Recently there has been a fair amount of media coverage of the rise of anti-Semitism, or anti-Judaism, in Hungary. The European Union has strongly cautioned Hungarian leaders to address what is an openly anti-Semitic, right-wing party, and large rallies which express hatred toward Jews. Many of the participants are young, as the photos above and below show.
We might think of Germany and Poland as nations where the atrocities of the Second World War were perpetrated, but Hungary also sent much of its Jewish population to the concentration camps and death.
I saw an interview with two elderly Hungarian women who survived one of the camps as very young girls. In one case virtually all of the woman's family was wiped out. On her arm, almost lost in the folds of aging skin was the tattoo of her camp number. Both women expressed fear, no so much for themselves but for children and grandchildren as anti-Semitism is becoming more aggressive. Some Jews in Hungary wonder if they will be forced to leave the country for their safety.
Seeing these two women crying as they recalled the past and pondered an uncertain future touched me deeply. It put a human face on a situation which is far removed from us, although anti-Jewish sentiment is persistent around the world, including Canada. From time to time there is desecration of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues in this country.
Despite the way we have been characterized in the past year, the United Church has always supported the Jewish community in ways that many other Christian organizations have not. We need to continue to do so and to stay aware of the ugliness of hatred based on religious identity.
Have you heard about this situation in Hungary? What are your thoughts?