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Hungarian Jews Demonstrate Against Anti-Semitism

More than 1,000 Hungarian Jews demonstrated in Budapest last week to protest anti-Semitic incidents ahead of national elections set for April 11.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 4/11/2010, 1:33 PM / Last Update: 4/11/2010, 1:40 PM

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Hungarian Jews marched through the Old Ghetto in Budapest last week to protest the anti-Semitic climate that has permeated the country in advance of this week's national elections, set for April 11.

More than 1,000 Jews defied a recommendation by police to lay low, and instead demonstrated near the Great Dohany Street Synagogue. The men made a point of wearing yarmulkes, to identify themselves as Jews. Police provided security for the march, which was carried out peacefully.

It was organized in response to a series of incidents that have occurred over the past few weeks, including vandalism at a Holocaust memorial in Zalaegerszeg, a neo-Nazi rally in Tiszaeszlar, and anti-Semitic graffiti in Budapest.

The police warning came after a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi's home was attacked by anti-Semitic vandals who smashed windows during a Passover seder. Police came after the home of Rabbi Shmuel Raskin was stoned during the ritual holiday meal, shortly after 11:00 p.m. The second attack occurred after the police had gone, and no suspects were arrested.

The far-right Jobbik party is expected to win a significant percentage of the vote in this week's polls, according to an analysis by the World Jewish Congress. Jobbik's campaign blames most of the country's problems on Roma (Gypsies) and Jews, said the WJC, which added the party also founded the now-banned paramilitary Hungarian Guard in 2007.