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Antisemitic prejudice and political antisemitism in present-day Hungary.

Antisemitism appeared in Hungary in 1990, in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of communism and the introduction of free speech and a free press. The phenomenon caused great concern and heated debate. It was feared that the inevitable economic and social difficulties of the transition would render people receptive to antisemitic ideologies. At the center of the debate was whether the economic and social changes were the cause of the sudden increase in antisemitism and the rapid spread of antisemitic views or whether covert hostility toward Jews was coming to the surface as a consequence of the new civil liberties. As the extent of antisemitic prejudice in Hungarian society was unknown, from the mid-1990s a series of research studies were conducted to determine which social groups were affected. The various research projects--including my own empirical studies --sought primarily to measure the proportion of antisemites in Hungary and to identify the most common antisemitic views. On the basis of the results, researchers tried to estimate whether antisemitism was increasing over time. In my own research, I sought to identify explanatory factors for antisemitic prejudice as well as the typical characteristics of people who were inclined to be antisemitic; a further important aim was to determine the form in which antisemitism appears in the political arena and whether antisemitic prejudice was likely to turn into a political ideology. After the publication of a monograph on the findings of research undertaken between 1994 and 2006 (Kovacs, 2010), I conducted three further surveys to monitor changes in antisemitic prejudice. In what follows, based on the results of these surveys, I seek to analyze the direction and dynamics of changes observed in recent years. The question that I discuss in this article is: What explains the increase in antisemitic prejudice in Hungary since 2006 and especially since 2009?

The findings of surveys carried out regularly since 1995 show that-often contrary to the perceptions of observers--the share of antisemites among the adult Hungarian population barely changed until 2006. Although the results of the research conducted in different years are not always directly comparable because the surveys did not always include the same questions, nevertheless the findings show that the percentage of antisemites among the Hungarian population was roughly the same throughout 19952002. By 2006, the percentage had increased slightly, but it still did not exceed the highest value recorded in the preceding period (1994) (Kovacs, 2010, pp. 123-126).

Research undertaken since 2006 has sought to examine the various aspects of antisemitic prejudice. The 2009 survey examined first and foremost opinions on, and attitudes toward, the Holocaust, while research in 2010 investigated affective antisemitism. In late 2011, using a longer and more detailed questionnaire, we were able to repeat as far as possible the main questions of the major research surveys of 1995, 2002, and 2006. Questions measuring the strength of anti-Jewish sentiment (i.e., the emotional intensity of antisemitism), however, have been included in every survey questionnaire since 1993. This means that we can use the data to form an exact picture of changes in affective antisemitism over the whole period.

As Figure 1 shows, between 1993 and 2006 the share of those who emotionally reject Jews varied between 10 and 15 percent. After 2006, this percentage increased significantly to 28 percent of the adult population in 2010 and to 24 percent in 2011. The graph also shows that the percentage of those who emotionally reject Jews jumped around the time of national elections (held in Hungary in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010). This finding indicates that anti-Jewish sentiment strengthened at times of political mobilization, which suggests, in turn, that the "Jewish question" regularly became a part of a political campaign. The increase in anti-Jewish sentiment was also shown by another indicator, the "liking thermometer": whereas Jews were among the "more liked groups" until 2009, after 2010, they were included among the "more disliked groups"--although one should note that since 2010 only the German minority has qualified as a "more liked group" (Figure 2).



Based on two variables indicating the strength of affective antisemitism, the extent of the antisemitic groups altered as follows over time. (1)

In our research over the past decade and a half, the aim has been not only to measure the strength of anti-Jewish sentiment (i.e., the affective dimension of prejudice), but also to examine the extent of support for antisemitic views--that is, the cognitive dimension of prejudice and people's propensity to discriminate. The questions used in the various surveys sometimes changed, but some antisemitic statements were included in several survey questionnaires. Thus, it is possible, in such cases, to follow changes in opinions over time. As Table 1 shows, with the exception of statements expressing religious anti-Judaism, more people now agree with almost all the antisemitic statements than did so before--especially if we are looking at the post-1995 data. (Concerning the possible causes of the rather exceptional data of the 1994 survey, see Kovacs, 2010, p. 36, note 4.) The increase is particularly striking in the case of the three statements indicating concern about "Jewish power" and a willingness to discriminate ("Jewish intellectuals control the press and cultural sphere"; "There exists a secret Jewish network determining political and economic affairs"; "It would be best if Jews left the country"). According to the index that was formed based on agreement with the antisemitic statements, since 2006 the proportion of antisemites--particularly "moderate antisemites"--has increased and the proportion of non-antisemites has decreased among the adult population. Examining the proportion of extreme antisemites, we observe no significant difference between the group of respondents who answered all questions and the group of respondents who answered at least one question: in these two groups, the proportion of extreme antisemites was 8 and 9 percent (in 2006, it was 11%-14%). Examining the proportion of moderate antisemites, we observe a greater difference between the two groups: 29 and 35 percent (the corresponding percentages in 2006 were 14% and 21%). (2)

Theories on prejudice all state that prejudicial attitudes comprise at least two components, cognitive and affective (some theories treat a willingness to act on prejudice as a separate component). Accordingly, prejudice is usually measured in these two dimensions (Bergmann & Erb, 1991, pp. 41-57; Fiske, 2004, pp. 398-400). The data of the 2011 survey allow us to do so: based on a combination of the two indicators--measuring affective antisemitism and support for antisemitic views--we can make a well-founded estimate of the proportion of the current Hungarian adult population that is certainly antisemitic.

