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Record Turnout

Participants of March of the Living walk in Budapest Photo: Reuters
Participants of March of the Living walk in Budapest Photo: Reuters
 
 

Biggest March of Living held in Budapest

Record 10,000 Hungarians take part in annual march to commemorate victims of Holocaust amid rising anti-Semitism in country in recent months

jn1.tv
Published: 04.23.13, 07:21 / Israel Jewish Scene

VIDEO – A record 10,000 Hungarians took part in an annual march to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust on Sunday, amid rising racism and anti-Semitism in the country in recent months. It was more than double the annual turnout.

 

The ambassadors of Israel and the United States reportedly took part in the event.

 

Video courtesy of jn1.tv

 

Hungarian Jews have complained of increased verbal attacks in the past year and observers have accused the center-right government of stoking anti-Semitism in the face of a weak economy, but many urban Hungarians claim worries of a rightward shift in the country are overblown.

 

Last year, Hungary’s government unveiled a bronzed bust of World War II leader Miklos Horthy, who was an ally of Adolf Hitler and whom historians consider responsible for ordering the death of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

 

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Patriotism and respect for Hungary’s past are becoming increasingly popular in the Central European country, and some Hungarians see Horthy as a leader who preserved Hungary’s identity against both the Nazis and the Soviets. The unveiling of the Horthy bust attracted more than 1,000 supporters.

 

Horthy's first public statue was unveiled in May in the western village of Kereki, but stood for just a few hours before it was smeared with red paint by lawyer and liberal activist Peter Daniel.

 

"There are many reasons why I smeared Horthy's statue with paint," he explains, "mainly because I believe that with the erection of this statue they have gravely injured and humiliated the memory of the Jewish martyrs sent to their deaths by Horthy, and the state apparatus, the railroads and the security forces serving him."


Fighting Hungarian anti-Semitism (Photo: Reuters)

 

Hungary’s third-largest party is Jobbik. Its leader, Gabor Vona, pushes a platform based on patriotism and preventing foreigners from contaminating Hungarian values. Last month, a Hungarian state honors list for cultural personalities included a prominent TV presenter and a musician both known for their anti-Semitic and racist views.

 

Some Hungarians contest claims the country is sliding to the right. Besides the annual March for Life, Hungarians have come together in demonstrations wearing Stars of David, to respond to anti-Semitic charges made by Jobbik politicians.

 

The World Jewish Congress has said it will hold its annual assembly in Budapest next month to show solidarity with Hungary’s Jews, who it says are facing “exceptionally strong and aggressive anti-Semitic voices."

 

 

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