What in God’s name is happening in the world? Part II

by Alan Simons

There’s a well-known Yiddish expression. Di velt iz sheyn nor di mentshn makhn zi mies. The world is beautiful but people make it ugly.  This is Part II in a series that sees no end in site. Antisemitism, Holocaust denial, Islamophobia, hate towards the Roma, Nigerian children being kidnapped by perverted terrorist sick-os that go by their adopted name of the “Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad,”  Geert Wilders, the darling of many American Jews, until he announced his intention of joining the far-right bloc in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections. He’s now somewhat changed his mind! And then there’s Ukraine, South Sudan and the garbage being spewed from the lips of numerous Fatah officials. Hamas, who on TV have pleasure in enticing their children to kill the Jews and finally Canada, of all places, where many Jews wonder who is actually looking after their interests.  Need I say more?

The world is not only in kerfuffle it is ready to self-implode.  If you have any doubts just take a few minutes to read the following items recently published in various media. Their links are attached:

CANADA

A 6 Year old in Hiding in a Church, in Canada.  The Psuma family are Roma/Jewish. They were chased out of their home in Hungary after being set upon by neo-Nazi thugs. They have been threatened with death if they return. Yet Canada, compassionate understanding Canada under the present government want to do just that, deny their refugee claim for safety and return them to the clutches of racist hooligans.

FRANCE

Jewish mother, baby assaulted in Paris.  A woman assaulted a Jewish mother and her baby in Paris while shouting antisemitic slurs.  In Tuesday’s incident, the assailant shook the stroller belonging to a 27-year-old mother while her 6-month-old baby was inside, according to the Drancy-based National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA. The mother described the attacker as being in her 50s with a European complexion and features, BNVCA said. The mother said the attacker shouted, “Dirty Jewess, enough with your children already, you Jews have too many children, screw you.” Identified by BNVCA by her initials, A.M., the mother said the assailant continued to hurl insults at her in front of onlookers at the Faubourg Monmartre bus stop in the 9th arrondissement, a district in central Paris. BNVCA founder Sammy Ghozlan said the mother has filed a complaint with police and can identify her attacker… He added, “The anti-Semitism which persists despite all the measures taken is causing great distress to many Jewish citizens, who are contemplating their future in our country.”

RUSSIA

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights group, on Monday demanded an apology from the directors of state-owned Russia Today Television for airing anti-Semitic programming that contravened Russia’s membership obligations under the 2004 Berlin Declaration on Anti-Semitism of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Known as RT, the outlet has long come under criticism for serving as a Kremlin mouthpiece and for vicious attacks on Israel. “In the very week that the Russian Federation criminalized the denial of the Holocaust and the State of Israel celebrated its 66th Independence Day, your channel apparently decided to trash both Jewish Holocaust victims and Jewish sovereignty…

HUNGARY

Hungary’s far-right party set to come second in EU vote…  Both the European Commission and the European Parliament have taken Budapest to task over questions of rule of law and media freedom. While Fidesz will undoubtedly win the EU elections, far-right party Jobbik is also set to do very well in the 25 May vote. “The surprise would be if they didn’t come in second,” says Csaba Toth of the Republikon Institute. He notes that Jobbik is continuing its push for the political centre, a strategy that already paid off at the polls in April. “Its strategic goal is to become an alternating party to Fidesz,” he adds.

