Zsolt Semjen – Photo: MTI

Semjen: Hungary among safest countries in Europe for Jews

Hungary is one of the safest countries in Europe -- possibly even the safest -- for Jews, deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen said on Monday.

Semjen told a conference of the European Jewish Association (EJA) in Budapest that Hungary maintained zero tolerance against anti-Semitism, regardless of whether they are connected to the extreme right, extreme left, Jihadists or anti-Israeli sentiments.

Relations between Jewish congregations and the Hungarian state are “perfectly organised”, with all Jewish institutions, kindergarten, schools, hospitals and social institutions receiving state financing, Semjen said.

The government has signed comprehensive agreements with Jewish congregations under the arrangements of which former properties seized by the state in the Communist era have been returned or, if the church did not want them returned, compensation has been paid, he added.

Semjen said that in Hungary anti-Israeli sentiments are viewed as a form of anti-Semitism, adding that the government represented this position both in Hungary and in European Union forums, where Israel can count on Hungary. “Hungary vetoes any measures that unfairly attack Israel,” he said.

Semjen also said that radical Islam, which he said was another type of anti-Semitism, was non-existent in Hungary.

Slomo Koves, the chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH), said that Hungary’s Jewish community was “living its Renaissance”, while community leaders faced various challenges. Apart from fighting against anti-Semitism and ensuring the security of the Jewish community, of paramount importance is generating interest in real Jewish life, he said.

EJA Chairman Menachem Margolin said that restrictions on the freedom of religion were among the greatest problems for Jewish communities in Europe. Many countries have banned or plan to ban such important ritual activities as Kosher slaughter and circumcision, he added.

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