Anti-semitism, racism, Huxit, or just a bad dream?

A few days ago I was toying with the idea of returning to my discussion of interwar Hungarian history as portrayed by Sándor Szakály, director-general of the government’s very own historical institute, brazenly named Veritas Research Institute. But we have all been preoccupied with the disruptive present.

The reason I wanted to go back to Sándor Szakály’s interview with The Budapest Beacon was because, as I indicated earlier, he gave an account of the Hungarian Holocaust that I knew would prompt rebuttals from academic historical circles. I was right. László Karsai, one of the foremost historians of the Hungarian Holocaust, tried to set the record straight about such critical points as when Miklós Horthy knew about the true fate of those Hungarian Jewish citizens who were sent in cattle cars to Auschwitz. I hope to return to that part of the Szakály interview sometime in the future.

Today, as the first topic of this post, I’m going to look briefly at the afterlife of Szakály’s unacceptable interpretation of the so-called numerus clausus, which limited the number of Jewish students to a mere 6% of the entering university classes. In Szakály’s opinion, the introduction of the law was unfortunate because it violated the concept of equality before the law, but from another point of view it was “a case of positive discrimination in favor of those youngsters who had less of a chance when it came to entering an institution of higher education.” The opposition parties immediately demanded Szakály’s resignation, and three days after the interview MAZSIHISZ, the umbrella organization serving various Jewish religious groups, also issued a statement in which it especially decried the insensitivity and indifference that Szakály displayed toward the victims of the Holocaust.

This time the government moved fast. Yesterday there was a meeting of the Jewish Civic Roundtable (Zsidó Közösségi Kerekasztal), comprised of Jewish leaders and members of the government, where Nándor Csepreghy, deputy to János Lázár, distanced the government from Sándor Szakály’s assertions. He indicated that János Lázár, who had left the meeting before the topic was brought up, was ready to discuss the matter further with MAZSIHISZ.

Naturally, this was not the end of the story. This afternoon János Lázár at his regular Thursday press conference announced the dismissal of László L. Simon, undersecretary in charge of the reconstruction of important historical monuments, and the “retirement” of Mrs. László Németh, undersecretary in charge of financial services and the post office. It was in connection with these dismissals that a reporter asked Lázár about the status of Sándor Szakály. The answer was that “in historical matters the government mustn’t take sides.” If a “scientific opinion” offends the interests or sensibilities of a community, then that group should exercise its rights against the offender. He himself is completely satisfied with Szakály’s work as director-general of the Veritas Institute.

I often see cautious journalists talking about organizations as being “close to Fidesz and/or the government.” Their circumspection is warranted. In the past, several law suits have been initiated against media outlets for not choosing their words carefully. But, in my opinion, there is no need to beat around the bush in the case of the Veritas Institute. It is a government research center, pure and simple. The Orbán government doesn’t even try to hide the fact the “employer” of the Veritas Institute is the government, which is represented by János Lázár. The law that established the institute in 2013 clearly states that it is Lázár who can appoint and/or dismiss the director-general, his two deputies, and the financial director of the institute. Mind you, the law also claims that the institute “functions independently,” but as long as the head of the Prime Minister’s Office can hire and fire the leadership of the institute one cannot talk about independence in any meaningful sense of the word.

János Lázár’s press conference made headlines not because of his praise of Szakály but because, in response to a question, he weighed in on how he would vote if a referendum were held in Hungary about exiting from the European Union. He said that he “wouldn’t be able to vote to remain in the European Union in good conscience” (jó szívvel). Of course, he immediately tried to blunt the sharpness of his statement by adding that he is still very much a supporter of Europe although he greatly objects to what’s going on in Brussels.

All democratic opposition parties immediately responded to Lázár’s outrageous remark. MSZP, DK, and Együtt, independently from one another, interpreted the announcement as an admission that the Orbán government wants to lead the country out of the union and that holding the referendum on refugee quotas is a first step in this direction. This idea is not at all new. Ever since Orbán announced the referendum, opposition leaders have warned the public of the dangers of participating in a vote that might be used by the Orbán government as an endorsement of their hidden agenda.