THE NETHERLANDS

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders is riding high ahead of this month’s European Parliament The best of Geert Wilderselections, hoping to destroy from within what he calls the ‘monster of Brussels’.  Despite an unprecedented backlash after he called for “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands, his Party for Freedom (PVV) looks set to make gains in the May 22 vote, including extra clout and cash by joining a pan-European populist alliance.  The platinum-haired Wilders in November announced “the start of the liberation of Europe” from the European Union after forming a partnership with French far-right party National Front (FN).  Like the FN’s leader Marine Le Pen, Wilders wants to take his country out of the EU and to abandon the euro. “Wilders is hunting for power in Europe. He wants to be part of a broader movement and wants more influence in the European Parliament,” says Adriaan Schout, senior researcher at the Clingendael Institute for International Relations. The latest Ipsos opinion poll on May 1 ranked Wilders’ PVV third in the Netherlands, just below the ruling coalition partner People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the pro-Europe D66.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech Cabinet will not pay for demolition of pig farm in Lety.  Over 1,300 Romanies were interned in Lety during the German Nazi occupation, 327 of whom perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz where most of them died.  A memorial to the Romany Holocaust was set up at the former burial ground of the Lety concentration camp for Romanies. However, it is situated near a pig farm that is at the site now. Romanies and human rights activists have protested against it for years. Relatives of the Romany Holocaust victims along with the U.N. Human Rights Committee have demanded that the pig farm be abolished.

GREECE

Greece’s top court allows far-right party to contest EU vote.  Greece’s Supreme Court on Sunday allowed the far-right Golden Dawn party to run in European elections this month, despite calls to ban it as its leader waits in jail to be tried for membership of a criminal organization. The court routinely permits parties to take part in elections but a private citizen had asked it to exclude Golden Dawn this time because its leadership is under investigation over a string of attacks against immigrants and opponents…  The party is running between third and fifth in opinion polls, and a strong showing would pose a challenge to the fragile coalition government.

CANADA

Canadians more likely to be antisemitic than Americans, poll finds.  A new global poll reveals Canadians are more likely to be antisemitic than Americans.  The survey by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found 14% of Canadians harbour anti-Jewish attitudes, compared with only 9% of Americans…  Although many Canadians want to dismiss anti-Semitism as being a problem of the past, the survey makes it clear it persists. If anything, the modern form of anti-Semitism may be even more dangerous than it was in the past. In Canada, anti-Jewish bullying and abuse take place on campuses, in classrooms and workplaces…

USA

Twitter Is Platform of Choice for Antisemites as Hate Rises on Social Media.  Twitter is the “weapon of choice” for bigots and racists, according to a new report on digital hate and intolerance released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The center surveyed hateful content on over 30,000 websites and found that online hatred rose more than 30% over the past year. The report also graded top social media platforms on their commitment to removing hateful posts and on whether the prevalence of these posts on their sites is increasing or decreasing. “If the world is going to effectively deal with the growing threat from lone wolf terrorists, the leading social media companies, including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter must do more,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, assistant dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. But Cooper reserved special criticism for Twitter, which received a D grade in the report. He said Twitter has shown little inclination to work with his center or to seriously address hateful speech and even terrorist activity. “There are terrorist groups that use Twitter to communicate,” he said. “Twitter hasn’t shown us they have an institutional grasp or commitment of the issue, and that needs to change.”

SOUTH SUDAN

South Sudan violence leaves trail of bodies, starving children and destruction. Bodies stuffed in wells. Houses burned down. Children playing on military hardware. And infants showing the skeletal outlines of severe hunger. These are the scenes from a remote part of South Sudan – Leer – where Doctors Without Borders has just begun feeding severely malnourished children about three months after the aid group’s hospital was destroyed in violence that has been ripping apart the country since December. One child brought to the clinic by a mother hoping for life-saving aid instead died the next day. That and other scenes of desperation were recently filmed by an Associated Press journalist.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Monday that he visited South Sudan this month in order to “sound the alarm about the violence and the risk of catastrophic famine.” Ban warned that if the fighting continues, half of South Sudan’s 12 million people will be displaced, starving or dead by year’s end.

