Two views on today’s Hungary: Al Jazeera and Dokuworld 2013 (Germany)

Hungary’s liberal world is buzzing with news of the documentary shown on Al Jazeera, an independent television station broadcasting from Doha, Qatar.

I received the following from our friend S.K. this morning:

Unexpected irony from an unexpected corner: Hungary on Al Jazeera

The neo-Nazi Jobbik party is known for its frequent sympathy demonstrations towards Arabs and specifically towards the Palestinians, using this as a cover to express their anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments, if not hatred. This was surprising at first, but due to the relentless repetition, has become customary by now, at least to the Hungarian public. This is why it strikes me as a most unexpected and profound irony that the Al Jazeera network, Arab-owned and financed, operating throughout the world, devoted a twenty-five minute long documentary to depict Hungary’s state of affairs a few days ago.

The piece doesn’t need much commentary at all; it speaks for itself most eloquently. The only surprising thing about it is the thoroughness and depth of the insight the filmmakers were able to muster during their very short time spent in the country. And, of course, how ironic it is that even the Arabs, who are enjoying the dubious “patronage” of Fidesz and Jobbik, can see through the screen of government propaganda and skullduggery, and present the facts concisely, irrefutably and devastatingly.

Anyone with any doubt about the fatal developments in Hungary should urgently view this report and take it to heart.

I can only send my thanks and congratulations to Glenn Ellis, the maker of the film, for this remarkable work.

Unfortunately WordPress.com in its current configuration is unable to embed this video, but I urge everybody to take a look at it. It is in English and lasts only twenty-five minutes.

Those who know German can view another documentary on Hungary, part of a series called Dokuworld 2013. Even those whose German is not fluent but who know the present Hungarian situation will enjoy its summary of the growth of the far right in the country and Fidesz’s ambivalent attitude toward democracy. More and more foreign observers consider Hungary a country that is quickly slipping into one-party dictatorship.

For those who’ve had enough of a weighty subject on a holiday weekend in the U.S., here’s some news about the “Are you free for a dance?” extravaganza. Although the event in Budapest and in other larger cities is still going on, early reports have already appeared online. If I read these reports correctly, Miklós Soltész’s brainchild is a colossal flop. The few people who showed up are not youngsters looking for spouses. Rather curious old folks. Professional dancers demonstrated the steps, but when invited to join in, the few people there fled.

A number of “provocateurs” also wanted to attend, but the police originally didn’t want to let them in. They wore signs like “Hello, I’m X.Y. I’m looking for a squire with a large landholding or for an owner of a tobacconist shop.” The authorities eventually relented. There were others who decided to dance with people of their own sex after they learned that Soltész announced that gays are welcome. All in all, those who were bent on making fun of this whole harebrained idea seem to have prevailed.

At the height of the excitement at the "national mixer" in Budapest / cink.hu

The height of the excitement at the “national mixer” in Budapest / cink.hu

In Szeged the situation was even worse. There the reporter of the newspaper Délmagyarország did not see a single person who was looking for a dance partner. There were only a few children and their curious grandparents. If these party hacks just knew how ridiculous they are.  But I guess they live in a world of their own and refuse to see reality. I wonder how long it will take them to wake up to the fact that their activities are injurious even to their own cause.

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40 comments

  1. I am not surprised at Al Jazeera. With it’s English version it is hoping to interest intelligent people to watch it’s documentations, therefore the journalist had absolute freedom to make his film about Hungary. When it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict it is just giving propaganda. I watched yesterday it’s program about the Nakba (1948). It was just full of lies. For instance the statement: “Jews have driven 50.000 Arabs away from Haifa”. Al Jazeera cannot permit even in its English program a balanced view on that conflict. For if they cannot blame the Jews, whom else could the arab dictatorships nominate as scapegoats?

  2. @Karl

    What do you expect from the tiny but mighty Qatar that wholeheartedly espouses Sunni fundamentalism?

  3. I agreee with Karl Pfeifer. It is better to refrain from Al Jazera. It is a creation of an inept team.

    Just like the Pravda could present some truthful details, but the sum-total was a disgrace.

    On Jobbik, we should encourage local Hungarian teams to do the research.

