Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Horror of Anti-Semitism

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?



roger said...

I had no idea about Hungary's past, nor about their present situation.

I always find it very disturbing to hear about these nazi types who spout hatred towards jews. I like to think there aren't many of them out there, but sadly there are millions worldwide.

I find myself feeling very discouraged and even angry about what people can do to others. Whether it was 70 years ago, when millions of jews were killed, or today, where we seem to be hearing about yet another mass shooting....I think I'm ready to be beamed to my own little island. I'll take a few loved ones and live with the monkeys and the coconuts!

IanD said...

In this day and age of universal education and access to information, the fact that this mentality exists anywhere is totally confounding.

Judy said...

I find it incredibly sad, disturbing - and pathetically pitiful- that we humans, as a species, still find it necessary to belittle and hate another group, different from ourselves, to make ourselves feel more important... I was not aware that Hungary was a country where anti-Semitism was starting up again - but I heard that Vision TV was showing a program last weekend on Jew-bashing and its rise in the world again.