MINELRES: Jewish nationality in Hungary?
Thu Nov 10 16:09:22 2005
Original sendr: Solymosi Judit <firstname.lastname@example.org>
JEWISH NATIONALITY IN HUNGARY?
Article of the weekly Heti Világgazdaság (Weekly World Economy)
The full article can be read the following address:
Parliament is likely to have the final say on whether Jews should be recognised
as a nationality in Hungary. But the Electoral Commission has given the nod to
the petition needed to bring the issue before parliament.
"We have set ourselves the aim of having the Jews of Hungary recognised
alongside the country's other national minorities," says a declaration signed
by four individuals that has been submitted to the Electoral Commission (OVB).
They chose the OVB because the 1993 Act on national and ethnic minorities says
that if another group wishes to join the ranks of the 13 other recognised
national minorities, the OVB has to give consent to the collecting of one
thousand signatures. In this case, the OVB gave the go-ahead.
Curiously, the petitioning process was incorporated into the 1993 Act precisely
because of the Jews. Some Jewish public figures have been trying to have the
Jews of Hungary recognised as a nation since the end of the 1980s. Even the one-
party State raised the possibility in 1989, when a 'Nationalities College' was
established under Imre Pozsgay's leadership. Jewish representatives were co-
opted into this body. They came from three organisations: Gusztav Zoltai of the
National Representation of Hungarian Jews (MIOK), the journalist Tamas Zalai of
the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association and Gyorgy Landeszmann from the
National Rabbi Training Institute.
The body came up with a law that came into force in 1990. It listed eight
nationalities, amongst them the Jews. But it was rescinded later that year by
the first freely elected parliament. Work immediately started on its successor,
which was to become the 1993 Act. But during drafting, the then Israeli
ambassador, David Kraus, managed to gain the support of the Jewish community in
Hungary to prevent the establishment of a recognised Jewish nationality.
"There are an estimated 100,000 Jews living in Hungary today, only 12,000 of
whom regard themselves as religiously Jewish, according to the most recent
census," said Gabor Deak, one of the people behind the latest petition. He has
been working since the end of the 80s to have the Jews recognised as a minority
nationality. He added that he was an atheist, but he had told the census
officer that he was a believer to strengthen the Jewish community. He argues
that even the non-religious should discover their Jewish identity - and a
recognised Jewish national minority would be the best way to achieve this.
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