FRANCE

JIN France attack on a Jewish man May 17 2014

Click on this image

French Jewish leader: ‘It’s not so pleasant living there as Jews.’ France’s flag has three stripes, and its motto promotes three values: liberty, equality and fraternity. Now, its Jewish community – Europe’s largest — faces three threats, according to Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organizations and a vice president of the World Jewish Congress. In an appearance at New York’s French consulate, Cukierman laid out the trio of challenges: an increasingly radicalized Muslim immigrant population that scapegoats Jews, the growing popularity of the far-right National Front party headed by Marine Le Pen, and widespread anti-Israel sentiment among French leftists. “It’s not so pleasant living there as Jews in this period,” Cukierman said, adding that at a recent anti-government demonstration, “a crowd of 17,000 people was yelling, ‘Jews, France does not belong to you.’” (An audience member disputed his characterization later during a Q&A session, arguing that only about 500 demonstrators joined in the anti-Jewish chants.) Forty percent of violent hate crimes in France target Jews, Cukierman said.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Israel’s creation is “greatest crime known to humanity,” writes official PA daily op-ed.  To coincide with Israel’s Independence Day, the official Palestinian Authority daily published an op-ed describing Israel’s creation – “the occupation of Palestine” – as “the greatest crime known to humanity.” Other terms of demonization used to refer to Israel’s creation were “a monstrosity was born” and “an despicable mission.” Jewish fighting forces in the War of Independence were referred to as “the Zionist gangs.”… Children in the PA are likewise taught in official education to reject Israel’s right to exist. A PA schoolbook uses some of the same terms that appeared in the op-ed when teaching 12th graders about the establishment of Israel. 

 (Text credit: Canada, Psuma family- Bernie Farber. Photo credit: Greece- universityobserver; South Sudan- sam-bronx photo; France- alliancefr)

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HUNGARY. The Monster is at the Door.

“Today, if you live in Hungary and you are Roma, Jewish or a member of the LGBT community, you have a problem.”

SPECIAL REPORT

By Ronald Eissens.

A 1937 letter from Berlin I read a couple of years ago said: “The streets are clean, people have jobs. The café’s, restaurants and terraces are filled every day. The women are lovelier than ever. Yet, there is this strange undercurrent. All this marching and uniforms, it makes me uneasy. One hears things about beatings and about people being taken away, disappearing. Jews and others. We try not to talk about it, not to think about it. Yet it feels like a beast is awakening, ready to destroy.”

These lines came to mind while I was sitting on a terrace drinking coffee on a square just off Vaci Utca, the famous Budapest shopping street. Last week I was in Budapest as part of a group at the European Youth Centre that trained young people to counter online hate.

Photo credit: The Contrarion Hungarian

In Budapest the streets are clean and beautiful, everybody laughs and smiles, while the Hungarian Guard, a paramilitary outfit modelled on the SS, marches in the street and people are beaten up. Today, if you live in Hungary and you are Roma, Jewish or a member of the LGBT community, you have a problem. 

During recent years, waves of anti-Roma violence, antisemitic attacks, bumper-stickers with the text ‘Jew free car,’ homophobic attacks on the annual Gay pride parade, antisemitic defacement of synagogues and Jewish graves, all became ‘normal.’

In 2010, during a recent speech by the mayor of Budapest, right-wingers shouted slogans such as ‘send Jews to the concentration camps‘ and  ‘Jewish pigs!’

“Vilified for claiming Holocaust restitution”

In Hungary, antisemitism and hate against gypsies were always present, but they were swept under the carpet by communist governments. The new constitution however, does not protect the rights of Gays and Lesbians.  Roma live in fear and the Jewish community tries to endure the new pogrom-like atmosphere. Before World War II, there were half a million Jews living in Hungary. Now there are only 100,000 and they are under growing attack and vilified for claiming Holocaust restitution.

Márton Gyöngyösi, Hungarian parliament member for Jobbik (Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom), a Hungarian radical nationalist political party, has said: “It has become a fantastic business to jiggle around with the numbers of dead Jews.” Last month, another Jobbik MP, Zsolt Baráth, held a speech in parliament reviving an anti-Jewish blood libel from 1882.

During a briefing I attended by Hungarian NGOs and other experts, it became clear that the current situation is dire. Peter Molnar, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Media and Communication Studies at Central European University in Budapest, and a former Member of Parliament remarked, “Right now, if I have to make a hierarchy of the minorities under attack in Hungary, I would say first the Roma, then the Jews and then the LGBT community.”