We made the estimate by placing those respondents classed as extreme antisemites in both dimensions, as well as those classed as extreme antisemites in one dimension and as moderate antisemites in the other dimension in the group of "certain" extreme antisemites. Meanwhile, those respondents classed as moderate antisemites in both dimensions or as extreme antisemites in one dimension and as non-antisemites in the other dimension were placed in the group of "certain" moderate antisemites. Finally, all other respondents were placed in the group of non-antisemites or--where there was a lack of responses--in the unclassified group. (3) The results of these calculations are shown in Table 2:

Thus, by 2011 the proportion of extreme antisemites had risen, while the percentage of moderate antisemites had fallen slightly. The figures also indicate a decrease in latent antisemitic views: the number of extreme antisemites increased significantly among those responding to all the statements measuring anti-Jewish sentiment.

The Content of Antisemitic Views

As in previous studies, changes in the content of antisemitic views were examined in three dimensions. when investigating political, discriminative, and religious antisemitism, I used the same six statements that were employed in the 2006 survey. (4) The analysis produced the following results, shown in Table 3:

As we look at the findings of the two surveys, which were conducted five years apart, the first striking difference is that far fewer respondents avoided answering questions in 2011 than in 2006. This obviously means that the increase in the proportion of respondents in the antisemitic group may also be explained by a decrease in latency: as antisemitism in public discourse becomes more strident, those who previously concealed their anti-Jewish prejudices feel encouraged to openly express them. Among respondents, there were increases in the percentages of both political antisemites and discriminative antisemites, but this may be linked with the increase in the propensity to respond. Thus, the real increase in the percentage of antisemites in recent years is probably smaller than the figures suggest. on the other hand, significantly fewer people are silent about their antisemitic views than was previously the case.

In both 2002 and in 2006, we also examined the size of the antisemitic hard core in the surveyed population--that is to say, we sought to ascertain how many people agree with both the political and the discriminative antisemitic statements. while this core constituted around 7 percent in 2006, by 2011 it had grown to 9 percent. Indeed, in that year, 21 percent of respondents agreed with both the political and the discriminative statements.

As the results show, the percentage of non-antisemites remained essentially unchanged, but the structure of the group agreeing with antisemitic views altered. The proportion of respondents agreeing only with the discriminative statements did not change, but the propensity to discriminate increased among the political antisemites. Accordingly, the proportion of respondents agreeing only with the political statements decreased slightly. A greater propensity to discriminate among the political antisemites may indicate an increase in the mobilization potential of antisemitism over the past five years--i.e., that is to say, among those who already show support for anti-Jewish views, the propensity to accept antisemitic political demands is greater now than it was five years ago.

Already at the time of the 2002 survey we found that discriminative antisemitism was more common among groups of lower social status and that political antisemitism was more common among groups of higher social status (Kovacs, 2010, pp. 114-121). The findings of the 2011 study were similar: respondents agreeing only with the discriminative antisemitic statements were more likely than average to be rural dwellers, male, unemployed, and to have no more than elementary schooling. meanwhile, respondents agreeing only with the political antisemitic statements were significantly more likely than average to live in budapest or another urban area and to have a university education and a higher-paying, white-collar job. The data of the current study also confirm the finding of previous research that political antisemitism by itself is not necessarily closely linked to a personal antipathy for Jews. As Table 5 shows, among respondents who are exclusively political antisemites, the emotional rejection of Jews is not much stronger than the average for the whole population. moreover, these antisemites are less hostile to Jews than they are to all other ethnic groups in Hungary listed on the questionnaire, with the exception of the Germans. (it should be noted that even the hard core of antisemites--the political and discriminative antisemites--are also more hostile to Arab, Roma, and Chinese people than they are to Jews.)


Previous research in Hungary has usually shown only a small correlation between antisemitic prejudice and the socio-demographic and economic indicators. Whereas studies in Western Europe and the United States have found that anti-Jewish sentiment is more common among poorly educated people of lower social classes than among high-status groups, in Hungary the situation is less clear. in the major 1995 study, these factors accounted for less than 2.5 percent of the variance in antisemitism, and their explanatory potential did not increase in subsequent years (Kovacs, 2010, p. 53, and Chapter 3). Other attitudes, however, did explain in large part antisemitic prejudice: in 2002, xenophobia, nationalism, and conservatism accounted for 43 percent of the variance in antisemitism; moreover, age and social status showed an effect only through such attitudes: older people and those of lower social status proved to be more receptive to these attitudes than did others (Kovacs, 2010, p. 106).

