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Posts Tagged ‘Budapest’

Hungarian Lawmaker Burns Israeli Flag, Others Call for Jew Screening

Monday, December 17th, 2012

A few weeks ago there was a call in the Hungarian parliament for Jews to be screened to assess whether they are a national security risk.  This past weekend, a member of the Hungarian government burned an Israeli flag during an anti-Israel protest outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

That lawmaker, Lenhardt Balazs, is currently unaffiliated with any party, but he used to be member of the far-right Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary) party.  Jobbik opposes any relationship between the Hungarian government and the State of Israel.  The Jobbik party holds 47 seats in the Hungarian Parliament.

In October, members of the Jobbik  party torched an Israeli flag in front of a major synagogue in Budapest. That same month a leader of the Hungarian Jewish community was attacked, and in June, a Hungarian rabbi was accosted on a street in Budapest by a man who told him he “hates all Jews.”

Balazs, 37, left the Jobbik party in November, disgusted because it had become less radical over the two years he had been a member.   After his arrest and questioning following the Israeli flag burning and anti-Israel demonstration on Friday, Balazs was released.

The demonstration had been called to protest Israeli “atrocities” against the Arab Palestinians.  According to several reports, anti-Semitic slogans, such as “filthy Jews,” and “to Auschwitz with all of you!” were shouted during the demonstration.  Approximately 100 people attended the event.

Balazs posted several pictures of himself burning the Israeli flag on his Facebook page, where he wrote that “It is important to destroy the symbols of the enemy.”

Israeli Flag Burned in Front of Budapest Synagogue

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

An Israeli flag was burned in front of a Budapest synagogue on Tuesday by members of an ultrarightist Hungarian party as part of their celebrations of an anti-communist revolution taking part in the country in 1956.

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary Ilan Mor appeared on the opposition’s television program that same day, calling on Hungarians to reject this “unacceptable anti-Israel act”.

Hungary’s foreign ministry condemned the act on Wednesday in a statement, saying “the government of Hungary is committed to fighting all forms of anti-Semitism and racism, and stands firm, employing all means necessary, against the dangerous manifestations of extremism… “

Jewish Leader Assaulted on Street in Budapest

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Police in Budapest have arrested two young men after they allegedly assaulted the leader of a Jewish congregation.

The men, 20 and 21, are suspected of physically and verbally assaulting Andras Kerenyi, the 62-year-old president of the Jewish congregation of the Hungarian capital’s South Pest district, on Oct. 5, the website of the Hungarian police reported.

It said Kerenyi was attacked near Budapest’s Téglagyár square because of his religion and that his injuries did not require medical treatment. The two men are being held as indictments against them are being drawn up, the report said.

Gusztav Zoltai, executive director of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, told the Hungarian news agency MTI that Kerenyi was kicked in his stomach as the assailants shouted obscenities at him and told him he was going to die.

The police report said that after the attack Kerenyi followed the suspects and at the same time reported the incident to police. A police patrol arrested the men exactly 32 minutes after the attack at a nearby house. The report named the suspects as Mark F. and Tibor P.

In June, Jozsef Schweitzer, a retired Hungarian chief rabbi, was accosted on a Budapest street by a man who told him he “hates all Jews.”

Hungarian Lawyer Seeks Indictment against Nazi Hunter Efraim Zuroff

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

A Hungarian lawyer has urged authorities to charge Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff with making “false statements” against an alleged war criminal.

Attorney Futo Barnabas said Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel, should be indicted for leveling false allegations against Laszlo Csatary, whom police arrested last month. Zuroff gave testimonies to Budapest prosecutors that Csatary had organized deportations of Hungarian Jews from Kosice in 1941 and 1944.

Prosecutors dismissed the 1941 charges last week as “unsubstantiated” but are still investigating those pertaining to 1944.

Citing the dismissal, Barnabas told the conservative newspaper Magyar Nemzet that “there are valid grounds to charge Zuroff with deliberately making a false accusation.” The offense, which is meant to discourage libelous complaints, carries a five-year prison sentence, according to Barnabas.

Contacted by JTA, Barnabas said in German that he would only agree to be interviewed in Hungarian.

