Several leaders of the Hungarian Jewish community and academics discussed the situation of Hungarian Jewry at a conference organized by the Danube Institute on February 28, 2023. The occasion for the event was the publication of the two-volume English-language book „Anti-Semitism in Hungary: Appearance and Reality,” edited by Danube Institute researchers. The books present the life of Hungarian Jews through in-depth interviews with the leaders of numerous Jewish NGOs and religious communities, the Danube Institute said in a statement.
The event was opened by Yacov Hadas-Handelsman, Israel’s Ambassador in Budapest, who pointed out:
According to a survey, Hungary and Italy are the safest places for Jews in Europe.
He also warned that modern-day antisemitism often manifests itself as anti-Israelism.
István Kiss, Executive Director of the Danube Institute, said that antisemitism 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.
According to the editor of the book, Jeffrey Kaplan, an American visiting scholar at the Danube Institute, 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 antisemitism is not only manifested in anti-Israel sentiments and violence, therefore all forms of antisemitism must be combatted.
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.
The speakers also included Jehuda Hartman, professor at Bar Ilan University; Menachem Karen-Kratz, independent Israeli professor; György Szabó, president of MAZSÖK; Mordechai Inbari, Professor at the University of North Carolina, Ádám Schönberger, president of the MAROM Club Association, and Tibor Pécsi, historian and pedagogical expert at the Élet Menete Alapítvány.
In addition to the issue of antisemitism, 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.