Several leaders of the Hungarian Jewish community and academics discussed the situation of Jews in Hungary at a conference organized by the Danube Institute on February 28, 2023.
The debate was organized on the occasion of the publication of a two-volume book, Anti-Semitism in Hungary: Appearance and Reality, edited by Danube Institute researchers, which describes the life of Hungarian Jewry through in-depth interviews with leaders of several Jewish NGOs and religious communities, according to the conservative think tank’s statement.
The event was opened by Yacov Hadas-Handelsman, Israel’s ambassador in Budapest, who pointed out that according to a survey,
Hungary and Italy are the safest places for Jews in Europe.
He also warned that modern-day anti-Semitism often manifests itself as anti-Israelism.
István Kiss, Executive Director of the Danube Institute, said that anti-Semitism must be constantly combated, but the lessons of the book show that despite negative Western trends, the situation in Hungary has clearly improved over the last decade.
Jeffrey Kaplan, Danube Institute’s American visiting fellow who edited the book, said that
the Western mainstream media often paints a distorted picture of Hungary, which is clearly contradicted by field research and interviews.
András Kovács, a professor at CEU, says that anti-Semitism is not only manifested in anti-Israel sentiment and violence, and that all forms of anti-Semitism must be combated. Rabbi Báruch Oberlander, the founder and leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement in Hungary, described how the Hasidic community helps to preserve Hungarian culture and traditions in Jewish communities abroad.
Speakers also included Yehuda Hartman, Professor at Bar Ilan University, Menachem Karen-Kratz, independent Israeli professor, György Szabó, President of the Hungarian Jewish Heritage Public Foundation (MAZSÖK), Mordechai Inbari, Professor at the University of North Carolina, Ádám Schönberger, President of the MAROM Club Association, and Tibor Pécsi, historian and educational expert at the March of the Living (Élet Menete) foundation.
In addition to the issue of anti-Semitism, the speakers also discussed the demographic situation and historical experiences of Hungarian Jewry, the memory of the Holocaust, and the characteristics of Jewish cultural life. The speakers discussed the current challenges facing Jewry and presented their views on how to preserve Jewish identity, culture, and traditions in the 21st century.
Featured photo via Facebook/Dohány utcai Zsinagóga