The government naturally denies the existence of such a plan. I am inclined to believe them. I find it difficult to imagine that the Orbán government would willingly forgo billions of euros and risk the political, economic, and social upheaval that would undoubtedly follow Hungary’s departure from the European Union.

What will Viktor Orbán say if Hungarians are discriminated?

What will Viktor Orbán say if Hungarians are discriminated against?

We have discussed at some length British xenophobia and racism as well as the reluctance of British politicians to point to racism as one of the reasons the Brits voted for Brexit. Well, Hungarian politicians don’t worry about appearances. Moreover, as Orbán has stressed often enough, they loathe politically correct speech. They like “honest talk,” which is missing in Western European countries. Thus, Lázár had no problem saying that “although there may be some demographic difficulties [in Hungary], the Hungarian government intends to remedy the situation not with African migrants but with Hungarians from the neighboring countries.” Fidesz politicians are not ashamed to share their racism in public. Yet during the same press conference he insisted on the rights of the mostly East European economic migrants in Great Britain, whose presence was at least in part responsible for the Brexit vote.

June 30, 2016
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Roderick Beck.
Guest

Economy would collapse without EU money. And the government would be clearly responsible. Fidesz hates being held responsible.

Guest

Re: SS as ‘historian’

It is ironic that a historian of the Holocaust does not perhaps bring a bit of analysis to bear on what Arendt noted as the ‘fundamental’ issue of post war intellectual life and that is the problem of evil. Szakaly’s revisionist history which refers directly to a ‘plague’ provides an inkling of some difficult problems when the writers themselves unwittingly or willingly fall into that world of unfortunately being a plague carrier as they interpret events of the past that some have no recollection of. Then every paragraph arguably suffers the taint of infection.

webber
Guest

And yet, I believe Orban might just be insane enough to take Hungary out of the EU at an opportune moment.
The Hungarian electorate would never support Hexit (or mexit? or mijárat?), however. Even the majority of Fideszniks are against it. So, it would have to be by some very foul means. But I believe Orban is capable of it.

pappp
Guest
I totally agree with Webber. Orban likes the money, sure, and his cronies do too and Russia also has a lot of money too (as long as Hungary purchases Russian gas, oil and refined uranium the money can be shared with the top politicians). But – much more importantly – Orban is a true believer of the Alexandr Dugin-ideology about the terminal decline of the West. Orban very much admires Russia and China, especially the fact that both countries are managed by strong leaders (of course the two systems are very different in other respects) and that both countries still have aggressive, tough citizens who would never give in to the West (the US, the liberals etc). This uncompromising anti-liberalism is his ideal, but he thinks his hands are tied – for the time being. I have absolutely no doubts that – provided that he is still an active politician at that time – should the amount of subsidies start to decline (due to policy changes within the EU) Orban would do any and everything to leave the EU. Anybody who believes that Orban is pro-EU is deluding himself. Lázár knows that his anti-EU stance is very popular in rural… Read more »
Istvan
Guest

It is possible in the years to come EU cohesion funds going to all Central European nations will be cut to a significant degree. The EU simply may no longer have the credit line to keep this game going in the future, only time will tell. That would dramatically change the calculations on the benefits of belonging to the EU for Fidesz.

I agree that this is a possibility and Orban can pivot without notice and his troops will fall in line.

Crant
Guest

Orban should get as much as possible out of the EU and then get out. Every country should.

petofi
Guest

I have said it before, and it is my opinion now, that Orban is bent on the destruction of Hungary. In those terms, the next logical step is working the exit from the EU…

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

I remember a time, after 2010 when a respected Hungarian intellectual said to me, yes everything you say is true, but Orbán is not an antisemite.
Let us agree today: The king is naked, Orbán and his ilk are responsible for Veritas, which was established in order to falsify Hungarian History. To write Revisionist history is antisemitic and also anti-Hungarian.

Guest

@Karl Pfeifer
Today 1:20 am

Beg to disagree with your last sentence.

Veritas-style revisionist history is venomously antisemitic all right, but not at all anti-Hungarian. On the contrary, its sly and visceral antisemitism makes it very typically Hungarian.

