Tag Archives: migration

Hungarians’ changing priorities; shifts in the left-of-center media

Changing opinions on political issues 

Yesterday I saw a Hír TV news segment that I found intriguing. A woman reporter with a cameraman behind her stopped passersby wanting to know what the “man in the street” thinks about current affairs. This is the umpteenth time that I have encountered such an exercise. The result was always disappointing. Eight or nine people out of ten simply refused to answer any of the questions while the other(s) proclaimed their loyalty to Viktor Orbán, who has created a wonderful, prosperous country. To my great surprise this encounter turned out differently. Everybody was willing to speak, and there was only one woman out of about ten who was enthusiastic about Viktor Orbán on account of his defense of the country against the “migrants.”

The reporter wanted to know what people think are the most urgent tasks and problems Hungarians face today. The answers were practically uniform: healthcare and education. A couple of people mentioned low wages and inflation, especially food prices. When people didn’t cite migration as a problem, the journalist asked them about the topic. With the exception of one person, they all claimed that the danger of migration is not in the forefront of their concerns. There are no migrants in Hungary, and migrants show little inclination to settle there anyway.

One of those dissatisfied citizens

At first I thought I may simply have seen an atypical, or skewed, news segment. But then, a few hours later, I found an article in 24.hu reporting that “Hungarians worry more about poverty and healthcare than migration.” It summarized the findings of two international organizations, Eurobarometer and the conservative International Republican Institute. Both indicated that migration is not uppermost in Hungarians’ minds. The International Republican Institute’s findings are especially interesting because the respondents were not faced with a set of prepared options. Here poverty and the lack of social equality (28%) were people’s main concerns, followed by corruption (15%), unemployment (13%), healthcare (12%), and “migration” (4%).

But in that case, why did the Orbán government launch a new campaign against the “Soros Plan”? Knowing the careful political calculations of Fidesz, we must assume that the questions in the new “national consultation” will be slanted in such a way that it will speak to the concerns of the majority of Hungarians. There are signs that in the present Fidesz vocabulary the “Soros Plan” is actually just another name for the European Union. In this case, the main thrust of this new campaign will again be anti-EU. But it has to be structured so that it doesn’t cause the kind of adverse reaction that the “Stop Brussels” campaign did.

Changes in the left-of center media

Those of you who are able to watch Hungarian-language television must be aware of the slow transformation of ATV, which until about two years ago was the only independent TV station. At that time Lajos Simicska, Viktor Orbán’s old high school friend and the financial brain behind Fidesz, turned against Orbán, allegedly because of his pro-Russian orientation. This put an end to the pro-government stance of Simicska’s Magyar Nemzet and Hír TV. At about the same time, major changes began to be introduced at ATV, which is owned by the fundamentalist Assembly of Faith. It is hard to tell whether these changes were made in order to boost viewership or for political reasons, but there are fewer programs for people who are interested in political news. Reporters were hired from TV2, a commercial station that caters to a different audience from the one that ATV had attracted earlier. Also, two important reporters, Olga Kálmán and Antónia Mészáros, left the station. Kálmán joined Hír TV and Mészáros left the profession altogether. In addition, several reporters simply disappeared from the screen. The new crew was, at least in my opinion, not worth watching.

The final straw was the replacement of Kálmán and Mészáros with Zsuzsa Demcsák, who began her career as a fashion model but later spent years at TV2, a commercial station recently bought by Andy Vajna, most likely as a proxy for the Hungarian government. After the change of ownership, reporters started leaving TV2, including Demcsák in April. ATV jumped at what the management considered to be an opportunity and hired her. The arrangement was that Demcsák and Egon Rónai would rotate being anchor of “Egyenes beszéd” on a weekly basis. Demcsák’s first week on the job was dreadful. The woman was simply out of her depth. The following week she showed off her incompetence on ATV Start, an early morning political program. Then came Friday morning when she was, I’m afraid, quite drunk while interviewing Tibor Szanyi, MSZP’s European parliamentary member. She was suspended, awaiting the results of an internal investigation, but I’m almost certain that we are not going to see her on ATV again.

On the other hand, Hír TV came out with several new programs. This morning I watched two of them. The first was “Elmúlt 8 év” (The past eight years) with Györgyi Szöllősi, who is a good reporter. The other was “180 fok” (180 degrees) with Sándor Csintalan, a somewhat controversial character who started off as an MSZP politician and at one point was in the Fidesz camp. He is now a committed foe of Orbán. The program is in part a call-in show and and in part a series of interviews. The first guests were Miklós Haraszti, who is no stranger to the readers of Hungarian Spectrum, and the head of Iránytű (Compass), a polling company allegedly close to Jobbik. I encountered Iránytű’s director before and found his views moderate and balanced. And I loved the screen behind Csintalan, showing an idyllic countryside with a charming peasant house when suddenly Orbán’s infamous choo-choo train goes across. The train appears every five minutes or so. I laughed every time. I think I will also check out another new program called “Magyar Exodus,” which will be mostly filmed abroad, with Hungarian emigrants.

Unfortunately, these two cable channels reach very few people, but their existence is still vitally important. One can only hope that ATV will find its bearings soon because otherwise it can close up shop.

