November 29, 2006

Large scale desecration of Jewish community buildings in southern Hungary

A synagogue, Jewish educational center and Holocaust memorial were simultaneously vandalized, in a large-scale attack on the small Jewish community of the small Hungarian city of Vác. The Jewish community has linked this attack to on-going anti-governmental protests in the country that have been attended by some members of the Hungarian far-right.

Unknown offenders painted black paint over the fence of the synagogue and educational center over the nightof November 6th, also spraying anti-Semitic graffiti, swastikas and other fascist symbols. Almost at the same time, they apparently broke in to the nearby kindergarten and confiscated a marble memorial tablet that was installed by the city in remembrance of those who suffered during the Holocaust.

Among the graffiti discovered on the buildings was“Heil Hilter” and “Viva Palesztina.”This was the first time such an attack occurred.The Jewish Community in Vác announced that the desecration was related to the recent political upheaval in the country, where anti-governmentprotests have seen the usage of World War-Two fascist imagery linked to the Nazi-aligned Hungarian Arrow Cross party.Some of the recent protests have been led by football hooligans and far-right groups - Nazi symbols and chants were observed among the demonstrators, and widely reported in the international press. Some demonstrators erected a “wall of shame” in Budapest, displaying a list of those thought to be responsible for the current Hungarian government crisis.

The list stressed Jewish personalities.

This is the first such attack against the Jewish community in Vác. The Jewish Community of Vác has called for the authorities to apprehend and charge those who committed this crime, and let know their desire to live in peace. In a statement the community writes that symbols of Hungary’s anti-Semitic and fascist past are returning in 21st century Hungary, saying “We are asking for a guarantee to let us live in peace without fear and dread treading on our constitutional rights. We demand that those that attack our schuls, cemeteries and memorials are punished.”