As Hungarian Conservative previously reported, Machne Chabad, a kosher rescue camp, was established by EMIH, the Chabad-affiliated Jewish Federation of Hungary, to give shelter to 250 Ukrainian refugees who were affected by the Russo-Ukrainian war. The 180,000 sqm (45-acre) camp was built in collaboration with the Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine, and with the support of the Hungarian government, at the site of a former Communist holiday resort on the scenic shore of Lake Balaton.
After Hamas brutally attacked Israel on 7 October, the Jewish refugee camp was converted into a safe haven for Israeli Jews who wanted to escape with their families from the horrors of war. The camp now houses around 250 people, including 100 children, most of whom have fled from Israel since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
Israeli Refugee: ‘Coming to Hungary is Such Unimaginable Relief’
The Times of Israel tells of Zusha Pletnyov’s story, a man who had to move to Kyviv from his home, the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk in 2014 when Russian-backed rebels seized large swaths of eastern Ukraine. Eventually, Pletnyov had to flee again, this time to Israel, when Russia invaded Ukraine in February of last year.
An observant 34-year-old Jew, Pletnyov moved with his wife and five children to Ashkelon, just miles from the Gaza Strip, hoping they could build a new life there. When Hamas terrorists from Gaza broke through the border on 7 October and massacred some 1,400 people in their homes, at an outdoor music festival, and in army bases, a rocket fired from Hamas hit their apartment in Ashkelon, so they were forced to flee their homes for the third time again, now to a camp for Jewish refugees in rural Hungary. Pletnyov said
‘Coming here for me and for my wife is such unimaginable relief. It’s a comforting place to be.’
Deutsche Welle (DW) recently published a video report titled ‘Amid Israel-Hamas war, Israelis fleeing to Hungary’ about the Hungarian kosher refugee camp in which another story similar to Pletnyov’s was portrayed. Mendel Moskovitz escaped Eastern Ukraine with his family last year, and found a new home in Israel, only to find himself in another war.
Moskovitz highlighted in the video report that ‘Jews have been evacuated, Jews have been expelled from their home countries many, many, many times over and unfortunately, there’s a famous saying that history repeats itself. We would love to believe that the world is a better place than it used to be, but unfortunately, we do see that we are seeing a big rise in antisemitism right now all over the world.’
Hungarian Government Ban on Anti-Israeli Protests Created a Sense of Safety Among Jewish People
As the video report explains, although Hungary had a dark past of antisemitism, over ten years ago, the Hungarian government introduced a zero-tolerance policy towards anti-Jewish discrimination. The video report highlighted that the Hungarian government also banned all anti-Israeli protests, as they usually lead to violence against Jewish people. As Hungarian Conservative reported, the banning was announced by Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán one day before 13 October 2023, which was called by Hamas the ‘World Jihad Day’ or ‘Day of Rage’. He justified the ban by saying ‘all Hungarian citizens should feel safe, regardless of their faith or origin.’
Chief Rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH) Slomó Köves also pointed out in DW’s report that banning pro-Palestinian protests that support Hamas helps to create a sense of safety among Hungarian Jewish people. The rabbi added that ‘Hungary has in its society some level of anti-Semitic attitudes, unfortunately just like most societies in the world, but there’s almost no physical attacks on Jewish institutions or are no physical atrocities.’
Róbert Frölich, Hungarian Chief Rabbi and retired Brigadier General, the Hungarian Defence Forces’ first chief military rabbi chaplain, also highlighted in an interview with Index that Budapest and Hungary as a whole is an island of peace for Hungarian Jews.
The Chief Rabbi reminded all that there have been no flag burnings and no throwing of stones in Budapest, thanks to the Hungarian government,
which has not allowed any anti-Israel protests to be held.
Pro-Palestinian rallies throughout Western countries created an atmosphere of fear among Jewish people as, instead of empathy and support after what Israel had to go through since 7 October, a large number of violent masses are calling for the complete eradication of the Jewish state, chanting anti-Semitic slogans like ‘gas the Jews’ or ‘rape their daughters’, mark Jewish homes by Stars of David, vandalize Jewish stores, dishonour the memory of victims and tear down posters of Israeli Jewish babies, children, women, men, and elderly who were brutally taken from their loved ones and have been held hostage by Hamas for more than 40 days.
These kinds of violent pro-Palestinian rallies throughout Western countries showed why the Western world should follow the example of countries like Hungary, which chose to send a clear message to its Jewish communities, and create a sense of security for them as well, by banning these violent anti-Israeli protests.