September 17, 2017

Mária Schmidt’s “Israelification of Europe” and Mária M. Kovács’s review

Well-known pro-government “intellectuals” often create blogs on which they write articles paid for by the Orbán government. Mária Schmidt, by contrast, offers her services gratis. She doesn’t need the few thousand forints the Orbán government coughs up. She is a wealthy woman who got even richer thanks to the good offices of the current administration.

On her blog, “Látószög” (Viewing Angle), she and a handful of other people post regularly. She herself writes at least one article a month, sometimes two. Her August piece is devoted to her favorite topic of late, Islam’s threat to Europe. The title of her article is “Israelification of Europe.”

Budapest Sentinel translated the full article, for which I’m most grateful because it has stirred up quite a controversy. I’m reprinting it below.

♦ ♦ ♦

Mária M. Kovács, history professor at Central European University, wrote a short article about this Schmidt piece with the ironic title: “The Bayerization of Israelization.” A year ago an article appeared in The Times of Israel by Emmanuel Heymann, a young Israeli who has written extensively on international relations, titled “The Israelization of Europe is under way.” In it he talks about waves of Muslim immigrants who “have enriched old Europe and positively transformed European societies.” But this immigration “also brought with it new challenges, most notably in integration and assimilation.” Religious enclaves in larger European cities have sprung up and many of the newcomers don’t feel part of their adopted countries. In addition, terrorism has reached the European continent and there are security concerns. Israel has had to face similar challenges throughout its existence. Perhaps now that radical Islam has reached Europe, Europeans will have more sympathy for Israel’s handling of its own problems. Israel and Europe share similar values, the values of liberal democracy, and Europe will also have to recognize that these values are incompatible with the “totalitarian political ideology of Islam.”

Mária Schmidt’s “Israelization of Europe” sends a very different message. Her Europe, as Mária M. Kovács aptly describes it, “is Zsolt Bayer’s frightening, dehumanized world full of demons.” In this world everybody is threatened by foreigners, people of other races and religions. No individuals exist in this world, only groups. And every group is homogeneous, with a common goal and common will.

Not only are the alien groups homogeneous; “the political leaders and members of the intellectual elite are also uniform.” In her view, the “whole European mainstream is made up of aberrant and mentally ill people who are so stupid that they can barely wait to be enslaved.” They want to “become victims” in order to escape from the guilt they feel for Europe’s past.

For years Zsolt Bayer has been saying almost the same thing. In Bayer’s Europe events are directed by conspirators. Immigrants who want to conquer Europe and all the European politicians, churchmen, and intellectuals who don’t share Bayer’s and Schmidt’s worldview are in effect collaborators.

“The Europe of Heymann and Schmidt don’t resemble one another. Heymann’s Europe is multi-faceted and able to handle political debate. Bayer’s and Schmidt’s Europe is led by sick, aberrant people with whom one shouldn’t, in fact mustn’t, find consensus. For Heymann the foundation of mutual understanding are the principles of liberal democracy. For Schmidt liberal democracy cannot be the foundation of understanding and empathy. The ideas of Heymann become an inexorable attack in Schmidt’s hands. She turns Heymann’s call inside out and attacks the very European and Israeli values in whose defense Heymann wrote.”


Revisionist historian Mária Schmidt warns of the “Israelification of Europe”

Schmidt Maria3

“If people living in a given area are unable to defend their lands, they are going to lose them. Meanwhile they are forced to share their acquired and accumulated possessions with the invited or uninvited settlers, which leads to calculable social tensions. Because every community exists by the grace of its borders, and works by distinguishing between insiders and outsiders.” – Mária Schmidt, historian

Translation of Terror House director Mária Schmidt’s op-ed piece “The Israelization of Europe” posted by Látószög (Viewing Angle) on August 26th, 2016.

“If we want to be generous, we need borders.” – Paul Sheffer

When I first traveled in Israel, before the first intifada, in spite of being a blonde woman I walked alone in Jerusalem’s old town. Later, as I visited every ten years, I noticed that everyday life there became more tense, and the feeling of safety came to be in short supply. The little bus we took six years ago with friends and family for excursions in the Holy Land was stopped every 500 meters by soldiers who came on board and inspected it. The horrific security procedures at their airports have already become normal in other parts of the world. In spite of how painful it might have been for Jews who had broken out behind the closed walls of the ghetto, they had no choice but to encircle the territory of Palestine with border walls in hopes of controlling and identifying terrorists, whose ingenuity and determination grow day by day. Those who take Israeli lives with knives, with swords, with bombs, with guns. Those Muslim fanatics, who don’t value worldly life, and who believe their acts of evil to be tickets to paradise.

We are on the road to the Israelization of Europe. This is clear by now to everyone except the left-liberal elite. How and why are they anesthetizing themselves? How much will they give up to show that they are carefree, acting in good faith, and “humane”? We’ve already learned that no one is stupid for free, especially those who are used to getting paid handsomely for it. (It’s not an accident that Gerard Schröder became a lobbyist for Gazprom after he had signed an enormous contract with the company as Chancellor. It wasn’t an accident that Barroso ended up at Goldman Sachs after he had shown that he was sympathetic to their problems during the 2008 financial crisis. Tony Blair, the Clintons, the Bidens, the Kerrys, etc., all receive millions of dollars for their services as lobbyists, advisers, lecturers, or from the mandates of their sons and relatives.) I wouldn’t be surprised if in time we receive news of a new “accommodations” where one of our current “migrant-lovers” ends up in the services of Soros, or some Saudi company.