Veritas-style revisionist history operates in the style of Móricka megmagyarázza a bizonyítványát (little Morrie explains his school report), which in Móricka’s case is amusing, but in the case Veritas it is a typically Hungarian combination of the pathetic and the disgusting.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

I do not consider antisemitism a “typically Hungarian combination” and I hope the day will come, when most Hungarians will understand this.

Guest

“….a respected Hungarian intellectual said to me, yes everything you say is true, but Orbán is not an antisemite.”

Wel, like I said before, Orbán used to wish his colleagues “a Jew-free goodnight!”
But I guess the “respected Hungarian intellectual” whom you mention would not consider this as anitsemitism. So how would he explain it away?

Tyrker
Guest

Dismiss it as hearsay?

Guest
@time4change Today 3:15 am Antisemitism of both the racial and religious kind is part of the woof and warp of Hungarian identity, just the same as with all other Balkan and East European nationalities. The normal distribution curve of antisemitism in Hungary ranges from mild hostility through sly and sneaky malevolence to vicious blood thirstyness. On this scale, Orbán is located somewhere in the sly and sneaky malevolence domain. That “respected Hungarian intellectual” of Mr. Karl Pfeiffer must have been living with his eyes covered and ears blocked not to have been aware of this, even back in 2010. After all, even the MSZP was (and is) full of so-called “antifascist” antisemites, so why would the Christian-Nationalist Führer of Fidesz, the fomenter of extra-parliamentary mayhem not long before, be the shining non-antisemitic exception among his ilk? Inability to recognize a crypto-Hungarist antisemite in a figure like Orbán (even in 2010) is what comes of sitting in a moral cesspool all one’s life: after a while one doesn’t even notice the smell. As one who has been born in Hungary, but with few if any pleasant memories from there, I can only be forever grateful that Hungary is no longer my… Read more »
PALIKA
Guest

These are fine thoughts even if expressed with too much vehemence. I do not know where your new home is, but if it is the UK you will agree that the remarks you have applied to Hungarians and East Europeans apply with similar force to the UK population. The Labour Party is riddled with antisemites mascarading as critics of Israel.
The anti migrant ranting mob are less discriminating, they hate all foreigners.
The middle class are more polite but I will never forget being described in a calm discussion in the neighbourhood by one of the locals as an “educated foreigner”. The message was clear.

Guest
PALIKA Today 5:00 am I have lived in Australia since 1957, except for ten years in Israel between 1965 and 1975. Antisemitism is very much a fringe issue here, rife primarily among the East Europeans and Arabs that settled here. But having assiduously avoided the company of East Europeans and Arabs in Australia, I myself never ever felt even a hint of antisemitism over the many decades I have been living here. On the contrary, many, perhaps most ordinary Australians of British and Irish descent are perceptibly sympathetic toward Jews and greatly admire the immense contributions Jews have made to developing Australia into the wonderful country it is today. (Notwithstanding the by now largely forgotten fact that the backbone of the by now thankfully long defunct tiny Australian communist parties were – guess what? – also largely of Jewish descent.) As to the UK, the antisemitism in Labour is principally of the pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel kind, rather than the traditional racial and religious kind prevalent in Hungary and the rest of Eastern Europe. This “new antisemitism” in Britain is driven principally by the huge Muslim constituency within Labour, as well as by memories of the bitter conflict with nationalist (zionist) Jews in… Read more »
Guest

Re: ‘Veritas.. pathetic and disgusting’

And deeply insidious for the reason that its whole structure is to establish another parallel narrative in the realm of historical ideas so as to add to the thinking in groups adjusting themselves to a very evil memory. If it works some in the country would deem it a test-lab success in the annals of modern revisionist history.
And it would suggest great import for future historical analysis within the country. Herodotus was thought the ‘father of lies’. This appellation just might be hung on a country one day down the line.

Guest

Re: ‘As one who has been born in Hungary, but with few if any pleasant memories from there, I can only be forever grateful that Hungary is no longer my country and Hungarians are no longer my people’

Sure looks that we all have our own perspectives when it comes to the mother country. Historical events events almost destroyed my relationship to it yet my great interest precluded a complete split like some I know. I guess I’m like moth to a Magyar light. And I seem to fly around in wreckage both moral and spiritual. . And I need to know why and understand. This is a country my parents left for the United States. If they were alive I wonder if they could recognize its changes and agree with it. I’d think not. Their minds would have been oriented to other things besides wasting time on hating people.