A spokeswoman for the Budapest prosecutor’s office, Bettina Bagoly, is quoted as telling the Hungarian paper that she was not aware of any pending investigation against Zuroff.

In 1944, Csatary was a police officer in Kassa, now Kosice in Slovakia. He is accused of organizing transports of at least 15,000 Jews to the Ukraine.

Csatary fled to Canada in 1949 after a Czechoslovakian court sentenced him in absentia to death for war crimes. He returned to Budapest 15 years ago, after Ottawa annulled his Canadian citizenship.

Based on Zuroff’s research, The Sun newspaper of London reported on Csatary’s whereabouts in July. Budapest’s chief prosecutor said on July 17 that the research “contains no new evidence.” Csatary was nonetheless placed under house arrest the next day.

Last year, a Budapest court acquitted Zuroff of libel charges. Sandor Kepiro, then a suspected war criminal, sued Zuroff for voicing the suspicions. Kepiro was acquitted last year.

Agnes Keleti: The Foundation Stone Of Gymnastics In Israel

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

“I felt here that I was at home,” remarks Agnes Keleti about her arrival in Israel in 1957. An Israeli emissary had invited this leading Hungarian Jewish female athlete to participate in the fifth Maccabiah Games that year, and that’s when she discovered that Israel was “home.” Soon after arriving she decided to settle in the Jewish state and become an integral part of its life. Riding the high wave of athletic success – Agnes Keleti, the most successful Jewish female athlete in Olympic history with ten Olympic medals – decided to put aside fame and fortune and contribute her talent to her people.

She became a coach of the Israeli national gymnastics team and a physical education teacher at Tel Aviv University and at the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sport, imparting her enormous knowledge and experience to admiring young gymnasts. She also purchased sporting and gymnastic equipment that had never been used before in Israel.

Born on January 9, 1921 in Budapest, Hungary, Aggie Klein began her gymnastics training when she was four at Budapest’s Jewish club and by the age of sixteen had won the first of her ten national titles. With the German invasion of Hungary in 1944 the talented teen’s training came to an abrupt halt. To survive World War II she bought the papers of a Christian girl and worked as a maid for a pro-Nazi family in a small Hungarian village.

During the battle for Budapest in the winter of 1944–1945, she did morning rounds to collect the bodies of those who had died the previous day and place them in a mass grave. Her mother and sister went into hiding and were saved by the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Her father, however, was sent to Auschwitz where, together with the rest of the Klein/Keleti family he was killed.

At the end of the war Agnes Keleti returned to her gymnastics career. Between 1947 and 1955 she was the dominant force on the national scene and was equally impressive in international competitions where she represented Hungary twenty-four times between 1947 and 1956.

At the World University Games of 1949 Agnes Keleti won a silver, a bronze and four gold medals! Three years later, at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games thirty-one year old Agnes won four medals — a gold, a silver and two bronze medals.

If her performance was remarkable in 1952, it was overshadowed by an even more formidable display of talent, determination and ability in the 1954 World Championship. She finished first on the uneven bars and the hand apparatus team, second in the combined team and third on the balance beam. This performance was still not the high point of her career, which came at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956: the thirty-five-year-old Agnes Keleti scored an astounding triumph, winning four gold and two silver medals.

The following year, Agnes came to Israel and a new chapter began in her life. Here she met and married Robert Biro, a fellow Hungarian physical education teacher, and, although by now in her forties, became a happy mother of two sons: Daniel, born in 1963, a university lecturer in finance, and Rafael, born a year later, a fashion designer. Mrs. Keleti Biro’s family joy was shared by her mother and sister who have also settled in Israel.

Recently, Agnes Keleti, dubbed “the most successful female athlete,”
celebrated her 91st birthday at her home in Herzliah where a former student described her as “the foundation stone of gymnastics in Israel.”

The Train

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

He was having trouble getting up from the platform and into the cattle car. After all, he was only twelve years old and there was no ramp leading inside. An SS thug saw him “dawdling” in front of the car and aimed a boot at the boy’s posterior. The boy jumped out of the way just in time and the SS man fell to his face from the violence of his own kick.