The current survey produced findings similar to those of previous studies. Antisemitic prejudice5 was barely influenced by the socio-demographic background variables: males and skilled blue-collar workers were more antisemitic than others, but the explanatory potential of these factors was weak. When, however, we examine other attitudes to explain antisemitic prejudice, the situation changes. Xenophobia, religious conservatism, law-and-order xenophobic attitudes, and nationalism do greatly influence support for antisemitic views ([R.sup.2] = 31%). (6) In the course of previous studies, we saw that anomie--that is, distrust of ethical and social norms and of institutions and political leaders--contributes to the development of antisemitic prejudice (Kovacs, 2010, pp. 56-60). The 2011 survey confirmed this observation: anomic attitudes directly and indirectly--by inducing nationalism, law-and-order xenophobia, and more general xenophobia--strongly influence the development of antisemitic prejudice. While socio-demographic variables exerted little influence on such attitudes, certain trends do reveal the social background of antisemitism. Xenophobes--people who are generally hostile to all "outsiders"--are also hostile to Jews. In addition to xenophobia-driven antisemitism, two other types can be observed. The first of these has been identified in many studies; it has always been the traditional terrain of antisemitism. In this group, older and poorly educated village-dwellers are overrepresented, among them men who typically display anomic attitudes. This group is highly receptive to religious conservative attitudes (applies particularly to women in the group) and to law-and-order xenophobia (applies particularly to men). A rather different group appears to comprise those people whose antisemitism is induced by nationalism. In this group, we find young and strongly anomic people. It is impossible, however, to link anomie--which induces nationalist attitudes--with a clearly definable social group. A great variety of people may perceive a weakening of social cohesion and an unraveling of the social fabric. Since a fear of social atomization and losing ties to social integrations--and thus the presence of anomic attitudes--may be caused not by actual deprivation but instead by a loss of social status and a diminished ability to cope with the complexity of society (particularly at times of rapid change), these attitudes may not necessarily be linked with clearly definable social groups.

Table 6 gives a give a clear picture of the studied population. (7) We see that 30 percent (8) of the studied population (cluster 1) obtained significantly lower scores than the average for the whole population in all dimensions of attitude surveyed, and thus may be considered to be free of antisemitism. The socio-demographic profile of this group is the high-status 30-40 age group living in Budapest. Such people typically support the leftwing opposition parliamentary parties. The inverse of this group is cluster 3, representing 14 percent of the studied population, which typically has law-and-order, xenophobic, and conservative attitudes and is anomic, and thus may be considered to be certainly antisemitic. We see greater complexity in clusters 2 and 4. Village dwellers are overrepresented in both clusters, but whereas cluster 4 tends to be made up of older people with little education, in cluster 2 we typically find young people (18-29 age group) who are relatively better educated (skilled workers particularly). Though people in both clusters are less antisemitic than on average, they do exhibit some of the attitudes associated with antisemitism: law-and-order attitudes, nationalism, and anomie in cluster 2, and religious conservatism and xenophobia in cluster 4. This latter discrepancy between the two clusters is probably an effect of the different age composition.

Concerning the question of differences in social status between the clusters, we can see that the profile of clusters 3 and 4 is typically older and poorly educated individuals of low-middle status. The basic difference between the two clusters is that members of the strongly nationalistic, xenophobic, and antisemitic cluster 3 live mainly in provincial urban areas (i.e., not in Budapest), while members of the law-and-order, religious, and xenophobic cluster 4 are primarily village dwellers and women. A further striking difference is that members of cluster 3 are very interested in politics and support the far-right political party, Jobbik,9 while members of cluster 4-inasmuch as they have any interest in politics--typically support the governing center-right Fidesz party and are hostile to the far right. Members of cluster 2 have little interest in politics, do not intend to vote in elections, but--if they must express a preference--would tend to support Jobbik.

We can see, therefore, that the cluster structure reflects a settlement structure. Within this structure, differences of status influence in which cluster members of the sample are found. Budapest residents--especially those of high status--belong among the well-integrated non-antisemites with liberal attitudes, while people living in urban areas outside Budapest-especially those of lower status--are typically found among the extreme antisemites. Village dwellers--depending on their age and level of education--have attitudes that in the case of urban dwellers induce antisemitism, but in the rural milieu the effect of such attitudes is not as strong as in urban areas. When we examined what distinguishes antisemites from nonantisemites within the rural clusters (2 and 4), we found that it was primarily difference in status. Forty-nine percent of the members of cluster 2 and 48 percent of cluster 4 belong among the extreme or moderate antisemites. In cluster 2, we see significant differences between the groups of antisemites and non-antisemites in terms of regional distribution and the relationship with politics. The antisemites tend to live in the country's eastern region or in central parts of the Great Plain, while non-antisemites are more likely to come from the northeast or from the southern part of Transdanubia. Turning to politics, we see that people with an interest in politics who are certain to vote in the next elections are overrepresented among the antisemites, while typically the opposite is true of the non-antisemites: they have no interest in politics and will not vote in the elections; thus, although they sympathize with Jobbik, they will not cast a vote for anyone. In cluster 4, we found even less difference between the antisemites and nonantisemites: it seems those with a propensity for antisemitism--particularly political antisemitism--are not the older village dwellers typical of the cluster, but people aged under 50 living in urban areas outside Budapest, who are less numerous in this cluster and who, in fact, typically feature in cluster 3.

Summarizing the results of the analysis, we can state that although strong antisemitic prejudice reflects a typical attitude structure and these attitudes correlate with certain status indicators, the correlations cannot be described as strong causal explanations of the phenomenon. Based on the surveyed attitudes, a distinction can be made between certain nonantisemitic and certain strongly antisemitic groups, which together comprise 40 percent of the population. For the remaining 60 percent, however, the explanatory potential of such attitudes is far weaker: it appears that the effect of attitudes inducing antisemitism differs among the various settlement types and regions. Moreover, the potency of the effect seems to be related to the relationship of respondents to politics: a similar attitude structure gives rise to stronger antisemitism among those respondents with a greater interest in politics and well-developed party preferences. Based on all this, it seems to be worth analyzing the hypothesis that attitudes accounting for antisemitic prejudice--xenophobia, law-and-order attitude, conservatism, anomie, and nationalism--induce antisemitism where political actors seek to mobilize groups with these attitudes and use antisemitic language and ideology to form a common denominator around such attitudes. This process resembles the one that gave rise to German political antisemitism in the 19th century--a process analyzed by Shulamit Volkov in several works. Volkov (Volkov, 1978, 1989) demonstrated that the rise of German political antisemitism in the final third of the 19th century could be accounted for by the fact that amid the economic crisis afflicting the country such grave problems as the "social question" and the vulnerability of social integration were increasingly explained in terms of the "unresolved nature" of the "Jewish question," whereby the economic, political, social, and cultural "expansion" of emancipated Jewry was used to explain any modern phenomenon perceived as a threat by major social groups. In this way, antisemitism became a discursive code for the rejection of modernity, which political actors then shaped into an effective political ideology for mobilizing groups in society whose status was threatened for whatever reason by modernization. If our hypothesis is true, then a similar process occurred in Hungary after 2006, when antisemitic prejudice strengthened in tandem with the rise of a far-right and antisemitic political party. The question is: to what extent does the latter phenomenon explain the former?

