ANTI-SEMITISM IN HUNGARY – NO IMPROVING TENDENCY

sajt1The rate of groups both completely immune and highly responsive to anti-Semitism displays a rising tendency compared to data from a year before: reveals the survey commissioned by the Action and Protection Foundation (TEV) and carried out by Median Institute for Public Opinion and Market Research. The data collected at the end of last year (for the second time after 2013) show a strengthening position of Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary, a far-right party) and the lasting effect of the monument on Szabadság Square. Signs of polarization are apparent even despite radical changes in anti-Semitic attitudes in the past year.

The representative research commissioned by TEV, conducted on a sample of 1200 respondents shows a minor increase in the proportion of people with anti-Semitic views in Hungary in the past one year. The rate of those who think Jews are “disagreeable” was 23% in the present research against 21% a year ago. Typically, public opinion is only moderately interested in problems of Jewish public life, while people with anti-Semitic views are highly overrepresented (69%) among Jobbik voters. This emotional anti-Semitism of the society is in fact, to a significant degree, the manifestation of general xenophobia: the respondents rejecting other ethnicities to a higher degree were more likely to dislike Jews.

The opinion of the Hungarian population is strongly divided about the question of who is responsible for the Second World War tragedy of the Jewry: 51% marked Hungary also at this question, while 40% hold Germany exclusively responsible. 52% of the respondents were against building the monument on Szabadság Square, while 34% were supportive of it. A more alarming tendency is that the support of openly Holocaust-denying statements raised from 6-8% in 2006 to 12-15% in 2014.

Dániel Bodnár, President of the Board of Trustees of TEV, exposed: “It is the mission of sajt2TEV to survey the state of anti-Semitic prejudices in Hungary year after year. Our purpose is to get a clear picture of this phenomenon through fully objective research, and not think about it based on subjective impressions. The present research offers this clear picture: there is minor improvement and deteriorating tendency, both at the same time. While the number of people immune to anti-Semitic statements increased, the proportion of those who agree with such statements also raised. However, if we look at data from last year, we can say that, on a whole, the Hungarian society has not become more tolerant.”

Although similar researches were also conducted by FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights) and Hungarian NGOs, they were relevant especially to present a given social attitude at a given time. The research commissioned by TEV goes beyond it in that, thanks to repeated data collection, it is also appropriate for presenting tendencies.

sajt3We saw an increase in the spreading of anti-Semitism in Hungary between 2006 and 2010, followed by a minor decrease between 2011 and 2014. This, in my view, is also due to the fact that the Jobbik has been a Parliamentary party for the past 5 years, so many people might think they ‘have nothing more to do with this problem’, for a party that has often made anti-Semitic statements is now representing their views. One remarkable result of the research is that it shows the extent to which the relation between the Jewish community and the government influenced public opinion. In 2014, mostly because of the Memorial Year of the Holocaust, several events have had their effect on the issue, unfortunately more to the negative side: despite the historical memory of the Holocaust being continuously part of public discourse, the number of Holocaust deniers and Holocaust relativizers is steadily rising.” In the opinion of TEV’s leader, the way we speak about the Holocaust, the way this subject appears in the public discourse is counter-productive and triggers negative effects, despite all the efforts of Jewish organizations. “For this reason precisely, it is time Jewish communities changed their discourse about this issue.” – Dániel Bodnár opined.

To read the research in Hungarian click here. Avaliable in English from 27 April.