The World Jewish Congress typically holds its annual meeting in Jerusalem. This year, however, the group is meeting in Budapest, Hungary — for a reason.
The WJC wants to spotlight the rise of anti-Semitism in eastern Europe. And sure enough, the presence of the WJC caused the anti-Semites to come crawling out of their holes, spewing their hateful rhetoric. The Chairman of the Jobbik Party — which sounds like a Tolkien character but is the third-largest party in Hungary — accused Israelis of trying to buy the country, and another Jobbik member of Parliament said his country had become “subjugated to Zionism” and was the target of “colonization” by Israel. The ugly speeches and slanderous scapegoating are chillingly familiar and profoundly disturbing.
I commend the World Jewish Congress for confronting the anti-Semites, and for exposing the unfortunate truth: unbelievably, even after anti-Semitism caused millions of Jews to be slaughtered in the Holocaust, there remains a deep vein of anti-Semitism in the world. It shows up every now and then, in the rise of political parties like Jobbik, in the rantings of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or in the efforts of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev to obtain a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a libelous piece of venomous anti-Semitic propaganda that has motivated generations of bigots.
It’s important not to ignore the signs of anti-Semitism. The years before the Holocaust showed that merely hoping that right-thinking people will ultimately prevail isn’t good enough — anti-Semitic rhetoric and conduct needs to be confronted and defeated. That’s why moving the World Jewish Congress meeting to Budapest was the right thing to do.