When answering this question, we started from the observation that the same group of attitudes induces regionally different effects in terms of the strength of antisemitism--as we saw above in the example of attitude cluster 2. This means that, in addition to attitudes inducing prejudice, other factors also contribute to the development of antisemitism, and that these factors are present to a different degree in the various regions. We also arrive at the same conclusion based on another observation. The results of surveys conducted in different years show that the intensity of antisemitic prejudice changes over time even within the same region. It is unlikely, however, that this is the consequence of regional changes in the background attitudes, because changes in such attitudes as law and order, conservatism, xenophobia, and anomie are usually slow and gradual. Thus, other factors must be contributing to the changing intensity of antisemitic prejudice.

Observations showing that other factors significantly influence antisemitic prejudice in addition to the attitudes explaining prejudice are in accord with the findings of a survey conducted in 2008-2009 by the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Zick, Kupper, & Hovermann, 2011). This study mapped out the propensity to intolerance, prejudice, and discrimination in eight European countries, including Hungary. When analyzing the results, the researchers found that among the eight countries, the surveyed cluster of attitudes--which they called "group-focused enmity"--was most typical in Poland and then in Hungary. The explanatory potential, however, of the attitude variables, ideological attitudes, and value variables they used for a causal explanation of the phenomenon (including anomie and religious conservatism, which we also have used) was weakest in Hungary-although in Hungary as well they found a significant correlation between them and group-focused enmity. This also indicates what our own data have demonstrated--namely, that the propensity to prejudice is clearly an effect of certain sociological or socio-psychological factors, but that the manifestation and mobilization of this inclination are due to other factors.

We began to explore this hypothesis by comparing the proportion of antisemites in different regions of the country and at various points in time. The comparison showed interesting changes. Whereas between 2003 and 2009 the proportion of antisemites was significantly higher than elsewhere in the southwestern and central regions of the country (i.e., in southern Transdanubia, Pest County, and Budapest), after 2009 the surveys revealed substantial changes: in 2011, the proportion of antisemites increased significantly in northern parts of the Great Plain and in the northeastern region, while non-antisemites were significantly more numerous in Budapest and in Pest County--and in the northwestern region--than they were elsewhere. This change shows strong parallels with changes over time in party preferences.

Between 1994 and 2006, the political party of the Hungarian far right was the Hungarian Justice and Life Party, led by the late Istvan Csurka, the most influential antisemitic writer and politician of the first two post-com munist decades. This openly antisemitic party, which at the 1998 elections succeeded in crossing the 5 percent threshold needed for representation in Parliament, was particularly successful in Budapest and the surrounding area, in Pest County, and in several other urban centers; in Budapest, for instance, it received almost 9 percent of the vote. In 2002, the party failed to enter Parliament, and so at the 2006 elections it formed an alliance with the new far-right party, Jobbik. A resounding defeat was the result: the alliance of the two parties won only 2.2 percent of the vote. Thereafter, Jobbik gradually won over voters and added them to the far right, thereby squeezing the Hungarian Justice and Life Party out of Hungarian politics. As Figures 4 and 5 show, in the initial period, support for Jobbik--which was still modest--was most visible in those regions where the Hungarian Justice and Life Party had recruited a substantial share of its supporters. Over a threeyear period, however, the situation changed radically (see Figures 4 and 5): at the 2010 elections, when Jobbik achieved 17 percent of the vote, support for the party was greater than average in the northern Great Plain region and in northern Hungary (22%-24%), while it was below average in Budapest (13.8%) and in southern Transdanubia (13.5%). Evidently, this change occurred in parallel with contemporaneous regional changes in the spread of antisemitic prejudice.

It is unlikely that the intensity of antisemitic prejudices increased suddenly in these regions during this period, and that the new antisemitic voters then found their party in Jobbik; it is far more likely that Jobbik, whose rhetoric gives an important place to antisemitism, mobilized the latent prejudice among its potential voters and "taught" them to consider antisemitism to be an accessory of--or, indeed, an acceptable element in-their choice of party. This does not mean that Jobbik mobilized primarily antisemitic voters; this is what the Hungarian Justice and Life Party had sought to do--in vain. According to our survey findings, 65 percent of Jobbik voters harbor antisemitic prejudice. But instead, the research study--the aim of which was to determine why Jobbik's Facebook fans support the party--found that no more than 4 percent of respondents mentioned antisemitism as a motive (Bartlett, Birdwell, Kreko, Benfield, & Gyori, et al., 2012, p. 50). It therefore seems that far-right voters are not motivated above all by antisemitism when choosing their party but by other factors. An increase in antisemitic prejudice, however, will be a consequence of that choice. Thus, antisemitism correlates with party choice, but it does not explain it. All of this means that the appearance of the antisemitic party (i.e., a purely political factor) is a major and independent explanatory cause of the increase in antisemitism after 2009 that affects it, irrespective of atti tudes capable of eliciting antisemitic prejudices.10 This leads us to the methodological conclusion that research on antisemitism should not be confined to the theoretical framework of prejudiced attitudes. An explanation of the dynamics of prejudice cannot be reached exclusively by means of socio-demographic indicators and attitudes pointing to a propensity to antisemitism. We need also to examine how anti-Jewish sentiment is transformed into political--in the sense of Schmidt and Arendt--that clearly marks out the boundaries between political opponents. It is therefore worth investigating how antisemitism fits into Jobbik's general political rhetoric.




