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Feb 26, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Hungarophobia vs. real anti-Semitism

Public display of anti-Semitic stereotypes at a Belgian carnival or Hungary’s literature curriculum: Guess which one the Chairman of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism chose to comment on…

Just like last year, this year’s Aalst Carnival in Belgium sparked heavy criticism from Jewish organizations around the world. And it did so for a good reason: The event featured figures and costumes on public display that included a fair amount of vitriolic, anti-Semitic stereotypes. This, despite the Israeli foreign minister’s explicit request to bar anti-Semitic elements from participating.

The world became enraged as condemnatory statements began flowing in from organizations in Belgium, the European Union, the U.S. and, of course, Israel. While most of them called upon local authorities to prohibit “anti-Semitic cartoons” at the carnival, there was one Jewish advocate whose group remained oddly silent.

That “advocate” was Svante Weyler, Chairman of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism. Unlike most organizations engaged in fighting anti-Semitism, Weyler decided to say nothing about the Aalst Carnival scandal and comment on another topic instead: the new Hungarian literature curriculum. His opinion appeared in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheterunder the title Hungary is now clearing the most important authors from its literary canon," referring mainly to Hungary’s 2002 Nobel Laureate author Imre Kertész.

For what it’s worth, Weyler’s points bear a striking resemblance to Susan R. Suleiman’s opinion recently published in Tablet. As I wrote in a letter of reply to Suleiman: No, Hungary did not “dump” Imre Kertész from its literature curriculum; in fact, he is still very much part of it. As to the Hungarian government’s alleged engagement in any form of anti-Semitic selection of books to be read by high school students: It’s about time that even our critics understood that anti-Semitism and the Hungarian government are just fundamentally incongruent.

In spite of all this, Weyler, the chairman of an organization with a clear mandate to fight anti-Semitism, deems it more important to comment on Hungary’s high school curriculum than the mass, public display of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the “exemplary democracy” that is Belgium. Sweet.

Sadly, it’s becoming clear that our friends in Sweden couldn’t care less about valid concerns of anti-Semitism, rule of law or democracy, as they continue pushing their vitriolic, Hungarophobic narrative.

Photo credit: Göteborgsposten