsánna Formanekné Nagy
Guest

Sajnos, a Mazsihisz puhány. Anno a zsidóüldözést sem hitték el, úgy gondolták, ez nem lehet, most is így gondolkodnak. Nem értem, miért nem lépnek fel erőtejesen? Miért nem nyilatkoznak keményen? Miért nem merik kimondani nyíltan, hogy ez nem más, mint a holokauszt tagadása.

A 2010-es választáskor is az volt a véleményem, hogy azért kellett az LMP, hogy a bal-liberális oldalról szavazókat szippantson el. Most is ez volt a szerepe.
Schifferről az a véleményem, hogy ő a “hivatalos” ellenzék, aki kritizálgathat, helyteleníthet. Emlékezzünk, hogy Kádár idejében is voltak ilyenek.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

What Zsuzsanna Formanekne Nagy meant to write in English is that the LMP role was to siphon off votes from the left-liberals. She very well may be right. As a first time voter this year, I was in trouble with my decision of voting for a party. First of all, I am not used to voting for corporate organizations, like political parties; in the US I vote for real people (candidates), not parties. Going through the list of 18 party choices, I discarded most of them, because I have never heard of them. Then I went down the remainder list. Jobbik? Absolutely no. The United Opposition melange? Not as long as Gyurcsany’s name was on the marquee. Fidesz? Not with people like Orban or Kover at the helm. So that left LMP as the last choice… Depressing, isn’t it?

Bowen
Guest

Penny Oswalt :
Attn: Andy & Petofi;
Regardless how both of you feel about Shiffer, just puts you both, short of strong character.
It takes courage and strong character to congratulate your opponent. I don’t always agree with the PM on certain subjects, but he WON!

You’re a buffoon. Now please congratulate me on having WON the proposition.

tappanch
Guest

Big brother is watching you harder:

There are two wire transfer platforms in Hungary.

Viber for the big companies, and Giro for the small guys like us.

The National Bank, MNB has always owned Viber.

It purchased [78% of] Giro for 10 billion forints eight days ago and will own 100% of the company within two months.

The government wants to have access to each financial transaction, no matter how small it is.

http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20140423_Mire_kell_Matolcsyeknak_a_nagy_adatbank

tappanch
Guest

New distribution of the yearly 3800 million HUF of public funds to the political parties after the election, unless Orban changes the system retroactively.

Fidesz= 1600 million

MSzP= 600
DK= 130
Egyutt= 120
PM= 93
Liberalis= 82

http://nol.hu/belfold/kevesebbet-kap-az-mszp-1458015

tappanch
Guest

Compare these numbers with the one time campaign support the new Fidesz election law gave to the political parties, including the numerous fake ones –

597 million each:
FIDESZ-KDNP
MSZP-EGYÜTT-PM-DK-MLP
JOBBIK MAGYARORSZÁGÉRT MOZGALOM
LEHET MÁS A POLITIKA

447.75 million each:
JÓLÉT ÉS SZABADSÁG DEMOKRATA KÖZÖSSÉG
SZOCIÁLDEMOKRATÁK MAGYAR POLGÁRI PÁRTJA

298.5 million each:
A HAZA NEM ELADÓ MOZGALOM PÁRT
KÖZÖSSÉG A TÁRSADALMI IGAZSÁGOSSÁGÉRT NÉPPÁRT
ÖSSZEFOGÁS PÁRT
SERES MÁRIA SZÖVETSÉGESEI
MAGYARORSZÁGI CIGÁNYPÁRT

149.25 million each:
MAGYAR MUNKÁSPÁRT
SPORTOS ÉS EGÉSZSÉGES MAGYARORSZÁGÉRT PÁRT
ÚJ MAGYARORSZÁG PÁRT
ÚJ DIMENZIÓ PÁRT
ZÖLDEK PÁRTJA
EGYÜTT 2014 PÁRT
FÜGGETLEN KISGAZDA- FÖLDMUNKÁS ÉS POLGÁRI PÁRT .

http://vastagbor.blog.hu/2014/03/20/5_8_milliard_allami_tamogatast_kaptak_az_orszagos_listat_allito_partok

cjflesch
Guest

Let them erect the monument! The German Eagle should be labeled: Turul madár. Gabriel is not Hungary but the Jews.

Watch the correct labeling!

Carl Flesch

Realpstr. 61

CH-4054 Basel

Tel: +41(0)61 3017740

tappanch
Guest

@cjflesch

Dear Carl,

Your dream was already sketched in January:

http://orulunkvincent.blog.hu/2014/01/22/muleiras

Johnny Boy
Guest

The statement of the embassy is not the result of the protests.
It is the “result” of your and your mates’ (Hungary bashers) lobbying AND YOU KNOW IT.
But Hungary is not the 51th state of the USA, nor a colony.
When did Hungary intervene in what kind of monuments the USA can erect? This is an outrage. As usual, all the battles you cannot win within Hungary, you try to win from foreign countries. You must fail.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“The monument offended Germany” – I think they offended us first by occupying us.
I don’t care about the fact that you deny the occupation just as you deny the sins of Communism. You deny the German occupation so that you can depict the Hungarian population as the sinners of the holocaust. I don’t care about your falsification of history.

HiBoM
Guest

On this occasion, despite the unnecessarily inflammatory tone, Johnny Boy is correct. I don’t see any reason to suppose this has anything to do with the anaemic protests that I witnessed ten days ago and everything to do with English language lobbying. I’m glad the USA has made this stand, however.

I do sometimes suspect that this whole business was fabricated by Habony to get the opposition worked up and angry, distracting them from more urgent tasks, such as drawing world opinion to the fact that election was rigged (rigged to get the absolute power that the 2/3rds majority represents.) In that sense, there is a modicum of truth in Schiffer’s assertion that the opposition should concentrate on issues closer to home.

Jano
Guest

@tappanch: Fodor got 82 Millions??? Wow, maybe I’m in the wrong line of business here.

Jano
Guest

Eva: ‘Far-fetched. Orbán needed this like a hole in the head.’

Not so much, I don’t think Orbán cares too much.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“unnecessarily inflammatory tone” – not unnecessary, I’m outraged at this unashamed intervention into domestic affairs.
“I’m glad the USA has made this stand” – why are you glad? Perhaps you are glad that Hungary’s sovereignty is under attack?

Balga Barna
Guest

Johnny Boy :
“unnecessarily inflammatory tone” – not unnecessary, I’m outraged at this unashamed intervention into domestic affairs.
“I’m glad the USA has made this stand” – why are you glad? Perhaps you are glad that Hungary’s sovereignty is under attack?

“I’m outraged at this unashamed intervention into domestic affairs”.

Oh, how many times did I hear this in the 1970-1980’s. The bad imperialists always intervened into the domestic affairs of the righteous communist countries, including Hungary. They just couldn’t leave us alone. And now, here they come again and are intervening yet again. The horror, the horror. It’s a pretty tough life here in Hungary with these intervening imperialists, isn’t it Johnny Boy?

Guest

Balga Barna beat me to it!

Isn’t it ironic that Johnny Boy uses exactly the same words against criticism from outside as the communists did whenever the USA, the UN or the EU “tried to intervene in domestic affairs”?

This proves in a way that Fidesz are the real (post)commies in Hungary!

Really funny – Johnny, you made my day!

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