Antisemitic discourse appeared in the Hungarian public space in the immediate aftermath of the political changes of 1989-90. For many people this came as a shock, because they believed that the old prejudices had passed into oblivion during the four decades of communism, when public antisemitic speech was prohibited. As many sources have since shown, this is not what happened at all (Kovacs, 2010). Beneath the surface, many antisemitic cliches survived--in the private sphere and in personal communications and especially in non-public intellectual communications (Kovacs, 2012). Another reason the survival of the "Jewish question" happened beneath the surface was Communist Party policy. Despite its total control over Jewish institutions and Jewish community life, the Hungarian Communist Party (similarly to other communist parties in East Central Europe) considered the conflicting historical memories about Jews and the Jewish presence in Hungarian society to be disturbing factors. Throughout the period, the party kept the problem permanently on the political agenda. In doing so, it (re)constructed the boundaries between Jews and non-Jews by discursive and political means and then eagerly manipulated the selfconstructed "Jewish question" according to its own temporary political aims. This explains to a great extent the open reemergence of antisemitism after 1990. Nevertheless, during the decades of prohibition of antisemitic speech, many aspects of the antisemitic vocabulary, language, and ideology had indeed faded from public consciousness. Thus, when the antisemitic discourse reappeared in the public space after 1990, a part of Hungarian society--primarily people born after 1956--had to "relearn" the antisemitic vocabulary and to find a way of systemizing their rather diffuse prejudices. The "relearning process" occurred in the years following the political changes of 1989-90. The emergent antisemitic discourse played a major role in this process (Kovacs, 2010, Chapter 1).

The first step in the structural differentiation of antisemitic discourse was to challenge and question the language of the Jewish-Hungarian, liberal-universalist tradition in which Jewish and non-Jewish Hungarians appeared as constituting one single national community. The emerging new discourse branded the Jews as an alien--or newly alienated--outgroup. This was already described in terms of a historical process by the renowned Hungarian author Sandor Csoori (Csoori, 1990). According to him, the first two decades of the 20th century were the last period in which Hungarian Jews were still able to identify with the most vital issues of the Hungarian nation: "The Republic of the Councils (the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919), the Horthy era, and especially the period of bloody Nazi persecution, destroyed the possibility of a spiritual and emotional bond," he wrote. Targeting the popularity of what was the liberal party at the time (the Alliance of Free Democrats), which was considered to be "Jewish" by some of its right-wing adversaries, he continued: "Today, attempts at a reverse assimilation are becoming increasingly apparent in our country: the liberal Hungarian Jews are now seeking to 'assimilate,' in style and thought, the Hungarians. With this aim in mind, they could establish a parliamentary spring-board--something they had never been able to do before."

The next step in the development of the new antisemitic discourse was to define the relationship between the two groups as one of conflict--as a battle between nationals and anti-nationals. The two groups were constructed as permanent adversaries, independently from the characteristics of the political system. Indeed, representatives of the extreme right-wing discourse argued that there was a striking continuity between the communist and post-communist system. In their view, the leaders and vehicles of the communist system were the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, a vengeful minority held permanently in terror and thus looking for foreign masters. After the fall of communism, Jews were able to maintain their previous positions of power because the former communist Jews were linked by a secret thread to Jews who opposed the former political system and founded the strongly anti-communist liberal party of the transition. The explanation for this was that the experiences and memory of persecution had triggered the same reactions in both groups, despite their seemingly different political stances. For those who have been living in constant fear ever since the Holocaust, anything that happened in the interest of the nation was a threat. Therefore, the former communists and the liberals of the 1990s became allies and continuously raised the charge of antisemitism in order to delegitimize the anti-communist national forces representing the real interests of the majority. Because a small minority like the Jews would never be able to exert decisive influence on the politics of the country, however, they looked for the support of powerful allies, making use of international Jewish financial and media power. Accordingly, after the fall of communism new foreign masters appeared who were no longer in Moscow, but in New York and in Tel Aviv (Csurka, 1992; Domonkos, 1990). Thus, through a renewal of the old stereotypes of Jewish world conspiracy, local antisemitism was placed in a global context, whereby the struggle of the Hungarian people for survival was presented as just one example of similar struggles against the "globalizing" conqueror of the world, which included the struggle of the Palestinians against Israel and the struggle of the entire Arab world--and even of Europe--against the United States. In addition, by suggesting continuity between the dominance of the pre-1990 communist anti-nationals and the post-communist liberal ones, the antisemitic rhetoric acquired a system-critical dimension. This dimension enabled those who had opposed the communist system but who had also been disappointed by post-communism to express their total rejection of the new system in such language.

