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“Holocaust education is a mandatory part of Hungary’s national curriculum,” State Secretary Zoltán Kovács said in an article published in the US Tablet, written in response to the online magazine’s suggesting that the Hungarian government had “dumped” Nobel Laureate Imre Kertész from the national curriculum and replaced him by “musty” authors who were “convinced anti-Semites.”

“It is clear why the Orbán government wants to promote the likes of Wass and Nyirő: their nationalism and irrendentism are in keeping with the government’s current xenophobic rhetoric and self-pity about ‘Hungarians across the border’,” Susan Rubin Suleiman wrote. She added that “Orbán knows full well that Transylvania and other pre-1919 territories have little chance of being returned to Hungary, but they make good talking points for those who are obsessed with advertising their dedication to the causes of ethnic and cultural ‘purity’.”

Párbeszéd Calls for Scrapping ‘Far-right’ National Curriculum

“It’s quite a stretch to claim that the Orbán government is somehow trying to obscure the work of Imre Kertész. In honor of Kertész, this government has funded an institute charged with the mission of ‘nurturing his legacy, collecting and processing his unpublished works’ and more,” Kovács wrote in his response.

“As to why certain, so-called musty authors have been included in the new curriculum, it’s important to understand that they wrote about events and a time that brought earth-shattering change to Hungary—changes that people across the political spectrum regard as a national tragedy—a period that for most of the rest of the 20th century, we were forbidden from talking about, let alone studying in school,” the state secretary argues adding that it “is not irrendentism. It’s about understanding our national heritage.”

“I am obliged to remind those who take an interest in Hungary of how much the governments of Prime Minister Orbán have done to counter anti-Semitism and to support Hungary’s Jewish community; anti-Semitism and the Hungarian government are just fundamentally incongruent. Since 2010, Hungary has become one of Israel’s staunchest international supporters and the government has introduced a zero-tolerance policy on anti-Semitism. ” he added.

Referring to the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents in Western European countries, Kovács said that Hungary saw just the opposite and insisted that Hungary was the safest country for Europe’s Jews.

Featured photo illustration by Balázs Mohai/MTI