Crant
Guest

10/10

Crant
Guest

That should be the new test for anti-Semitism: do you “greatly admire” the “immense contributions”? If not, then we know that you are a > Nazi. Note, mere admiration of contributions is not enough. If admiration is too small > Nazi. The admiration must be at least “great”. But not too great! If it’s too great then it is likely dishonest > Nazi. Likewise if you think the contributions were less than “immense” > Nazi. But if you think they were more than immense, for example, limitless or infinite, then you are trying too hard which likely makes you a > Nazi. It’s a fine line to come across as “perceptibly sympathetic”.

I wonder if it occurred to you why anyone should regard “Jewish” people one way or another as opposed to you individually? What were your contributions? Or do you see yourself solely as an extension of an ethnicity?

When you talk about “Hungarians” or “East Europeans”, you certainly sound like someone who views people as a whole.

Stephen Varcoe
Guest

Antisemitism is not a part of the woof and warp of British identity and I utterly resent the comparison you make with with Hungary.
Whilst on the subject of comparisons I should also like to say that neither is the Labour Party riddled with antisemites masquerading as critics of Israel. Some British people still criticise the Labour leader for having “supported” the IRA despite the uneasy peace that now exists in N. Ireland.
As for the ranting anti migrant mob, well I’ve been back in the UK now for three years and am yet to see it. Only a very small proportion of leave voters are actually xenophobic.
As for being described as an educated foreigner, I can only apologise for this persons complete lack of tact. However I should just like to say in their defence that you are educated and you are foreign.

Crant
Guest

What does “xenophobic” mean? Do you even know? If you want Britain for Brits are xenophobic? If you want Israel for the Jews are you xenophobic? Labels are easy.

Observer
Guest

Again, the Szakály/Veritas episode fits perfectly in the larger picture – a quasi fascist regime hires a know fascism/Horthy apologet to whitewash these earlier regimes in a “scientific” way.
The purpose is to show that there is nothing wrong with the (Orban) quasi fascist dictatorship, we had such before and it was not bad at all.

Orban personally is just a habitual anti-Semite, as many Hungarians are, no deep feelings or serious ideology. His heinous and sometimes maniacal hate is reserved for those standing in his way or for those who had said/done something stirring his deep complexes (Gyurcsány, rev. G.Iványi, M.Révész).

One way or the other, the hate flows freely in the Orban circles/regime and it has by now imbued the whole Hungarian society. Such quantities of venom can not be absorbed and are often discharged by blood letting.

Guest

@Observer
Today 4:56 am

Szerecsenmosdatás, avagy Móricka megmagyarázza a bizonyítványát. (Whitewashing – or Little Morrie “explaining” his school report.) :-)))

Guest

Yes, prejudices seem ingrained in the regular Hungarians’ minds – not only against Jews, Gypsies, their neighbouring states – almost everybody who is not a “Tiszta Magyar”!

I’ve grown used to people cracking antisemitic jokes in a normal conversation, speaking derogatorily about Roma and Romanians, obviously being envious about Germans and Austrians – why do they make so much more money?

Sometimes my wife and I look at each other – knowing that it’s no use trying to start a discussion with our neighbour e g,, we just hope that the next generation will be fairer …

petofi
Guest

Totally agree.

One of the attractions of Orban for Hungarians is that he provides the adrenaline high of expressing hatred without reserve. Oh how Hungarians–quasi German nazis–love that.

Tyrker
Guest

64% of Hungarians would vote Remain in a Huxit referendum: http://mno.hu/belfold/a-magyarok-tobbsege-nem-orul-a-brit-kilepesnek-1349776

pappp
Guest

There has been no campaigning, Tyrker. Even in the UK the most underdeveloped regions which received the most EU aid voted for Brexit. You can’t persuade with rational arguments poor, rural, uneducated and angry, frustrated people to love the EU because it gives Hungary money – it’s money to local Fidesz-loyal min-oligarchs anyway and not to individuals. I would never underestimate Fidesz’ campaign machinery. A lot of Fidesz-loyal “independent” organisations (with a lot of money and full Fidesz media support) would campaign for leaving the EU and Orban – to keep appearances – would very tepidly campaign for remain (like Corbyn did). I’m not sure Hungary would vote for remain in the end., probably, but it could go either way.

