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The Rise of the "Jewish Question" in a Populist Ethnic Nationalistic Regime


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This paper examines whether the re-emergence of the “Jewish Question” in the 2010-2016 Hungarian public discourse has also re-surfaced the “us” and “them” distinction between Hungarians and Jews that has lain dormant within the Hungarian population, and whether this symbolic exclusion of Jews from the Hungarian nation creates new, additional Jewish and quasi-Jewish groups as “others”, to be lumped together with the “other others”. The paper was submitted in 2016 and therefore does not cover the discussions around the openly antisemitic 2018 election campain’s discourse. The paper makes two main claims. The first is that the state “protectively” treats Hungarian Jews as a distinct group, as a community that is distinguished by its “otherness”, separated from the “us” of the national narrative. The second claim is that an “out-grouped other”, which does not identify with the government’s concept of an ethnic nation, is depicted with stereotypes that historically described Jews, regardless of their background, origins or religion. As populist, ethnic nationalism is being resurrected in Europe, the following questions arise: How can affiliated Hungarian Jews and “outed”, “non-Jewish Jews” take part in a nation that rhetorically excludes them while cynically attempting to promote their (Jewish) separateness in a seemingly positive manner? Why is this separation important and perhaps even dangerous? And how can Hungarians (who are cast as Jewish) credibly participate in Hungary’s internal and external politics and democracy?It is argued that the current “Jewish Question” debate in Hungary after 2010 may have less to do with actual Jews and more to do with creating the populist fiction of a homogeneous, isolated, ethnic nation, reminiscent of the ethnic nationalist concepts championed during the 1920s and 1930s with tragic consequences.




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Link to download in university repository, The Rise of the "Jewish Question" in a Populist Ethnic Nationalistic Regime

Bibliographic Information

Vincze, Kata Zsófia The Rise of the "Jewish Question" in a Populist Ethnic Nationalistic Regime. Always Hungarian: Hungarian Jewry through the Vicissitudes of the Modern Era. Bar Ilan University Press. 2021:  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-2978