On the extreme right this discourse became the general conceptual framework for explaining the difficulties of the post-communist period and for offering remedies. The late Istvan Csurka, referenced above and the most influential antisemitic writer and politician of the first two post-communist decades, characterized the world as follows: "It's a war now, a domestic Hungarian cold war, between the Hungarian people and the domineering foreigners" (Csurka, 1995a); "... They've forced upon us a financial system and a colonial financial management administration which [...] aims to establish a secure zone, a refugee camp and a hinterland for the perpetual war in the Middle East. For all this to happen, the primary need is that others rather than Hungarians should dispose of Hungarian assets, or Hungarians who are reliable as far as the Middle East is concerned and who profit from the transaction" (Csurka, 1995b); and "[The] ... final aim is the extermination of Hungarians. Not by using weapons or poison gas, but by financial policy means, by removing livelihood opportunities, and by leading them toward self-destruction" (Csurka, 1998).

In the next fifteen years, the antisemitic discourse barely changed. The antisemitic texts of Krisztina Morvai, representative of the Hungarian farright Jobbik Party in the European Parliament, which were written more than ten years after Csurka's articles, could have been worded by Csurka himself. The discourses point in the same direction: their aim is to construct a powerful "Other," a political enemy able to embody the general Evil in the world.

Setting "our kind [of people]" against "your kind"--outsiders that malign the country and causing the decline of Hungary--Morvai wrote: "Decisions made by your kind [of people] are always dictated by whatever happens to 'pay off' at a particular point in time, whatever is profitable for you, that is, whatever results in money or power. Common values are replaced by antifascist slogans and anti-Hungarian sentiment, and other ways of bringing 'our kind' [of people] under control ... Your kind [intend us to be] obedient subjects, servants and domestics, in an impoverished and maimed Hungary that has been turned into a third-world colony" (Morvai, 2008). The discourse leaves little doubt about the identity of the 'Other': "If, after the fifty years of your communism, there had remained in us even a speck of the ancient Hungarian prowess, then after the so-called 'change of regime' your kind would not have unpacked your legendary suitcases, which were supposedly on standby. No. You would have left promptly with your suitcases! You would have voluntarily moved out of your stolen ... villas, and ... you would not have been able to put your grubby hands on the Hungarian people's property, our factories, our industrial plants, our hospitals ... We shall take back our homeland from those who have taken it hostage!" (Morvai, 2008).

Though Csurka's and Morvai's texts are almost identical in meaning, the political function of the antisemitic discourse seems to be very different in the two cases. Whereas Csurka and his party, the Hungarian Justice and Life Party, tried to directly mobilize antisemitic groups by their rhetoric, Jobbik seems to exploit the political potential of the antisemitic rhetoric for other purposes. The strongest mobilizing factor of the party program and rhetoric is not antisemitism, but its bluntly racist anti-Roma demands: the facilitation of Roma segregation and the withdrawal of welfare from impoverished Roma groups (Karacsony & Rona, 2010). These and some additional programmatic demands of the party--the demand for a revision of the postwar boundaries, the rejection of Western integration--create the radical outlook of the organization, through which Jobbik can portray itself as being on one side of the political divide with all the other mainstream parties on the other. The "ownership" of these themes positions the party unambiguously in opposition to all mainstream "establishment" parties, be they on the left or right of politics, in government or as part of the parliamentary opposition. This self-positioning enabled the party to attract the votes many of those groups that had become disappointed in the post-communist decades and had turned against the new system in its totality. Many empirical investigations have proved that quite a wide array of different social groups tend to accept anti-establishment views in present-day Hungary, and Jobbik draws support from these various social groups (Karacsony & Rona, 2010; Kovacs, 2012). (11) These people vote for the party for various reasons (Kovacs, 2012), and consequently, Jobbik's political success is due to its ability to find the element that binds the various groups together. The common denominator that unites the groups behind the party is a strong anti-establishment attitude, and Jobbik was able to locate easy to-understand identity pegs for expressing this common denominator as the basic trait of the party's identity. Jobbik's antisemitism should be interpreted in this context.

It is striking that whereas each of the discourse elements underlying the anti-establishment identity have been included in the party's program in the form of concrete political demands, antisemitism has remained at the level of discourse: antisemitic political demands were absent both from the party's program and from the antisemitic discourses in its media. (12) It seems that the present-day Hungarian far-right antisemitic discourse basically has a group-identity function, appealing to those who, for whatever reason, belong to the anti-establishment camp. The heterogeneity of this camp, however, requires a common language, one able to express the common group belonging. It is the antisemitic language that makes members of the group recognizable to each other and that allows them to express commonality and groupness. In the case of Jobbik, antisemitism seems to play the role of group language (Kovacs & Szilagyi, 2012). In this regard, the function of antisemitism closely resembles what Volkov (1989) wrote about the antisemitism of the 19th century: at that time, antisemitism functioned as a code for anti-modernity, serving as a common denominator for hostile feelings related to modernization and its various consequences. Nowadays, Hungarian antisemitism on the extreme right seems to serve as code for the political identity of those who oppose the system of parliamentary democracy.


According to our research findings, during the first decade and a half after the fall of communism, 10%-15% of the Hungarian adult population held strong antisemitic prejudice. Anti-Jewish sentiment was reactive to political campaigns: antisemitism increased in election years and then fell back to its previous level. This trend altered after 2006, and the surveys indicate an increase in prejudice since 2009. The increase in the percentage of antisemites is related in large part to a substantial decrease in latency, but an increase in the number of people harboring such prejudice in society is probable. The results of our investigations show not only an increase in the absolute percentage of antisemites, but also an increase in the proportion of antisemites who embed their antisemitism in the political context and who would be inclined, under certain circumstances, to support antisemitic discrimination. This phenomenon is linked with the appearance on the political scene of Jobbik, a more or less openly antisemitic party.