But until then let’s look a bit more thoroughly at exactly what we’re facing. Let’s try to answer the following question: Why has the West, so ashamed of its past, so effortlessly glided over Muslim colonization of a significant part of Europe which has for centuries meant threat, invasion, and the loss of millions of lives? Hungary lived for 150 years under Turkish rule, which hindered development and led to a demographic catastrophe (of 4.5 million Hungarians, only 1.5 million remained by the end of the Turkish occupation, many of which were slaves) which had to be remedied with the mass settlement here of foreign ethnicities. Spain, southern France and the Balkans were under Muslim domination for centuries. Because Islam, when it could and can, and where it could and can, came and comes as a conqueror.

“Every virtue, if taken too far, becomes immoral.” – Bernhard Vogel

Islam is one of the world’s religions. Its followers are found in every part of the world. In many places theocracy is operating at the same time as secular power. Elsewhere, following the principle of separation of church and state, they focus on moral and religious questions. In its past and present, the same kinds of acceptable and unacceptable elements are found in Islam as are found in Christianity. Why is it that Christianity has for decades been in the crosshairs of criticism, and recently on a daily basis is exposed to attacks by the advanced West, while, according to these same critics, it wouldn’t be suitable and in fact isn’t permitted to criticize Islam? In its disorientation of the late ’60s and early ’70s, the Western left-liberal intellectual elite found a new object of adoration in the Third World. They came across the Palestinians, and took them, and the whole region and Islam with them, into their patronage. They compensate with condescension their turning of a blind eye to the qualities of Islam which the Western world would not tolerate, and thus don’t consider them equal parties. This all means in practice that they use a double standard. The first is maintained for the European left, which considering the sinful nature of communism, sympathizes with all manifestations of left-wing terrorism. The other is for the “exploited” and “oppressed” Third World, where for them the denial of equal rights before the law for women and sexual minorities is no problem, nor are acts of terrorism as political pressure. This standard the other side of the political spectrum imposes on us and institutionalizes with incessant intellectual carpet bombing.

The Western elite is convinced that the turban-wearers and burnoose or robe-wearers’ minds are not developed, and that Muslims are reliant on their patronage, for which they expect gratitude. They do not presume that Muslims think in long-term strategies, and that they thoroughly plan and precisely implement their steps. The occupation of Europe is an old project of theirs, the implementation of which is launched through excessive demographic relocation, placing ideological pressure on the shoulders of the West with their conscious and aggressive political and economic power, and above all, with the threat of turning off the oil tap. They buy weapons from the West which they use against each other and against the West, and they buy cutting-edge Western technology while flooding Western cities with migrants. They use a part of this migrant community as a fifth column, as hidden terrorist cells, as pressure points, and as a political “ace-in-the-hole.” Whenever and for whatever they need to. Western progressive intellectuals are truly playing the role again of the useful idiot, as they were in service of the goals of Lenin, Stalin and Mao. If in anything, in this they are practiced.

In Hungary in 2013, 19 thousand asylum-seekers were registered. In 2014 their numbers grew to 43 thousand, and last year to 177 thousand. The numbers speak for themselves. And we aren’t even a migration destination country!

This kind of large, quickly expanding foreign community with a different culture, different language and different religion is impossible to integrate. It wouldn’t succeed even if they weren’t arriving with instructions and intentions to demand their own schools, and churches, and separate cemeteries, and ritual butchers, and community centers, so that they can keep and care for their own customs and live uninterrupted in their own closed world and develop their own communities. Of course, the accepting state would be responsible for financing all of the above. Additionally the Quran schools and prayer houses, and the preachers who are responsible for the replacement, recruitment and activation of the extremists, will be paid for in large part by the Saudis. The internet culture and social applications which support and allow separation and the exclusion and outlawing of dissent will also move toward the closing off of their own groups. With the help of their satellites they will have their own television stations, so that they can receive in their own language the ideological ammunition to shame and reject the way of life of those receiving them. No other voice reaches them, only the noise of their own group’s extremists. So they have less and less chance of integration; the majority live on welfare and stay poor. Of course, it’s not the kind of poverty they knew back home in their leaky houses, but the meaning of this will quickly slip away, since in their new homes they will have become affluent. But this standard of living will remain unattainable for most of them, because their lack of language skills or professional skills will make them incapable of getting a good and therefore well-paid job. The spirit of Western tolerance will describe a whole new generation on an ethnic or “cultural” basis while assisting in the emergence of an inferior religiously and ethnically based social class. 26 percent of Somalis, 34 percent of Iraqis, 42 percent of Afghans and 62 percent of Iranians had employment before the great migration waves. Today the statistics are even more abysmal.