Guest

“Orban – to keep appearances – would very tepidly campaign for remain (like Corbyn did)”

Exchange Corbyn with Cameron – and voilá!

PS:

Some German friends are already telling me:

A Huxit would be good for us Germans – then Hungarians would be friendlier again and “do anything” for the tourists’ money, just like in good old Kádár times at the Balaton …

webber
Guest

They were less friendly in the “good old days.”
Only your friends were a lot younger (we all were), and doubtless more attractive.

Crant
Guest

Don’t you Germans go to Thailand for that kind of stuff? Or are the authorities stricter there nowadays? Bangladesh maybe?

petofi
Guest

The way to Hungexit–embroil the question in Hungary’s independence and ‘virility’, and the Hungaricoes will stand tall and vote ‘out’ …

Crant
Guest

The EU pushing social agenda on other countries will likely to contribute not just to a Huxit but a Czexit, Slexit, Crexit, Frexit, Dexit, Spexit, Svexit, Finxit, Porxit, etc

pappp
Guest

The government’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs would also vote for Huxit.

http://444.hu/2016/07/01/kovacs-zoltan-is-kilepne-az-europai-uniobol

petofi
Guest

Kovacs is one of the most servile of Orban’s minions, where the race is who can anticipate the boss’s wishes first…

pappp
Guest

OT, A good article. With the new “leadership”, MSZP will continue its impotent existence, with the chairman probably being blackmailed by Péter Polt.

That’s why i think Fidesz will win, it controls these anyway not too ballsy people (Pista Hiller already received a warm welcome in the government’s mouthpiece).

http://444.hu/2016/07/01/egyre-tobben-sejtik-hogy-megjelent-az-mszp-ben-a-fidesz

George Gomori
Guest

Dear Eva, I have been reading your excellent comments for a while and I usually agree with most of them. In this article there is an unfortunate typo: in the middle of the piece you call Lázár rather than Szakály the director-general of Veritas. Could you correct it please?
Bst wishes,
George Gömöri (London)

Guest

I’ve already written this somewhere:

Maybe we should thank Horthy for the discrimination against Jews – it was why people like Szilard, Teller and von Neumann (and many more …) left Hungary and went to the USA where they were influential in the Manhattan Project.

Without their contribution the Nazis might have been the first to build an Atom Bomb …

End of sarcasm!

PS:

The first sentence of Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt:
Sir: some recent work by E. Fermi an L. Szilard, wich has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future.

And of course:
Fermi left Italy in 1938 to escape new Italian Racial Laws that affected his Jewish wife Laura Capon.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrico_Fermi
So Mussolini also helped …

Guest

Re: ‘Maybe we should thank Horthy for the discrimination against Jews’

Any interpretation can come up, eh? Maybe ‘Mein Kampf’ will get a new critical look-see for historical writing too. The book was lousy of course in style and the ideas crazy on the face of it. But the influence oh the influence on millions and millions! Time to take a look again ..;-)…

webber
Guest

N.b. Hexit seems a more viable term than Huxit. After all, it is
Brexit (not Brixit)=British exit
Grexit=Greek exit

uxit means nothing.
But hexit, when broken down in a different way, also has another meaning (hex it).

Guest

What about Hu-exit, or Hüexit – reminds me of hülye, rhymes with hülyeség, one of my wife’s favourite words when describing political activities in Hungary 🙂

PS:

Right now the British Conservatives are even funnier in their crazy activities – hülyeség is the right word!

