Letter of the President

One of the goals of the ICCJ, as listed in our Mission Statement, is countering “all forms of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination, racism and the misuse of religion for national and political domination…” For many years, this goal was implemented largely in fighting against antisemitism. In fact, the first point of our Berlin Document—“A Time for Re-commitment”—calls upon Christians “to combat religious, racial and all other forms of antisemitism.”

As a deeply committed Jew, I sometimes am a bit wary of what I perceive as an over-emphasis on combating antisemitism on the agenda of, for example, some Jewish organizations. But the phenomena of antisemitism and even neo-Nazism are still very much with us. We must be vigilant, but not overly anxious. As part of our vigilance, I wish to call the attention of our members to what seems to be developing in Hungary. The over-all population of that country is over nine million, of whom about one per cent are Jews. For the past several years—and, more so, for the past several months—there has been a worrisome rise in the incidence of antisemitism. Much of this seems to be related to the rise of an extreme party called Jobbik, now the third largest in the Hungarian parliament. "Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Hungary, as anti-Semitic language has become legitimate in public parlance because of the “Jobbik effect,” a survey by Central European University sociologist András Kovács shows.[1]

Looking up Jobbik on Wikipedia, I see that: In a newsletter published by a group calling itself The trade union of Hungarian police officers prepared for action, the following was allegedly printed: "Given our current situation, anti-Semitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews." The editor of the union, Judit Szima, is a Jobbik candidate in the upcoming election for the European Union parliament. Haaretz alleged Szima "didn't see anything wrong with the content of the article."

We at the ICCJ are in contact with our members in Hungary. I would very much like to thank our friend and colleague Markus Himmelbauer, the director of our organization in Austria, who has been keeping close tabs on the situation and sending us information. The main purpose of my letter to you today is just to make sure that we all monitor the developments in Hungary and prepare for possible future action, if necessary.

At the same time as we are vigilant about rising antisemitism, we must also note the alarming rise, here in Israel, of anti-Christian and anti-Muslim vandalism and violence, among some extremist Jewish groups. The ICCJ has already responded to a graffiti attack on the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem and will continue to monitor events here.

Psalm 34:14 teaches us to “seek peace and pursue it.”

 Some Jews may feel an understandable urge for revenge. But we would all do well to reflect upon the suggestion of the 17th century Welsh poet George Herbert that "Living well is the best revenge."[2]

[1]www.xpatloop.com/news/69086, accessed Feb. 13, 2012.

[2]http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/26999.html, accessed September 9, 2008.