“The opposite of good is good intentions.” – Kurt Tucholsky

Chancellor Merkel doesn’t fret on these questions. “We can do it!” (Wir schaffen das) she says, while thinking of what kinds of logistical steps are needed to spread all over Europe these migrants who still don’t want to assimilate. But she is indifferent to how the regularities of coexistence might be formed, because she represents the kind of Germany which is ashamed of its past, ashamed of its present and can hardly wait for, as a citizen of the globalized world, for someone, say, the Muslims to conquer them and absolve them of their Nazi past, of their eternal perpetrator status, which by themselves they are unable to let go of, unable to move past. (Adolf liked Islam too, and did business with his uncle Arafat, Chief Mufti of Jerusalem.) How great it would be, if they could finally play the role of a victim! Well, wouldn’t it be an enviable status? They don’t look for an answer to the question, that if to them Western Christian culture is worthless, because in the European Union’s proposed constitution they couldn’t even refer to it, and if Europe is not Christian anymore, then what is it? What is the community of values to which the newcomers must adapt, that they must accept, embrace? What do we require of them? How will they have to form their communities so that we will be able to live with them? Or will we adapt to them? Do they have no such duty? Where does the practice lead where we excuse the terror attacks that threaten the existence of our communities as psychological disorders? And if this doesn’t satisfy popular opinion, then comes the common mantra: that misery and the colonial past are responsible for terrorist acts. However, as they advertise it: “This is a war led by Allah between Muslim nations and the infidel, pagan nations.” The command is clear. “Kill the infidels,” as Allah said. “Then destroy the idol worshipers wherever you find them.”

We’re familiar with this spurious intellectualization. But we also know that the poor things aren’t terrorists, and they know other methods of suicide that don’t involve the destruction of others. We also learned that some people can take up arms to war and kill in God’s name, for its defense, or its diffusion. Hatred of unbelievers or followers of other faiths was not foreign to our culture in our past. Today, however, we fight religious wars in the form of culture wars, and we fiercely continue bloodless struggles. In this war, the “tolerant”, that is the left-liberal elite and their lackeys, proclaim that they don’t differentiate between cultures and values. In other words, there is only one type of culture and one type of value system, and that is theirs. With their full arsenal they propagandize that those who are arriving here have the same values, intentions and ambitions as they do, and they consider the same things useful and valuable as they do. If our values and culture are no different than theirs, then how can we expect them to adopt them? The equality of women, for example? I wonder if the Western left-liberal elite is simply stupid, or if some suicidal tendency has taken away their common sense and is spreading like an epidemic in Europe’s “credible” institutions, think tanks, universities, and in the air-conditioned left-liberal witches kitchens? And where are they coming across Soros’s dollars? The progressives have a particular tendency for guilt. They consider victims everyone who comes from a different part of the world or who has different colored skin, and they swoon that now finally they can prove how good, humane, tolerant, and multicultural they are! They look in the mirror and their very humanity looks back at them. Great! They can finally be proud. Because the Dutch, Germans, Swiss, etc. have not been able to be proud lately, because of all the sins of their ancestors. However, if they had been proud on an occasion or two of something like, say, a European Championship football match, they would have fallen immediately into the sin of nationalism, which is already almost racism, an unforgivable sin punishable by excommunication! This is how Western Europe is populated, brimming with fine good people!

The last 68-ers, the progressive party’s dying mummies.” – Houellebecq

In certain areas of Africa and the Near East, it took decades for people living there to get off their carpets and out of their tents, leave their dirt roads and cross into the age of skyscrapers, supersonic airplanes, television and internet. In a few years they had to be pulled forward centuries. This is a huge task, a burden, but also an achievement. This kind of turbo-modernization results in a state of shock, which the severing of tribal ties and forced integration into the alienating world of big cities only makes worse. Islam, in this context, provides a solid ground for those masses who end up in a disorienting world. Because Islam is law, rights and instruction. Roots and guidance. Patterns of behavior and a value system. In the context of someone coming to Europe, all of this could not be made any more important and indispensable for someone also having to deal with linguistic, racial and cultural differences. This all increases almost to the point of unbearability the identity crisis those migrants will face who left their homes for the false promise of an easy and successful life, and also for those who came by their own will. Upon arrival they will find that the kafirs, the unbelievers, the antisocial, barbaric, unclean, uncircumcised, depraved masses will not accept them. They will humiliate them with some kind of immigration procedure, they won’t give over their wives and daughters to them, the food and drink will not be what they are accustomed to, and the money they give them won’t be enough to provide them immediately with what they need to live comfortably. They will always be expecting gratitude from them everywhere, and expect that they should know what good people they are for having accepted and helped them. However, they know, and have learned, that if they were actually good people, then they would be Muslims.

In the tribal culture in which most of the influx was socialized, women are property to be bought and sold. The family, the tribe, the man’s good reputation and honor, are all dependent on the obedience and good behavior of the women in the family – meaning, her virginity and marital fidelity. This explains the practices of female genital mutilation and the death penalty for extramarital sexual relationships. Wearing of the headscarf, hijab and burka are compulsory. All of this, spiced with forced marriages and polygamy, is incompatible with the culture of gender equality practiced in the West. While the left-liberals supposedly advocate for same-sex marriage, the denial of basic human rights for sexual minorities by Muslims goes unnoticed. As does the European Jewish community, whose existence, independent of the Palestine-Israel conflict, is a thorn in their eyes. Let us not forget that most migrants’ mentality and worldview remains tribal, regardless of whether they also use 21st century technology developed in the West.