Fearing the German would take his fury out on him, the boy scampered into the train. He hid himself from the Nazi inside a crowded, filthy car until the train pulled out of Budapest’s Nyugati station.

And thus began David Kohn’s participation in what many regard as the most dramatic and controversial train journey in history. For this was the train organized by Dr. Rudolf Kastner, head of the Hungarian Judenrat, on which 1,685 Jews rode to safety.

Kohn, today a well-known medical doctor and expert on geriatric health problems in Haifa, Israel, is one of the diminishing number of survivors from the Kastner train. And he may be the only one who kept and preserved a journal of that journey to freedom.

He was born in a small town in Czechoslovakia, in a region where many of the residents and most of the local Jews spoke Hungarian. After the destruction and division of Czechoslovakia in the wake of the Munich accord, the area passed to Hungarian rule.

The problem was that David’s father had been a patriot and had taken Czechoslovak citizenship, which was frowned upon by Hungarian authorities. The boy was quickly expelled from school there, supposedly because of the father’s citizenship but more likely because they were Jews.

The family moved into Hungary proper, looking for work and a place to live. Then Slovakia was detached from the Czech state by Germany, so for a while they moved back there. The father worked as a forestry manager, a public service job that kept the family safe as deportations of Slovakian Jews commenced.

In 1942 rumors reached them that they were on a list of Jews to be deported. The family stole across the border into Hungary. There they were hosted by relatives who managed to obtain forged residency papers for them.

By 1943 Hungarian Jews were being moved into “concentration” areas – not yet internment camps but rather buildings in which the Jews of a town would be segregated. David was staying with his uncle, a prominent Neolog rabbi, in Czegled, a town outside Budapest near what is today the city’s international airport. They were locked up in a single building, and later moved into the town’s synagogue. Then twenty-three of those in the building were selected to be sent to Budapest for internment. The rest were deported.

David and his uncle were among the twenty-three.

In Budapest they were marched down Andrassy Boulevard, the city’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue with its luxury stores, many owned by Jews at the time. They were taunted by Hungarian anti-Semitic youths along the way and eventually were held inside the Rumbach Street synagogue in the Jewish Quarter.

* * * * *

Rudolf Kastner was a pompous, arrogant and irritating person. He was born and raised in the largest city in Transylvania, the Hungarian-speaking territory now in Romania that has passed back and forth between Hungary and Romania due to the frivolities of war and politics. He rose to importance in the Hungarian Jewish community and had the reputation of being an aristocratic “fixer” with ties to the regime.

When war broke out, Hungary allied itself with Hitler’s Germany. Kastner served as a journalist and community leader, moving from Transylvania to Budapest. Later, as a head of the Hungarian Judenrat, he was able to move about freely throughout the war. His residence and offices stood on Vaci Avenue, three blocks from my office today at Central European University in Budapest, where I teach when I am not in Israel.

Kastner was renowned for hatching assorted schemes, some rather hair-brained, during the war years. He tried to recruit support from Jewish Agency leaders in Tel Aviv for negotiating different rescue schemes with the Nazis, including the notorious “Trucks for Jews” deal, which never came to fruition. In 1944 he met several times with Adolf Eichmann to negotiate the escape of Jews in exchange for bribes or ransom payments.

Budapest Police Question Rabbi for Outing Goy Shul President

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

A whistle-blowing Budapest rabbi was questioned by police for what has been described as misuse of sensitive private information stemming from a personal conflict within the Jewish community.

Rabbi Zoltan Radnoti this week was finger-printed, photographed, and interrogated at a local police station. The investigation stems from a case last year, in which Radnoti revealed that a high-level official in the Jewish community was not Jewish according to Jewish law, as his mother was Christian.

At the time, the man in question, identified publicly as E.O., was the president of a Budapest synagogue and a senior adviser to the leadership of Mazsihisz, the main Jewish umbrella organization.

As a result of Radnoti’s revelations, E.O. lost his position.

On Tuesday, Mazsihisz and Hungary’s chief rabbi issued statements pledging to support Radnoti, saying that the case was an internal Jewish affair and should not be dealt with by the police or civil court.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/budapest-police-question-rabbi-for-outing-goy-shul-president/2012/06/27/

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