The International Council of Christians and Jews, founded in 1947, serves as the umbrella organization for over thirty member organizations world wide. During recent years the Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue has been of growing importance to ICCJ though the bi-lateral dialogue between Christians and Jews remains the main focus of our work.
In Hungary the ICCJ works with two member organizations: the “Magyarországi Keresztyének és Zsidók Tanácsa”, the Hungarian Council of Christians and Jews, and the “Keresztény Zsidó Társaság”, the Christian-Jewish Society. During a short visit to Budapest in November 2012, an ICCJ delegation met Jewish and Christian representatives of both member organizations, as well as board members of Jewish communities and institutions. The main reason for our visit was the increasing number of reports of antisemitism in Hungary that have been reaching us. We know that Mr. Gyöngyösi is not a Fidesz member. But the incident regarding a “Jewish list” took place the day before the ICCJ delegation arrived in Budapest— and this had a significant impact on our visit.
We want to stress our concern for understanding the specific history of the Hungarian people, having suffered under Nazi rule and Communist occupation. It might, however, be possible that the fact that the Communist regime immediately followed the Nazi period, in a way hampered the process of dealing with the horrors of Nazi occupation in general and the Shoah in particular. When a society is ready and willing to deal with even its darkest hours, then antisemitism and xenophobia can be combatted effectively and these evils can be rooted out.
We therefore, Your Excellency, would draw your kind attention to the following:
1. We urgently request that you and your government do everything possible to reduce antisemitism in society in general and in politics in particular. This can be done only by drawing clear lines between the democratic parties in Hungary and those forces in the Hungarian Parliament which have already demonstrated open antisemitism.
2. We would like to request you to give sensible guidance to the search for a renewed, common Hungarian identity. In our opinion, this would mean that the great history of the Hungarians be done justice in a way that every citizen of your country, of whatever religious background or social group they may be, could recognize him/herself in and participate in a common narrative.
3. We urgently request you, being the Prime Minister of this great country, to demonstrate these attitudes and opinions continuously and publicly in order to make your intentions clear to every Hungarian citizen.
4. And last but not least we urgently ask you to strongly support those dialogue activities aimed at integration of the different groups in the Hungarian population by making available to them sufficient government funds to do their work adequately. In particular, we recommend both Hungarian ICCJ member organizations, the “Magyarországi Keresztyének és Zsidók Tanácsa” and the “Keresztény Zsidó Társaság” to your benevolent attention.
The International Council of Christians and Jews of course is ready to give additional information if requested and we will be glad if necessary to initiate contacts between your Government and our friends and colleagues.
Dr. Deborah Weissman, ICCJ President
Revd. Dick Pruiksma, ICCJ General Secretary
In a few days more information will follow on how to support ICCJ.