Let us note the argument of the migrant-lovers. They reference humanity, that is, morality, and at the same time demographic and labor needs. They argue that guarding the borders is impossible, and also that international laws dictate that we let everyone in. These are all lies. The fences raised on our borders meant noticeable and immediate relief from the pressure of immigration. They were forced to alter their itineraries, and the entry into Hungary’s territory became ordered, regulated, and lawful. These refute the empty dreams of the liberals that the borders are unnecessary, dreams that are contemptuous of the limits of democracy. If people living in a given area are unable to defend their lands, they are going to lose them. Meanwhile they are forced to share their acquired and accumulated possessions with the invited or uninvited settlers, which leads to calculable social tensions. Because every community exists by the grace of its borders, and works by distinguishing between insiders and outsiders.

The protection of EU borders is entrusted to Erdogan by Merkel and the union leaders panting at her heels, as they entrusted Kadhafi with Libya and Morocco, to crack down ruthlessly on African immigrants if need be. We wash our hands, and we pay. This way we stay good people and can educate everyone on democracy, humanity, and Europeanness.

I agree with Konrád György, that “after Nazism and communism, Islam is the third totalitarian ideology which seriously threatens Europe.” I also agree that “today’s refugees are not singular people who desire to be European citizens. Rather they are a faceless mass, which will in time develop into a parallel society. Along with the growth of their confidence, conflicts will also proliferate, because the Bible accepts the Quran, but the reverse is not true. Europe cannot be good and moral if it is also weak.”

The progressive intellectuals disregard all of this, without exception, and support Muslim migration. Because they feel that finally their opinion matters, and they can see themselves as important and as chosen, like they once did in the Maoist, Trotskyist and Communist movements, in the sit-down strikes and demonstrations of ’68. In the leftist salons they always spoiled that part of the intelligentsia which unscrupulously served progress, whatever class-warrior or multicultural costume they wore at the time. The progressives, who by now have become the politically correct Western mainstream, have for us caused the greatest damage by wanting to deprive us, European citizens, of our self-esteem and self-confidence. And this can hardly be approved of.

September 4, 2016

Refugee crisis brings out best and worst in Hungarians

The following conversation was transcribed and published by Richard Field in The Budapest Sentinel, an English-language internet site that allows people unfamiliar with the Hungarian language to gain an understanding of the current situation in the country. I’m republishing this revealing conversation that was heard this morning with the permission of Richard Field.

Class FM

The following exchange took place this morning on Hungary’s leading FM radio station, Class FM, between Morning Show hosts Balázs Sebestyén (left) and György Nógrádi, and “Anna” (right), an actress who frequently goes on the show to complain about things that upset her.

When the subject turned to the thousands of Syrian, Pakistani, and Afghan refugees camped out at various train stations and parks in Budapest, the show departed radically from its usual mirthful format. In short, Sebestyén taught Anna a lesson she will never forget!

The original conversation can be heard in Hungarian here.

(Playful banter)

Balázs Sebestyén: You seem to be in a good mood.

Anna: I only appear to be. I’m actually not in such a good mood.

BS: What’s the matter?

Anna: Have you visited the vicinity of any of the train stations in Budapest recently?

BS: No, but I’ve heard about what is happening there. Do I hear correctly that we are turning to a serious theme? Do you want to talk a bit about the refugees?

Anna: Yes. I was going in the direction of the Nyugati (Western) train station the other day. There is a place that makes good chimney cakes and I thought I would take some home to my daughter. But then I decided not to buy them because I didn’t go there. What was going on in the train station was shocking. And Nyugati is nothing. If you go to the John Paul II square, or if you go to the area of Keleti (Eastern) station, it is really beyond belief the kinds of conditions you encounter. As someone who lives in this city, I reject this. . . . It’s filthy. I heard that it was necessary to disinfect Budapest public transportation vehicles because people used them who were diseased. Certain laws within the context of the Geneva convention say that the same people can come to Hungary without examination because they are migrants.

BS: Those who are granted asylum are examined.

Anna: But I suppose it’s a slow process because there are a lot of them.

BS: Yes.

Anna: The capital city is practically full of migrants.

BS: I don’t understand your position because there are two sides to this. On the one hand, you can lash out at the people responsible for these conditions, or you can hate the migrants themselves. I hope you are talking about the former, but I also understand if not because there are a lot of people in this country. . . . Actually, I cannot understand or accept this, or rather I find it easier to accept this than to understand it because I’m a tolerant sort of fellow . . .

Anna: But why?

BS: Who are you angry at? At them because they’re here? Or the conditions that they cause? Because I think it is very important to distinguish between the two, because the two are not the same thing. Are you upset over the condition their being here causes . . .

Anna: Both. I’m angry both at the conditions and the fact that they’re here.

BS: Because they cause the conditions.

Anna: Yes, because they cause the conditions. I’ll give you an example. If you say that you understand them because of your developed ego and once again we’re dealing on a humanistic . . .

BS: We need to discuss this. It is a serious subject and I’m happy to tell you what I think. So you’re angry at the refugees? You don’t like the refugees?