    Perhaps Csanad Szeged would a competent report on the subject.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Csan%C3%A1d_Szegedi

    Very soon joined by Krisztina Morvay, when her background will be disclosed.

  4. I do not understand why one would object to Al-Jazeera being able to see through the hypocrisy of the right wing pretending to support the Palestinian cause.
    Furthermore, Judaism and Zionism are not the same thing.

  5. kamilla1960 :
    I do not understand why one would object to Al-Jazeera being able to see through the hypocrisy of the right wing pretending to support the Palestinian cause.
    Furthermore, Judaism and Zionism are not the same thing.

    IME, Al-Jazeera seems to twist situations to their own benefit and hype fringe points of view and fringe groups. So even if we don’t seen any factual errors in this completely one sided biased report, it is still useful propaganda in that it shows more western decadence.

  6. tappanch :
    @Karl
    What do you expect from the tiny but mighty Qatar that wholeheartedly espouses Sunni fundamentalism?

    Ahh, wonderful little Qatar–the joy of left-libs the world over. And they won
    the 2022 World Cup hosting site with a population of 250,000 and summer temps in the 50s. Gee, I wonder who engineered that…? Oh, you say that the Russians won for 2018 at the same meeting? And who ran against Qatar? USA. No contest, obviously.

    Mr. Blatter, “Ponyemaj Paruski?”

  7. @Petofi
    The population of Qatar is 2 million (0.5 million women and 1.5 million men !), but there are only 0.3 million citizens.

  8. I hope some people can view the world by applying a well educated humanistic moral.
    In that scope, there is no room for bombastic, lying, pretending journalism.
    Let us cultivate Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, London Times, New York Times, New Republic….

  9. Common now, Al Gore found Al-Jazeera to be a reputable news organization, that is why he sold his failing TV network to them, thus giving them a foothold in the US cable TV world. And who would doubt anything Al Gore says? After all he invented the Internet, without him you wouldn’t be able to read this…

    All jokes aside, it is my understanding that when the topic is not the Middle East, Al-Jazeera is quite a reliable news organization.

    However, during the 9/11 events it did broadcast some despicable material. But why be surprised about that, when I read even in a comment here, that all is not clear about those events. I think Al-Jazeera and other Arab sources spread the “news” that none of the Jews who worked at the World Trade Center came to work on 9/11, thus, obviously, the whole thing was a Jewish-CIA conspiracy…

  10. tappanch :
    @Petofi
    The population of Qatar is 2 million (0.5 million women and 1.5 million men !), but there are only 0.3 million citizens.

    Thanks. I don’t know where I got the other figure. Still, some hijinks to get the world cup, no? How many stadiums could they possibly have?

  11. @ gdfxx

    “I read even in a comment here, that all is not clear about those events.”

    Yes, that sent me, too. How people far for disinformation. Although the Russians are the world leaders in that, don’t think the CIA ain’t doing their level best to blacken the name of Kennedy…even now.

  12. Fidesz supporters would use ad hominem attacks on this site. They would say that Eva is an MSZP supporter, so you can’t trust a word coming from her Communist website.

    I should hope that readers of this site wouldn’t apply the same logic to an Arabic website.

    I hate the tribalism of the Fidesz and Jobbik crowd. But it is more depressing for me to see tribalism on the “left” side of Hungarian politics.

    Some of the top stories on Al-Jazeera as I write this are exposés on Ugandan press freedom and another supporting a larger role for women in the Vatican. I would say Al-Jazeera is more worldly than most readers of this site.

  13. Gardonista :
    Fidesz supporters would use ad hominem attacks on this site. They would say that Eva is an MSZP supporter, so you can’t trust a word coming from her Communist website.
    I should hope that readers of this site wouldn’t apply the same logic to an Arabic website.
    I hate the tribalism of the Fidesz and Jobbik crowd. But it is more depressing for me to see tribalism on the “left” side of Hungarian politics.
    Some of the top stories on Al-Jazeera as I write this are exposés on Ugandan press freedom and another supporting a larger role for women in the Vatican. I would say Al-Jazeera is more worldly than most readers of this site.

    And I would say that you are the type of ‘puritan’ that the Pavlovian masters of the FSB know so well. Plant a couple of well-meaning stories and you’ll extrapolate to extremes…

  14. Gardonista :
    I would say Al-Jazeera is more worldly than most readers of this site.

    You’re kidding right?