When examining the causes of antisemitism, we reached the same conclusions as in earlier studies: certain attitudes--such as general xenophobia, anomie, law-and-order conservatism, and nationalism--correlate significantly with antisemitism and well explain its potency. Nevertheless, the most interesting finding of the 2011 study was that these attitudes do not elicit the same intensity of antisemitic feeling in each social milieu and in each region. The differences correlate with the strength of Jobbik's support in the various regions. Accordingly, we hypothesized that support for a farright party is not a consequence of antisemitism, but--conversely--should be regarded as a factor that mobilizes attitudes leading to antisemitism and that directs people toward antisemitism. Thus, antisemitism is--at least in large part--a consequence of an attraction to the far right rather than an explanation for it. In this article we attempted to substantiate this hypothesis--whose verification would require many more studies--by examining the far-right antisemitic discourse. In the course of this, we found that the primary function of the discourse is not to formulate anti-Jewish political demands but to develop and use a language that clearly distinguishes its users from all other actors in the political area, doing so in such a way that those who reject the antisemitic language are presented as supporters of the current political establishment, while those who use the antisemitic language as the radical opponents of it. Thus, the main function of the language is to establish a common identity for groups that, for various reasons and motives, have turned against the liberal parliamentary system that replaced communism and have given their support to the anti-establishment far right, which does not hesitate to capitalize on these pseudo-revolutionary resentments.


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(1.) This antisemitism indicator was constructed on the basis of answers to two questions. The first question concerned whether the respondent placed himself or herself in the group whose members "feel antipathy toward Jews." The second concerned whether the respondent liked or disliked Jews on the basis of a 9-point scale. Those respondents who stated that they felt antipathy to Jews and scored between 1 to 6 on the Liking scale were classified as extreme antisemites. The remnant of the "antipathy" group and those who stated that they don't feel antipathy but fell into the lower tercile (1-3) on the Like/Dislike scale were classified as moderate antisemites; all other respondents were classified as non-antisemites.

(2.) Of those respondents who answered all the questions (N = 789), having aggregated their scores relating to eight statements (5: Fully agrees--1: Fully disagrees), I placed those scoring 31-40 on the scale among the extreme antisemites, those scoring 21-30 among the moderate antisemites, and those scoring 8-20 among the non-antisemites.

Support for              Affective antisemitism
antisemitic views

Degree of antisemitism   no/unclassifiable    moderate
no/unclassifiable        no/unclassifiable    no/unclassifiable
moderate                 no/unclassifiable    certainly moderate
extreme                  certainly moderate   certainly extreme

Support for              Affective antisemitism
antisemitic views

Degree of antisemitism   extreme
no/unclassifiable        certainly moderate
moderate                 certainly extreme
extreme                  certainly extreme

(4.) Political antisemitism: "Jewish intellectuals control the press and cultural sphere"; "There exists a secret Jewish network determining political and economic affairs"; Discriminative antisemitism: "It would be best if Jews left the country; "In certain areas of employment, the number of Jews should be limited"; Religious antisemitism: "The crucifixion of Jesus is the unforgivable sin of the Jews"; "The suffering of the Jewish people was God's punishment."

(5.) The antisemitism indicator was formed as a principal component based on respondents' agreement with the statements in Table 1 (without the statement relating to israel) and from the two items that serve to measure affective antisemitism (see note 1).

(6.) These variables were formed as principal components. The items used to create the principal components were as follows: Law-and-order xenophobia: immigration rules should be tightened; would support the death penalty; would limit the number of colored people in the country (agreement/rejection); Religious conservatism: would restrict abortions; has religious convictions; considers homosexuality to be immoral (agreement/rejection); Xenophobia: like/dislike of eight ethnic groups (score on scale); Anomie: in this country you have to be dishonest to get rich; if people had the will, they could determine the fate of the country (rejection); nowadays, the courts do not serve justice to the people; nowadays, the country's leaders are not really concerned about people like you; today, everyone and anyone can be bought (agreement/rejection); Nationalism: a firmer stand should be taken to defend the interests of the Hungarian minorities abroad; the defense of Hungary's national interests is more important than EU membership; in important matters, people with strong national feelings should have a decisive say (agreement/rejection).

(7.) For this calculation we used the SPSS Quick Cluster program.

(8.) We included in the analysis those respondents who answered all the questions constituting the factors. The structure we saw closely resembled what we receive if we exclude only those who refused to answer any of the questions.

(9.) The Jobbik party was founded in 2002. In 2009, the party received 427,773 votes (14.77%) and three seats in the European elections, and 855,436 votes (16.67%) and 17 seats (12.18%) in the 2010 parliamentary elections.

(10.) Linear regression analysis can also be used to show this. In the course of linear regression, we defined antisemitic prejudice as a dependent variable. Among the independent variables, we also placed--in addition to the attitudes presented above--the choice of Jobbik. The variables together accounted for 31 percent of the variance of the principal component of antisemitism. Choosing Jobbik directly affected the antisemitism variable (beta = .102, sig. = .000), while through its effect on the nationalism variable (beta = .142., sig. = .000), it was also indirectly linked with antisemitism.

