Hungary pledges $3.4 million to fight anti-Semitism in Europe

(JTA) – Hungary’s government earmarked $3.4 million for combating anti-Semitism in Europe.

Half of the money will become available for government-led initiatives in the 2019 national budget, followed by a second allocation in the following one, according to a statement Wednesday by the Association of United Hungarian Jewish Congregation, or EMIH, which is working with the government on these projects.

The new funds, which may become a permanent article in Hungary’s annual budget, are part of a government resolution adopted this week by the Chair of the Prime Minister’s Office, Minister Gergely Gulyás, the statement said.

In addition to the establishment of at least one hotline for reporting anti-Semitic incidents, the funding will go to initiatives in the fields of justice and education.

Leading the implementation of projects will be the Action and Protection Foundation, or TEV, of Hungarian Jewry – a watchdog group set up in 2012.

“Hungary is contributing in a fairly significant way to the battle against anti-Semitism, and I express my appreciation to the government for this,” said Rabbi Shlomo Koves, leader of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH group and a founder of TEV.

The populist rhetoric and policies of Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban have exposed his government to criticism that it is stoking racism – including against Jews.

Orban’s government had an open row with the country’s federation of Jewish communities, Mazsihisz, over a statue unveiled in Budapest in 2014. Devoted to the Nazi occupation, it shows an angel being attacked by an eagle. Mazsihisz said it whitewashes Hungarian complicity in the Holocaust.

Orban has consistently rejected this interpretation and has repeatedly vowed to take an active stance against anti-Semitism.

In Hungary, where some 100,000 Jews live, TEV has recorded only 37 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, of which 24 were hate speech cases. TEV recorded no physical attacks on Jews in 2017.

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