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Antisemitism in an Era of Transition

Continuities and Impact in Post-Communist Poland and Hungary

Edited By François Guesnet and Gwen Jones

The post-Communist transition in Eastern Central Europe has brought about democratic reform, liberalized economies and accession to the European Union, but also the emergence of political movements that revert to antisemitic rhetoric and arguments. This volume compares the genealogies and impact of antisemitism in contemporary Poland and Hungary. Leading and emerging scholars contrast developments in both countries from the last quarter of the nineteenth century to the present, analysing the roles played by organised religion, political leaders, media and press, but also by Communist Parties. They present historical analysis as well as the results of qualitative and quantitative research on contemporary public memory, the image of the Jew, antisemitic media, political constituencies and the interplay of prejudices, specifically anti-Roma racism. A topical bibliography of research on antisemitism in post-Communist Eastern Central Europe offers pathways to further research.
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Antisemitism in Poland and Hungary after 1989: Determinants of social impact: François Guesnet Gwen Jones


François Guesnet

Gwen Jones

On 20 November 2012 Brunon Kwiecień, a lecturer at the Agricultural University of Kraków, was arrested after his preparations for a terrorist attack on the Polish parliament, the Sejm, and the upper echelons of state administration were uncovered. The Polish and international press immediately named him the “Polish Breivik”, after the Norwegian terrorist who exploded a bomb in the government district of Oslo and singlehandedly killed 72 youths on the island of Utøya in July 2011. In his social network posts Kwiecień, who has considerable expertise in handling explosives, had done little to hide his xenophobic, chauvinist and antisemitic vision of the world, and his supporting comments referred to the right to defend Poland from “Judeo-European globalization”.1

Less than a week later, on 26 November, the day on which the Hungarian parliament voted in a controversial and short-lived new election law,2 Jobbik MP Márton Gyöngyösi proposed that in view of the ongoing conflict in Gaza, a list be drawn up of Hungarian parliamentary representatives whose dual nationality with Israel posed a security threat. This mention of a “Jew-list”, from which Gyöngyösi distanced himself the next day claiming misunderstanding, drew immediate domestic and international criticism: Jobbik and its proscribed satellite groups whose uniforms reminiscent of Arrow Cross units are already well-known to observers of Hungarian politics. Later that week in response, anti-Fascist activists dressed in concentration camp prisoners’ striped uniforms leafleted...

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