January 21, 2013
Dear friends and members of the ICCJ,
Last November, I had the honor (unfortunately, I can’t say the pleasure) of heading a small delegation of the ICCJ to Budapest. The reason for this visit was the troublesome news on xenophobic and antisemitic incidents that have reached us lately. We wanted to meet with our Hungarian member organizations as well as leaders of both the Jewish and Christian communities and try to learn first-hand about the situation in Hungary.
I must say I was shocked and dismayed to witness xenophobia and antisemitism alive and well in Hungary. Although, thank God, the physical well-being of Jews is not under threat (unlike the situation of the Roma community), it is quite clear that the situation is deteriorating as antisemitic discourse is gaining more and more legitimacy and acceptance within the present Hungarian society and the Hungarian politics in particular. Unlike some new forms of western antisemitism, which is predominantly antizionist and anti-Israel, there is nothing new about the current Hungarian antisemitism; it is regrettably the bad old antisemitism which cynically exploits economic and political crisis, putting the blame on “the Jews” who allegedly control the media and the economy.
After consulting with the ICCJ Executive Board we decided to send an urgent letter to Mr. Viktor Orbán Prime Minister of Hungary, expressing our concern with the situation and requesting him to do everything possible to reduce antisemitism in Hungarian society in general and in politics in particular. Our letter to PM Orbán can be found on www.iccj.org .
In addition, we decided to invite you, as members of the ICCJ, to write your letters of concern
- to your respective governments,
- to the Hungarian embassy in your country and
- to the press.
We, therefore, send this letter to you, requesting that you also share this information with your members and with the institutions, churches and synagogues you are connected with, urging them to send their own letters of concern to the government in your country, the Hungarian embassy and the press.
Please send us a copy of your letter so that we can share it with the Federation of Jewish communities in Hungary and with our Hungarian member organizations, the “Magyarországi Keresztyének és Zsidók Tanácsa” and the “Keresztény Zsidó Társaság”, who rely on us and are looking for our solidarity and support in this time of stress.
It is time for us speak up!
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
The International Council of Christians and Jews
Rabbi Ehud Bandel
ICCJ 1st Vice President