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Abandon that hope!

Guest post by Karl Pfeifer

When I started to write about Hungary 39 years ago, I met many Budapest intellectuals and thought antisemitism and nationalism were not a big problem.

When 29 years ago a democratic system was established, I had to acknowledge my big mistake. The specters of the past were kicking and alive. I have published many articles at Harry’s Place about this.

In the lead-up to Sunday’s Hungarian election, Prime Minister and Fidesz party leader Viktor Orbán understood how to win a part of the electorate by whipping up antisemitism without ever mentioning the word “Jew.” George Soros, the “international speculator,” became Hungary’s Public Enemy Number 1. Soros is accused of having a plan to flood the country with migrants. Many Orbán supporters are victims of the prime minister’s policies. However as long as national flags are wagged in front of them, as long as Orbán is promising a good future, they vote for him.

Let me quote from the preliminary findings and conclusions of an OSCE ODIR commission:

The 8 April parliamentary elections were characterized by a pervasive overlap between state and ruling party resources, undermining contestants’ ability to compete on an equal basis. Voters had a wide range of political options but intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing constricted the space for genuine political debate, hindering voters’ ability to make a fully-informed choice.

Orbán whipped up the sentiments against Muslims with sweeping judgments about them. A friend of mine, a journalist, tried to convince a woman to vote for the opposition. She screamed at my friend, “If Orbán loses the election, women will have to wear a Chador.”

To those who comfort themselves in vain that hatred against Muslims will result in tolerance and love of Jews, who believe that Hungarian antisemitism is ephemeral and will speedily disappear, I can only say: Abandon that hope!