Bold Cynicism

The Orbán Regime’s Attempt to Redefine Antisemitism

16 May 2019

The future prospects of European Jews have not looked this uncertain in decades. The clichés of the recent past regarding a continent earnestly confronting the history of the Holocaust and becoming immune to anti-Jewish hatred and violence had to be painfully discarded. An alarming rise in physical attacks combined with practically constant insults online has again turned antisemitism into a widely debated subject across Europe.

The future prospects of European Jews have not looked this uncertain in decades. The clichés of the recent past regarding a continent earnestly confronting the history of the Holocaust and becoming immune to anti-Jewish hatred and violence had to be painfully discarded. An alarming rise in physical attacks combined with practically constant insults online has again turned antisemitism into a widely debated subject across Europe.

In such a context, it is worth exploring what has changed in recent years in the relationship of the Hungarian regime to the country’s diverse Jewish communities and in terms of the local political uses of antisemitism. By focusing on innovative and controversial trends in these regards under the rule of Premier Viktor Orbán, my aim is to reflect on seismic shifts underway in Europe’s rightist political culture.

The case of Hungary may be said to have wider implications since the country has not only become proudly illiberal and decreasingly democratic since 2010 but has also emerged as an ever closer ally of the State of Israel within the EU.

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Ferenc Laczó

Ph.D. Assistant Professor in European History at Maastricht University.

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