While antisemitic thoughts, words and deeds are currently far from being in short supply, if one was to pick a winner in the race for most virulently antisemitic European country, Hungary would most definitely be a contender if not come in first place.
It is estimated that there were between 800,000 and 900,000 Hungarian Jews prior to the Holocaust and that only 200,000-250,000 survived. Today, there are only a little over 100,000 Jews in Hungary (mostly in Budapest) and the vast majority of them would never disclose their Jewishness in public.
The World Jewish Congress just had their 2013 plenary session in Budapest last May, during which Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivered a speech reassuring worldwide Jews that they were welcome in Hungary. But Orban’s words seemed pretty empty when he stopped short of exposing Hungary’s extreme-right xenophobic party known as Jobbik. Hungary has seen a rise in antisemitism lately that has been at least partially fueled by the Jobbik party’s diatribes against the Jews. The Jobbik party is only a decade old but already holds over 12% of the seats in Hungary’s parliament and claims to be the “Movement for a Better Hungary” while being openly antisemitic and anti-gypsy. It makes you wonder if by “better Hungary” they mean what Hitler meant by “better Germany”? Incidentally, it was founded by a group of Catholic and Protestant Hungarians and has the word “Christian” in their description. It is doubtful that they mean what I mean by that word. The party also called for a “Jewish List” to be compiled in 2012. Last time my people were put on a list, it didn’t end well for them. I even found the name of my grandfather Maurice Weinzveig on one of these very thoroughly compiled lists showing him on a one-way train ride to Auschwitz. So it is easy to understand why Jobbik is bad news for Jews and for Hungary.
in 2003, in the early stage of Jobbik, a young man by the name of Csanad Szegedi joined the party and immediately showed great potential to be its leader in the future. In 2007 he founded the “Hungarian Guard”, a group very reminiscent of Nazi era militias (banned in 2009). He has been very active within Jobbik and was its vice-president for 6 years. Antisemitism has been a common thread in the fabric of the party and Mr. Szegedi was an unabashed contributor.
THEN THE UNTHINKABLE TOOK PLACE WHEN CSANAD SZEGEDI FOUND OUT HE WAS JEWISH.
Overnight, after having spoken with his maternal grandmother who survived Auschwitz, he became everything he hated and was faced with an overwhelming crisis of conscience. He first tried to bribe the person who had led him to ask his grandmother about his new found identity. His hope was to hide the truth from the public, but eventually, Csanad Szegedi could no longer deny his origins and left Jobbik (although he remains in politics as an independent). He paid a visit to his local Rabbi (Schlomo Koves), apologized for his diatribes against the Jews and even visited Israel with his wife. Szegedi is discovering what it means to be Jewish, and he also has vowed to soon make a visit to Auschwitz to honor his family’s memory. This sobering interview by Dale Hurd of CBN is a testimony to what appears to be a changed man (Crisis of Conscience).
Csanad Szegedi’s journey is a perfect example of the fragility of the structure known as antisemitism. The foundation of antisemitism was laid by Satan himself, immediately after He realized how much God loved the Jewish people and how special they were to Him and to His plan for human history. That foundation still exists and will continue to do so as long as Satan is allowed to roam this earth. So it is important to understand that at the base of antisemitism is spiritual warfare. Yet we can all do our part in preventing the enemy from using people to build upon that foundation. If we don’t do our part, Satan will add layers to the foundation and make it ever so difficult to eradicate the structure. As I see it, each layer builds upon the previous one, unless we prevent it. To human nature, ignorance is added, ten deceit, and finally hatred.
All of us are victims of the Fall. Our HUMAN NATURE is flawed by a plethora of spiritual impurities known as “sins”. We cannot change any of that on our own. As a result of the Fall, we have lost our privilege in God’s eyes and are now spiritually corrupt and punishable by death (the very reason why Yeshua died to pay the fine for us). The sin nature in us makes us very judgmental and often makes us believe that we are better than others when we are not, as the prophet Jeremiah reminds us:“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Knowing full well that his days are numbered and that eventually one day in the future all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26) according to God’s decree and love for the chosen people, Satan regularly pours his wrath on Israel and the Jews and he does it best by using people, and of course, it helps if they are clueless.
Closely linked to the human nature is HATRED, because let’s face it, it is a lot easier to hate than to love. Hatred is in our nature when love requires work. Hatred is often part of our normal defense mechanism when we feel threatened and singled-out. Remembering that all these layers only stand because they are attached to the foundation of spiritual warfare is helpful in understanding how human beings can be so full of hate for one another. Once the lies have been bought and repeated about Israel, they eventually become the truth and it is a normal next step to hate the Jews.
So how are we to respond if we want to combat antisemitism? Should we move on and let others deal with it? What can one person do, really?
In the words of rabbi and philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel: In a free society some are guilty but all are responsible. So looking at the four layers applied to the foundation of spiritual warfare:
To human nature we must respond with compassion
To ignorance we must respond with education
To deceit we must respond with the truth
To hatred we must respond with love
In looking at the dramatic turn of events in the life of Csanad Szegedi, it is easy to see that antisemitism really has no foundation outside of the crafty evil plan of Satan for the destruction of God’s chosen people. Mr Szegedi was ignorant, deceived and filled with hatred, but by God’s mercy is now turning into somebody different. Time will only tell how much of a change will take place in this man and how much of a change he will bring to the table to fight antisemitism, but in the meantime, he is proving to all of us that antisemitism is as lethal as it is ludicrous.
Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.
Abraham Joshua Heschel