(11.) On the anti-establishment character of the post-communist extreme right, see Bustikova, 2009. Research on the rise of the "social demand" for right-wing extremism in Hungary showed that the proportion of those who do not have trust in the existing institutional system grew drastically between 2002 (12%) and 2009 (46%) (Kreko, P., Jultosz, A., & Molnar, C., 2011).

(12.) A first step into the direction of antisemitic political demands was the parliamentary question of a Jobbik MP on November 26, 2012, in which he demanded the listing of government members and MPs of Jewish origin "representing security risk" for Hungary. See

Andras Kovacs, is a professor at the Nationalism Studies Program and academic director of the Jewish Studies Program at Central European University, Budapest, and has held many academic appointments throughout the globe. He has research interests in Jewish identity and antisemitism in postwar Europe, memory and identity, socioeconomic attitudes and political choice, and the European extreme right. Widely published, his latest book is The Stranger at Hand: Antisemitic Prejudices in Post-Communist Hungary (Brill, 2010).
Table 1
Support for Anti-Jewish Views, 1994-2011

                                              Year   agree (%)

Jewish intellectuals control the press        1994      12
and cultural sphere                           2002      13
                                              2006      12
                                              2011      14

There exists a secret Jewish network          1994       9
determining political and economic affairs    2002       8
                                              2006      10
                                              2011      14

it would be best if Jews left the country     1994      11
                                              1995       5
                                              2002       3
                                              2006       5
                                              2011       8

in certain areas of employment, the           1994       8
number of Jews should be limited              2002       3
                                              2006       5
                                              2011       7

The crucifixion of Jesus is the               1994      15
unforgivable sin of the Jews                  1995      23
                                              2002       8
                                              2006       8
                                              2011       9

The suffering of the Jewish people            1994      12
was God's punishment                          1995      17
                                              2002       7
                                              2006       7
                                              2011       5

Jews are more willing than others to          2006       8
use shady practices to get what they want     2011       9
The Jews of this country are more loyal to    2006       8
israel than to Hungary                        2011      12

                                              Year   Agree (%)

Jewish intellectuals control the press        1994      18
and cultural sphere                           2002      21
                                              2006      19
                                              2011      21

There exists a secret Jewish network          1994      14
determining political and economic affairs    2002      14
                                              2006      17
                                              2011      20

it would be best if Jews left the country     1994      12
                                              2002       6
                                              2006       7
                                              2011      12

in certain areas of employment, the           1994       9
number of Jews should be limited              2002       9
                                              2006      10
                                              2011      12

The crucifixion of Jesus is the               1994      11
unforgivable sin of the Jews                  1995
                                              2002       9
                                              2006      12
                                              2011      12

The suffering of the Jewish people            1994      12
was God's punishment                          1995
                                              2002      10
                                              2006       7
                                              2011       9

Jews are more willing than others to          2006      13
use shady practices to get what they want     2011      17
The Jews of this country are more loyal to    2006      15
israel than to Hungary                        2011      15


POPULATION, 2006-2011

        Extreme antisemites            Moderate antisemites
                       Those                         Those

        Full sample    responding to   Full sample   responding to
                       all questions                 all questions

2006    13             18              12            16
2011    17             26              9             14

        Non-antisemites/ Unclassifed

        Full sample   responding to
                      all questions

2006    75            66
2011    64            59

Table 3

Content of Antisemitic Prejudice I

                                Agrees        Agrees
                                with two      with one
                              statements    statement
                                  (%)           (%)

                              2006   2011   2006   2011

Political antisemitism        21     25     11     18
Discriminative antisemitism    7      13     12     14
Religious antisemitism        10     9      12     17

                                 Agrees         Doesn't
                                with none      know/No
                                  of the         response
                                statements     (%)
                               2006    2011   2006   2011

Political antisemitism         38      45     30      12
Discriminative antisemitism    71      68     10      5
Religious antisemitism         51      70     27      4



                            Agrees with
                            at least one of
          Agrees with       both the           Agrees only
          all the           political and      with the
          political and     the                political
          discriminative    discriminative     statements
          statements        statements         (one or two of
          (%)               (%)                them) (%)

   2006      2011       2006   2011        2006   2011
    7         9          19     21          26     22

          Agrees only
          with the
          discriminative    Agrees with
          statements        none of the
          (one or two of    statements
          them) (%)         (%)

   2006      2011       2006   2011
    7         7          48     50



                                                    Dislike Jews (1)-
                                                    Like Jews (9)
                                N       (%)         (averages)

Political and discriminative     246    21     2.84     3.65
Discriminative antisemites        64     7     4.13     3.77
Political antisemites            260    22     5.16     4.42
Non-antisemites                  594    50     5.63     5.17
total                           1,164   100    5.17     4.61


                     Cluster 1   Cluster 2   Cluster 3   Cluster 4

Law-and-order        -1.11274      .39902      .50689      .48485
Religious             -.23066     -.27972      .69365      .07092
Nationalism           -.67519      .54870      .87141     -.44614
Anomie                -.28525      .71233      .68054     -.81072
General xenophobia    -.64262     -.25403     1.02775      .35505
Antisemitism          -.49075     -.24161     1.98920     -.20310
N = 742              221 (30%)   221 (30%)   79 (10%)    221 (30%)


SOCIETY, 2003-2011

                      2003    2006   2009   2010   2011

Extreme anti-Semites      9         14       9      22      20
Moderate anti-Semites     21        9        9      22      15
non anti-Semites          68        74       65     54      62
no answer                 2         3        17     2       3

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Author:Kovacs, Andras
Publication:Journal for the Study of Antisemitism
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EXHU
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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