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Erez Hagar - Juden in Ungarn

Antisemitismus in Ungarn

Jüdische Gemeinden - Ein Überblick - Ungarn

Schoah - Holocaust

"I have never shared the opinion that anti-Semitism is created by Jews. Anti-Semitism is created by anti-Semites and not by Jews. At the same time I have to say that it is also not the Jews but the non-Jews who must fight against anti-Semitism. Our task is to line up the non-Jews."

This was said by Stephen Roth at B’nai B’rith’s 1992 conference, held in Budapest, on combating anti-Semitism in a democratic society. We are trying to take Stephen Roth’s advice. Founded in New York in 1843, B’nai B’rith became over the years the world’s largest Jewish organization. (B’nai Brith means “Sons of the Cove-nant,” with the term “covenant” referring to the alliance between God and the Jewish people, a key concept in Jewish tradition.) The organization’s funda-mental principle – the creation of unity among Jews – was declared upon its foundation and is still valid today. B’nai B’rith places special emphasis on the historical identity and common fate of the Jewish people.

Action against racism and especially anti-Semitism is closely connected to the organization’s universal objectives.

B’nai B’rith’s Hungarian member organization – the B’nai B’rith Budapest Lodge – was established in 1990. It is registered as an association.

The Executive Board of the B’nai B’rith Budapest Lodge,
• sensing that anti-Semitic voices have become ever louder since the political transition;
• sharing the rightful indignation and concern of its members as well as of other Jewish organizations and personalities;
• complying with the widespread demand to take public action against this unsettling phenomenon;
• mindful of the heavy burden carried by the previous generation;
• realizing the risks inherent in remaining silent, decided to hold up a mirror to all those who are affected by or interested in the phenomenon in order to make it more visible. Therefore, in late 1999 the Budapest Lodge of B’nai Brith established the Jewish Documentation Center (ZsiDoK) in Budapest. The Center is doing pioneering work in Hungary. Its objective is to monitor and document Hungarian Jewish life including:
• the public activities and publications of Jewish organizations;
• scholarly research related to Jews and Jewish life;
• public statements concerning Jews;
• racist and especially anti-Semitic acts and statements in the public sphere and in the activities of organizations on the extreme right.

The creation and continued operation of the Jewish Documentation Center (ZsiDoK) have been made possible by support primarily from the members of the B’nai B’rith Budapest Lodge. The initiative and its implementation were welcomed by a relatively large portion of Hungarian society. The European organization of B’nai B’rith was instrumental in helping us through the initial phase of our work and the Washington headquarters of B’nai B’rith also encour-aged us to pursue our goals and provided valuable support.

The Jewish Documentation Center submitted a grant application and received financial support from the Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ) and the Hungarian Jewish Heritage Public Foundation. MAZSIHISZ also provides funding for current operations. Through its media monitoring service, run in cooperation with other organi-zations, the Center keeps track of relevant articles appearing in the Hungarian press. It ensures that these publications are electronically processed and kept on file. The Center’s procedure is to gather, store and classify data pertaining to Hungarian Jewry, to make such data accessible to researchers, and to cooperate with already existing Hungarian programs as well as international organizations. At present the Center is only collecting contemporary data, but it would like to extend its scope and include materials dating back to the political transition and eventually as far back as 1945. One of the plans to be realized in the near future is to ensure Internet access to researchers working on our surveys. The reviewing of the Hungarian printed press in the year 2000 resulted in the collection of hundreds of documents – articles, essays, etc. In addition to factual information pertaining to Hungarian Jewry, the material includes a fair amount of unquestionably anti-Semitic pieces, as well as writings that are regarded as anti-Semitic by certain segments of the public and works that trig-gered discussions on anti-Semitism. Thus, the database of ZsiDoK is not simply a collection of anti-Semitic articles, but rather a documentation of public dis-course pertaining to anti-Semitism. The documentation of radio and television programs is problematic at present, although such materials should clearly be collected and processed as well. The Center is counting on the contributions of concerned organizations, institutions, researchers and other private individuals, as cooperation and mutual exchange of data may facilitate the creation of a significant database providing reliable sources for research. Naturally the Center, since its incep- tion, has provided serious researchers and all interested parties access to its database. Relying on this developing database, the B’nai B’rith Budapest Lodge wish-es to publish reports regularly that would hold a kind of mirror to events taking place in Hungary. This book is our first attempt to give a picture of anti-Semitic acts and utterances occurring in Hungary in the year 2000. As indicated by the title, the volume compiled by the editorial committee is primarily aimed at doc-umenting the facts themselves as well as trends in anti-Semitic discourse. So at the same time it is both more and less than a comprehensive report on last year’s anti-Semitic manifestations in Hungary. It has been a subject of heated debate whether our publication should be a brief and factual situation report or a volume of essays based on the collected data. This time we chose the latter approach, which still leaves the question unanswered. Our dilemma could be more easily resolved if readers of this book would share their reactions with us. There were other discussions on whether to publish a separate volume in English or to issue a bilingual edition. Due in part to economic considerations, we opted for a bilingual publication: the first part of the book is in Hungarian, the second in English. The English version is somewhat shorter; some of the papers appear in an abridged form so as not to overtax foreign readers whose knowledge of the current Hungarian situation may be limited. Whenever an original paper has been abridged in translation, this is indicated at the beginning of the article. We would like to thank Dr. Tibor Szeszlér, former president of the B’nai B’rith Budapest Lodge, for conceiving the idea of the Center and bringing it to fruition; historian László Varga for the professional and intellectual guidance he provided in behalf of the editorial committee, as well as the members of the edi-torial committee – historian András Gerô, journalist Mátyás Vince, economic historian Vera Pécsi and research fellow Gábor Schweitzer – for their selfless and invaluable work. The Executive Board would like to take this opportunity to express its appre-ciation to the entire ZSiDoK staff.

Special thanks to Ferenc Olti and István Kardos for acquiring and setting up the computer system used in the project and for providing high quality software support.

The Executive Board of the B’nai B’rith Budapest Lodge
Budapest, June 2001 06-04-2003

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