Anti-Semitism alive and well in Europe, Hungarian minister says

Hungarian Minister for Family Affaits Katalin Novák. (Facebook)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

The fight against anti-Semitism must not be abandoned, as the condition is still present in many places across Europe, said Katalin Novák, Hungarian Minister without Portfolio for Families, at the International Forum against Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust Memorial Conference in Malmö.

The event was attended by the heads of state or government of about fifty countries and several international organizations (European Union, Council of Europe, OSCE, IHRA). All participants were asked to commit to anti-Semitism, to which Hungary made the following recommendation: it is doing its best to prevent the anti-Israeli BDS movement and block EU funds that are reaching it. (The BDS movement is an abbreviation for “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”.)

Novák also outlined for the participants of the conference the steps taken by the Hungarian government in recent years for the Hungarian Jewish people and communities. As she said, the Hungarian government is doing a lot to preserve the memory of the Holocaust: Holocaust education is part of the national curriculum, and the curriculum is developed jointly with Jewish organizations.

Hungary also celebrates Holocaust Remembrance Day and supports the Jewish community in several other ways. He mentioned as an example the renovation of the Rumbach Sebestyén Street Synagogue in Budapest, which also contributes to the health and safety of the Jewish community.

The Hungarian government has taken action against anti-Semitism in a number of other decisions in recent years. In 2011, he amended the Penal Code to declare zero tolerance for anti-Semitism. And, in addition to incorporating Holocaust education into the national curriculum, Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed in high schools, and a memorial center was established with significant government support.

For Hungarian Jewish communities, the institutional system of education is provided through crèches, kindergartens, schools, and high schools all the way to higher education.

The government declared 2014 its Holocaust Remembrance Year, which was the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Hungarian Jewry. Between March 2015 and February 2016, Hungary held the rotating presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and adopted the guidelines for the organization’s definition of anti-Semitism.

The Hungarian government works closely with the Jewish denominations recognized in Hungary, and since 2015 it has provided about 8.5 billion forints (€23.6 million) for the reconstruction of synagogues and other Jewish community spaces.

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