Anna: No, I don’t.

BS: Are you angry at them?

Anna: Yes, I’m angry at them. Because I think that in this country where we live with some difficulty, countries with much stronger economies are having a hard time dealing with the problem. Look at Great Britain or Germany where, in 2014, 11 million refugees registered themselves. They are pushing them back to eastern Europe after selecting out the more talented ones with higher qualifications, and 95 percent of them are coming back to Europe. . . . Let’s say someone with a scary face crawls through your window and sits down in your living room. And tells you or Viki [Sebestyén’s wife] to take care of him. You’ve got two small children, but now you’ve got three . . .

BS: I absolutely do not understand what you are talking about.

Anna: Taking them in. They’re here in your living room. You have to take care of them.

BS: Are you thinking of a case when someone breaks into my apartment?

Anna: You have to take care of them. There are three in your living room.

BS: You are really confusing matters. Are you saying you are afraid of them? Or are you saying that I as a citizen of Hungary have to take care of them?

Anna: You have to take care of them, you have to enroll their children in school . . .

Gyögy Nôgrádi: Isn’t that paid for with EU money?

Anna: EU money, EU money, EU money! You have to build schools, there is no economic benefit. That’s what a lot of people are saying. They are here, you have to educate them. It’s going to be a long time before they reach the point where they can have a job in Hungary.

BS: But don’t they want to move on?

Anna: But they can be returned to Hungary.

GyN: But they can be deported to Serbia.

Anna: Where they enter the EU is where they remain.

BS: I can respond very irately to those, including yourself, who try to incite against refugees with such a destructive attitude. I think that you are confusing things and that you don’t understand what this is fundamentally all about or how it came to pass.

Anna: I think I understand. How are we to support these underqualified people?

BS: One has to avoid them in the square. Listen Anna . . .

Anna: Both. Where will they work? What are they going to live from? I support them with my taxes. It is possible to return refugees to the point in the EU where they first entered. They make it to Germany, and they are returned to us.

BS: What do you say they are underqualified? How do you know who they are? How do you know there aren’t doctors among them?

Anna: They’ll end up in other countries.

BS: How do you know they aren’t engineers among them? Because there are doctors and engineers among them. We are not talking about underqualified people. What you’re saying? I think it’s terrible that you think this way.

Anna: But why is terrible? It’s not terrible in the least.

BS: Listen, we know where they are coming from. These people are fleeing civil wars.

Anna: From Syria, Afghanistan

BS: We know what’s happening in Syria. We know what the Islamic State is doing in Syria. We know what is happening in Afghanistan. We know whom to thank for this. These people travel many thousands of kilometers on foot. They were persecuted, beaten, raped. Children are coming without their parents. We don’t have to think about whether we like them or not. Our only task as human beings is trying to help these people in a non-judgmental manner. Because that is a normal European attitude.

Anna: Aha

BS: As for what each country does with this in their domestic politics, let’s not get mixed up in that, because this card has already been played in partisan politics. It was played in the past. They’re playing it now. Let’s try to completely separate the two things. I don’t want to get political and I’m not going to get political.

Anna: But this is politics. It cannot be avoided.

BS: But it is possible to separate the two from one another. Either you believe in what the government communicates on this subject or you don’t because there is sympathy in you, there is empathy in you, and you want to help.

Anna: But how can you help them? Muslim women do not accept water from men. They are trying to distribute water at Nyugati but the Muslim women won’t accept the water from men because their religion does not permit it.

BS: How are the numerous civil initiatives helping them? We’ve heard positive developments over the past day or two about facilities they are building in Budapest and what Budapest mayor István Tarlós said, I think this development is very good. Let’s try to treat these people as human beings by handing out food, or water, or civilians showing them how to travel across Hungary. Don’t forget that it is only because of misleading communication that you think 95 percent of these people want to remain here. These people want to move on. They enter the country. They don’t know which station they have to go to.

Anna: But where do they want to go?

BS: Sweden, Germany. It’s not true that these people want to settle here. These people don’t want anything other than to move on as quickly as possible. They sleep in the rain. They sleep out in the open. There are children who are playing with adults at the Nyugati station because both parents died. Responding to hatred with hatred is outrageous.

Anna: I’m not responding with hatred. These are facts.

BS: I understand that this is a common European problem and I also understand that we cannot solve this problem alone.

Anna: There are 65 million refugees in the world at this very point in time!

BS: You are mixing two things up. One is that this country cannot solve the problem.

Anna: No, I don’t.

BS: That certain countries are trying to solve this problem in the wrong way, that is a question of partisan politics. Let’s not talk politics. Let’s talk about our responsibility as human beings. And what is that? Regardless of what the government does or what it communicates, human dignity requires that we give them water and try to help. Not buy gas pistols, or beat a girl from Szeged because we think her boyfriend is a refugee. We also know that 99 percent of these refugees don’t bother anyone. The horror stories that are circulating are part of the disinformation.

Anna: I didn’t say that they harm people.

GyN: They don’t harm Hungarians. If there were any atrocities it was among themselves.

Anna: (Sarcastically) I didn’t realize that they were nothing but gentle persons, forgive me! We are talking about a huge group of deeply unqualified people.

