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Chief Rabbi Tamás Róna, president of the Hungarian Jewish Prayer Association (Magyar Zsidó Imaegylet, Zsima), told Index in an interview that Judaism is flourishing in Hungary, while in Western Europe, Jews are facing various anti-Semitic attacks. The Chief Rabbi also pointed out that Christian-Jewish dialogue is growing stronger.
According to Tamás Róna, it is mainly the Western press that accuses the Hungarian government and the Prime Minister himself of antisemitism. He believes that the problem lies in the fact that often noisy, superficial, and petty voices reach the international press, and that in the absence of the right knowledge, damaging articles can be produced.
I have been asked several times by foreigners whether there is systemic antisemitism in Hungary. My answer was clearly no,”
the Chief Rabbi emphasized, adding that he feels much safer as a Jew in Hungary than in other parts of the world.
He also pointed out that according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the most serious antisemitic incidents of 2022 are partly linked to the United Nations (UN). As Róna sees it, the UN has shown an attitude that delegitimizes the Jewish state but legitimizes Palestinian terrorism, which he himself considers dangerous. He believes that the UN and the European Union only see Israel fighting, but they do not see the reasons behind it.
On Hungarian-Israeli relations, the Chief Rabbi said that he sees Hungary moving ever closer to Israel, one reason being that the policies of the re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are very similar to those of the Hungarian government. Another aspect is that the region is an excellent geopolitical partner, and many Holocaust survivors emigrated from Hungary to Israel – many of whom have since returned and feel at home in both countries.
Róna emphasized that
his outlook for the Jews in Hungary is positive, with Christian-Jewish dialogue growing stronger and the government of the day providing them with a lot of cultural and social support, especially in the last 10 years or so, i.e. since Fidesz came to power.
The Chief Rabbi stressed that as a Jew in Hungary he has nothing to fear, unlike in France, for example, where antisemitic incidents are happening on a daily basis.
The Hungarian Chief Rabbi recently made headlines when he wrote an open letter to publicist David Nirenberg, regarding an article of him in The Wall Street Journal in which Nirenberg called the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán one of the “opponents of Jewish power.” Róna pointed out in his letter that it is the article that has just been published, and writings like it, that are inciting antisemitism, adding that mentioning systemic antisemitism about Hungary is a factual error and shows ignorance.
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