Member

My vote is to call it Hunxit. It has all the right associations. Sounds ridiculous, foregrounds the Karpathian Bottom-Feeders’ atavistic conceits, and conjures up the image of suitably stooped and ignominious shuffling out the back door…

webber
Guest

Pr. Hung-zit?
I prefer Hexit, but admit Hunxit does have a certain disgusting connotation

petofi
Guest

I know, I know, this is a blog about Hunary, but I can’t help weighing in with the recent happenings in the states:

A.G. Lynch has now agreed to follow FBI recommendations on whether to prosecute Hillary over the e-mails. If prosectued, Hillary will have to withdraw from the presidential race. It occurs to me that Sanders stubborn continuation would throw a wrench in to developing
post-Hillary plans–to whit, if Bernie has resigned his run, than the convention would be free to draft Biden and the Dems would have their ideal ticket: Biden/Warren. But if Sanders continues, he would have to be given the primary post…

PALIKA
Guest

You are right to mention this. With God’s help we will be finally rid of her. Bernie I like. Biden I like.

webber
Guest
You missed the context. A.G. Lynch had a meeting with Bill Clinton. Lynch claims they didn’t discuss anything related to Hillary. She is under a lot of fire for even meeting Clinton. To defend herself, she has said she will follow through on FBI recommendations, whatever they may be, on whether to prosecute Hillary Clinton. That is, the Attorney General is just confirming that she will do her job. What is so spectacular about that? Can you tell me? Maybe for a European, the fact that a state prosecutor would do her job is news? Let’s be honest here – WHAT is Hillary Clinton accused of, precisely? Of using her private email account to send work-related mail? Is that the heinous act? Is that the accusation? The Republican-authored Ben Ghazi report exonerated Clinton of wrongdoing there. So, the big crime is sending emails from her personal account? IF that is the accusation, I think you’re going to get a huge “Are you kidding me?” from the American public. Which American citizen has not done this at some point? It’s even more ridiculous than the charges against Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. “He had an affair!! He had an affair,… Read more »
webber
Guest
webber
Guest

Here is an outsiders’ explanation – a Canadian’s explanation (just for Petofi) – of the issue of Clinton’s emails, with the summary judgment “Was this against the law? Probably not.”
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31806907

petofi
Guest

@Webber, re Hillary

Actually, it’s much simpler than that: Hillary did something she wasn’t supposed to; continued to do it for a long time; and then, when called upon to answer the accusations, SHE LIED.

I suppose the worst is her panicking and lying.
That certainly augurs ill for her ‘character-in-action’…

webber
Guest

Character is one thing. You can think whatever you like about her character.
The question is, is what she did illegal. If it was not, and I suspect it wasn’t (for reasons outlined above), then there will be no recommendation of charges from the FBI.

I think it’s fair to assume she will be the Democrats’ candidate. None of us have to like it. Still, she’s a sight better than Trump.

webber
Guest

P.S. The same nonsense was spouted about Bill Clinton’s character. I thought he was a good President. A lousy husband, clearly, and not of spotless character, but a good President.

PALIKA
Guest

Bill is history. His wife will soon be too. She is a total disaster

webber
Guest

Oh, I don’t know. She seems to have a pretty darned good chance of becoming the first woman president.

She can beat Trump, barring some nasty revelation. If the emails is all they’ve got, well… They are nuts if they think voters will see that as an issue.

Trump is a draft-dodger who got out of the draft with “bone spurs”, and now can’t remember which foot (or feet – once he said both) the spurs are supposedly on. That’s just one of the lies he’s been caught telling.

Compared with him, Hillary Clinton is a paragon of honesty

And let’s be clear about something else: Bill Clinton is “history” because of term limits. A great regulation of presidential powers that all democratic countries should have, in my view.

petofi
Guest

@weber

I have an intuition that the Dem power structure is not all that pleased with Hillary as standard bearer.
I believe they’re shaking, waiting for the shoe to drop on several indiscretions. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the e-mail scandal will send Hillary packing. That would be half way to the Dem’s ideal ticket: Biden/Warren or,
Biden/Sanders,,,

Crant
Guest

Someone who sacrifices national security solely to avoid having her records be potentially disclosable is not fit to run the US. If that is something that you cannot understand then we live on different planets

Guest
Guest

Hillary was deemed ‘extremely careless’. If she ever becomes POTUS I sure hope the FBI checks her passwords. ‘abc’ and ‘usa’ just won’t cut it.

Stephen Varcoe
Guest

Please can you point tell me where can I read the discussion about British xenophobia and racism?

Guest
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