BS: Is a deeply unqualified person less of a person than those of us who happen to be living in flats, living normal lives, and aren’t at war, and aren’t being raped, and they aren’t killing us?

GyN: There are also unqualified Hungarians.

Anna: Yes, but this is our country and they are here. You said, for example, in the case of the living room, they enter your home. Then you should also accept their customs. They use your bathtub as a toilet. Afterward you say we don’t use our bathtub as a toilet. Or you’re watching the Federer match and they switch the channel to . . .

BS: One, they don’t enter our homes. Two, they sleep on the ground. Three, they want to move on. I think you are really confusing matters. You mustn’t confuse them.

Anna: Who says they intend to move on in the hope of a better life? Yes, many will continue on to Germany. In Sweden, there is a huge amount of crime caused by immigrants, in whose vicinity there is 99 percent more crime.

BS: Anna, the fact is that this is a common European problem and that we need to respond to it collectively in an empathetic and human manner. Hungary alone cannot solve the problem regardless of how well or badly its government communicates the situation. It is the responsibility of politics to find a solution. As an ordinary person, you should think about what would happen if you were to find yourself in a similar situation. What if you had to sleep in train stations? What if nobody spoke your language? What if you had one child, and that child is standing alone in the train station because it has neither a mother nor a father?

Anna: I cannot debate moral questions with you.

BS: What about 1956?

Anna: That’s completely different.

BS: How so? In 1956 they took in 200,000 people fleeing Hungary. 4 million after the Balkans war . . .

Anna: But they left for political reasons. These migrants have left for economic reasons in the hope of a better life.

BS: Are you saying that in Syria where there is ISIS and in Afghanistan, the reason they are leaving is . . .

Anna: These are economic refugees.

BS: No, they aren’t. These people have nowhere to return to. 95 percent of the people arriving here are not economic migrants.

Anna: Then why aren’t those countries with stronger economies helping? For example, the United States, which caused this whole situation in the region? Why doesn’t it go there, put Syria in order? Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia take these people in? After all, they’re Muslims.

BS: You are right about us not being able to solve the problem. They are responsible for 64 million refugees.

Anna: But they’re here and we have to solve the situation.

BS: This is our task. You cannot answer violence with violence. We can answer with solidarity and humanism. If you go and press three bottles of mineral water into their hands . . .

Anna: I’m not going to press bottles of mineral water into their hands. I’m not going anywhere near Nyugati station.

BS: But that is not the good solution.

Anna: I’m sorry. That’s how I see it.

BS: Even just two days ago before civil society starting helping them, these people—2,000, 4,000, 6,000 of them—were wandering around the country. They don’t know where they are supposed to go. Nobody was helping them. From this point of view, this country again gets an “A.” You know why? Because whatever happens, the country has proven that humanity remains within us. It’s one thing what the politicians communicate in Austria, Germany, Great Britain. It’s another thing that there is solidarity in us. They give them water. They help them. They provide for them. They take food to them. Children are given toys. We mustn’t respond in any other way. The politicians or the EU will solve the problem, although it is very difficult . . .

Anna: How many are going to leave the country and how many are going to remain here that we have to take care of?

BS: That’s a political question. You cannot say that you hate them because we are talking about people who are in trouble.

Anna: I don’t hate them, I just dislike the conditions in the vicinities of the train stations. As somebody who lives in the city, I have the right to see things this way.

BS: We are talking about women! We are talking about children!

Anna: I understand what you’re saying.

BS: There are children in the Nyugati station. We cannot say to them “you have to leave.” It’s terrible that groups are forming to assault them. A person hears this and . . .

Anna: Well, that’s the other side.

BS: You cannot respond to this with hatred. I don’t understand you.

Anna: I am not responding with hatred. We are in living in city of two million. At this moment this is a huge problem in Europe. A terrible problem.

BS: Terrible! You’re right.

Anna: And the EU is not even prepared for this. And the EU has handled this badly. And we aren’t going to be able to solve the problem. What’s happening? What do you need to do?

BS: You need to say that I will do what I can as a human being.

GyN: But will such an attitude bring about a solution?

BS: It won’t solve the problem.

Anna: That’s the point!

(Everyone talking at once).

BS: But at least some families will be happier because they were able to bathe.

Anna: But these are moral questions. What is the solution? If they are here, they have to be educated, because they are uneducated. What do you do with them?

GyN: They don’t want to assimilate. They don’t even want to live here.

BS: We need to give a helping hand to them, at least on the level of giving them something to drink and to eat. That’s our responsibility.

Anna: But that’s happening in the country. They give them something to drink and eat.

BS: If you found yourself in such a situation together with your child, and you were sleeping somewhere in Germany in a train station in the rain, what would you expect? Tell me.

Anna: I’m sure I would also be glad if you helped me.

BS: Then what are you taking about?

Anna: Of course, I would be happy. But I’m not . . .

BS: You’re lying there in the rain with your child. There are three children next to you who are asking everyone “Where’s my mother? Where’s my father?” because they were shot in the war.

Anna: But why did they leave?

BS: Are you saying someone should come over and kick them? Or to get hold of a gas pistol? Or say to them “I’m not giving you anything, go away because you are dirty and smelly!”

Anna: Obviously, they are going to help them.