In 2010, during the last Hungarian election, Jobbik became the 3rd party of the country, winning 17% of the vote. The coalition government that was formed after the election, does not have Jobbik in it – but the largest party, the nationalist conservative Fidesz relies on Jobbik support and openly tries to please and appease it. Jobbik itself denies being fascist or racist, but its leader, Gabor Vorna, says that Jobbik is not democrat.

In a smart back-stage, front-stage strategy Vorna has created the Hungarian Guard, who march the streets in Nazi uniforms and have been said to be responsible for most of the hate crime and attacks against Roma, Jews and LGBTs. On top of that, unaffiliated skinheads and neo-Nazis create even more trouble. During 2008 and 2009, a number of Molotov cocktail and gun attacks against the Roma community resulted in the death of six Roma. The killers were neo-Nazis.

“Jobbik loves extreme Islamists and especially Iran”

So, does Jobbik like anybody? Well, ‘normal’ Hungarians of course, who are, in a familiar sounding mythology, the descendants of a great and pure Central-Asian ‘Turkic’ race, which also includes the Persians. It may therefore come as no surprise that Jobbik loves extreme Islamists and especially Iran, feeling very comfortable with shared antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

This is not 1937, but it seems there are too many similarities including  a bad economic situation, high unemployment, the Euro-crisis, inflation of the Forint, the national currency as well as anti-democratic strong leaders about to take over.

Photo credit: Budapest Daily Photo

As the saying goes, ‘history repeats itself the second time as a farce.’ Well, for a start, there is very little farcical about repeating pogroms.

Hungary is not Germany in 1937 and Hungary is not the only European country suffering under an increase of populism, neo-Nazism and extremism. But, Hungary could well be a new flashpoint.

While I was having my coffee, I read on my Blackberry that the Budapest monument for Raoul Wallenberg had been desecrated. Hanging from the statue were pig legs covered in blood.

All of a sudden, the coffee didn’t taste so good.

In 2010, former Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai, in an unwitting allusion to the 1937 letter from Berlin said, the “monster is at the door, threatening to crush Hungarian democracy.”

I don’t like coincidences like that at all.

Ronald Eissens is General Director and CoFounder of the Dutch NGO Magenta Foundation, which focuses on international human rights and anti-racism. Along with Suzette Bronkhorst, he founded in the Netherlands the world’s first complaint bureau for combating hatred on the internet. He is also a Co-Founder of INACH, (International Network Against CyberHate).

Editor’s note:

Militant wing of Hungarian ultra-right party Jobbik

This past month, the Central-European Religious Freedom Institute reported:

“”Leaders of the Hungarian Catholic, Reformed and Lutheran churches have protested against antisemitic remarks made by a radical nationalist MP in an address to parliament.

 “It is our duty to protest against incitement of hatred,” the three church dignitaries said in a joint statement to be published in the May issue of Szombat, the monthly of the Federation to Maintain Jewish Culture in Hungary.

The document, sent to MTI on Wednesday, was signed by Cardinal Peter Erdo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Gusztav Bolcskei, President of the General Synod of the Reformed Church, and Bishop Peter Gancs, President of the Lutheran Church.

In early April Zsolt Barath, a lawmaker of the radical nationalist Jobbik party, spoke in parliament in honour of a young girl and quoted allegations from the time of her death in 1882 that she had been killed by Jews in Tiszaeszlar, a village in NE Hungary. Barath said the judiciary at the time had sought to conceal this and the judge, “under outside pressure” had acquitted the accused. The Tiszaeszlar blood libel is a recurring synonym for antisemitism.

The government said Barath’s remarks were completely unacceptable and that it resolutely condemned all manifestations directed openly or obliquely against a social group or a minority in Hungary.

The opposition LMP and Socialist parties called on the lawmaker to resign.

The Central Prosecutor’s Office started an investigation triggered by an appeal by Slomo Koves, head of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation.””

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