BS: What’s happening now, we can only collectively help as civil society as a way of assisting politics, which, thank God, is starting to work better. Do what do you expect? Tell me.

Anna: Obviously, everybody would expect that kind of assistance, but I say that even in that case what is happening here is shocking.

BS: The most important thing I want to you understand is that your goal is not to find a solution. Because you cannot solve the problem because you are not in a position to solve the problem. Our duty as people, as civilians, is to help. We need to communicate that we are not afraid of them, that we want to help them, and that we have to solve this problem together. We have no other task. Do you understand the point?

Anna: Of course, I understand. How wouldn’t I understand your point?

BS: I cannot answer any of the questions you raise that need to be solved. As a civilian you cannot respond with hate.

Anna: I am not responding with hate. I am reacting to what is happening around us where we live. What you are harping on are moral questions. In the long run, I want to hear solutions. Because a significant number of them will remain here. It will be necessary to build schools for them. They want to work. They want to be happy. But I am barely able to be happy here. I am not prejudiced. But first I would like to be happy because this is my home. I am at home here in this country. Perhaps you don’t like what I’m saying, but that is what I think.

BS: There is somebody waiting on the other line who would like to respond to what you’re saying. Zsuzsa, hello. Have you been listening to us?

Zsuzsanna Zsohár: Yes, in secret.

BS: You work for Migration Aid, a civil organization, don’t you?

ZsZs: This is an organization without an organization that operates without money.

BS: What do you do? And who have you been able to help?

ZsZs: We are in the railway stations, at Nyugati, Keleti, and Déli, in Debrecen, Cegléd.

BS: You are dealing with these people on a daily basis. You know them better than anyone else. Who are these people?

ZsZs: They are the same as the people you would meet in a small Hungarian city. Masons, doctors, teachers, mothers, grandmothers, although most of the people coming this way are under the age of 40. . . . They are coming from the east, from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan. They are mostly young people, families. They are refugees. I’m certain that the child whose torso is full of shrapnel is not leaving for economic reasons.

BS: So he came from a war zone?

ZsZs: Yes. A lot of the people have war wounds. . . . MigSzol is working in Szeged. We are working mostly in Budapest. We have a Facebook page where people can find out what the refugees need. They need food, underwear (new, not used), and socks. So if you decide you want to help, we are waiting for you at 32 Arany János Street after 3 pm.

Refugee claimants in Hungary and the EU: A statistical overview

According to figures released Thursday by Eurostat, as part of its quarterly report, Germany and Hungary received the most refugees of all member states in the European Union. The number of asylum seekers increased by 86% in the EU. Kosovars formed the single largest group of refugees arriving to EU member states, followed by Syrians and Afghanis. Forty percent of all refugees entered the EU through Germany (a total of 73,000 applicants in the first quarter), while Hungary received the second largest number of asylum seekers–32,800, or 18% of the total arriving in the European Union. Hungary was followed by Italy, France and Sweden. The number of asylum seekers entering Hungary increased by 1,300% over last year.

From a demographic perspective, 70% of all refugee claimants in Hungary were from Kosovo, while 12% came from Afghanistan, 7% from Syria, 2% from Iraq and 2% from Pakistan. Interestingly, from a regional perspective, neighboring countries like Slovakia and Romania are receiving really negligible numbers of refugees. Slovakia, for instance, only had a handful of claimants from Ukraine (and just 65 asylum seekers in total), while Romania had just 160 Syrian applicants (compared to 2,515 in Hungary), and a total of 355 people seeking asylum.

Overall, 46% of asylum seekers in the EU saw their applications accepted by the respective member states, with Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy issuing the largest number of positive decisions. Hungary issues very few positive decisions on applications, with Hungarian authorities accepting just 130 applicants in the first quarter. This means that just 10% of all processed refugee applications were accepted by Hungary. Compare this to a 44% acceptance rate in Germany, 73% in Sweden, 52% in Italy or 27% in France.

Asylum-seekers arriving at the borders of the European Union between March 2014 and March 2015. By the first quarter of 2015, Hungary became the country with the second largest number of refugee applications.

Meanwhile, the Serbian government has clearly been taken aback by the decision to fence off the Hungarian border, and are arguing that they too, like Hungary, simply serve as a transit country for migrants heading northwest. “We don’t know what this is all about. We are not guilty and all of a sudden a wall is to be built. We don’t want to live in an Auschwitz”, noted Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s prime minister. A total of 22,000 people have claimed asylum in Serbia between January and May, representing an increase of 600% compared to figures from the same period in 2014. Speaking to the Associated Press, Nikola Kovacevic of the Belgrade Center for Human Rights brought a perspective that the Orbán government would do well to consider, unless their fence is merely a political communications tool. “No wall has ever stopped migrations, they are unstoppable,” said Ms. Kovacevic.

Looking beyond Hungary and even the European Union, the UN’s most recent report on migration shows that 60 million people were displaced in 2014, due to conflict or persecution, representing an 8.3 million increase. While refugees from Kosovo form the bulk of asylum seekers and migrants in Hungary, worldwide the civil war in Syria is contributing most to this growing crisis. Hungary certainly isn’t offering a compassionate response.

June 18, 2015