    All jokes aside, it is my understanding that when the topic is not the Middle East, Al-Jazeera is quite a reliable news organization.

    Their stories are often unbalanced which is the case with this particular piece. The facts maybe true but the whole piece is unbalanced.

  15. If one watches the first two minutes of the video, he will immediately note its inaccuracy on several issues. The filmmaker obviously came to Hungary not knowing anything about it other than the fact that Hungary was officially allied to Germany throughout the Second World War. The film is obviously trying to make Hungary look like a concoction of Germany during the War and North Korea today. It basically oversteps the boundary between reality and a PR war against a nation-state.

    If the author genuinely wanted to report on states where the Jews and other minorities are being harmed, he should’ve went to France, Sweden or the UK. How many Jews were killed in Hungary in recent years due to their religion/ethnicity? None. Can France provide that same statistic? I don’t think so. The Roma killings (aside from the fact that they happened under the previous regime, not this one, and its perpetrators were found guilty under this one), were an unfortunate event. However, they don’t remotely reflect the entire Hungarian nation’s attitude towards minorities. Statistically speaking, 9 out of 10 people convicted of crimes in Hungary are gypsies. Does that mean 90% of gypsies in Hungary are criminals? See how easy it is to throw around numbers like that and arrive at general conclusions, as the filmmaker does?

    If this film would just try to be a tiny bit less biased, it could be taken seriously. Interviewing outspoken critics of centre-right parties (some of those critics are supporters of communism) will obviously not reveal a very objective view of a country which is currently governed by a centre-right party. Congratulations, AJE, you used to be my favorite for lack of bias in the past, but you really messed up with this one.

  16. Re Firebird. Here we go again,”Outspoken critics of Fidesz, some of whom are supporters of communism!” Whom do you have in mind?

    What is a “PR war against a nation-state”? Why would anyone wage a war against Hungary? Because it is a nation-state?

    When the serial killings of Gypsies occurred is neither here nor there. By the way, you are wrong. There is still no verdict when the perpetrators were arrested more than four years ago.If you demand accuracy from others, be careful yourself with the facts.

  17. Beware!

    Firebird is a troll from pol.hu – there however he is an outspoken Hungo-Nazi imho …

    Maybe he tried to “eat chalk” – but he’s not really successful!

    PS:

    I just coined this term “Hungo-Nazi” for a certain kind of people who are:

    Racist, antisemites, homophobes, fond of “Christian values” from two or three hundred years ago, strong supporters of Horthy and Greater Hungary – and at the same time claim:

    It was all the German’s fault – we were forced to participate in the war, the killing of the Jews, the Roma and the partisans …

    And of course their favourite line is :

    Antisemitism/the situation of the Roma/problem with democratic institutions/law making in (enter your favourite country here …) is much worse than in Hungary!

  18. Thanks for the info on Firebird: I was just about to land on him with both my size 11s.
    Of course, he was immediately suspect with this statement:
    “…to report on states where jews and other minorities are being harmed”. Well, I won’t have to parse that nonsense now.

    These officially-trained trolls are quite sneaky. Note that the pointing finger on France alludes to their Islamist population. The logic goes like this: ‘ They have many islamists. Those people are anti-semitic. Hungary has few islamists, hence there is little real anti-semitism.’ Neat. The problem is, Hungarian ‘gyulolet’ (hatred) for jews is a time-honored tradition…

  19. I know my last will make the hair stand on the necks of ‘patriotic’ Hungarians…but really, with Laszlo Csatary on the loose, still…after a year and a half…with nary a sound from the good citizens…What do Hungarians deserve?

  20. @Firebird

    “If one watches the first two minutes of the video, he will immediately note its inaccuracy on several issues.”

    This type of statement does not convince anybody on this blog. At least three specific examples of inaccuracy taken from the first two minutes of the film would be required to justify your claim.

    “The filmmaker obviously came to Hungary not knowing anything about it other than the fact that Hungary was officially allied to Germany throughout the Second World War.”

    The fact is that Hungary was allied to Germany not “officially” allied to Germany.

    “The film is obviously trying to make Hungary look like a concoction of Germany during the War and North Korea today.”

    Not obvious to me. The film is trying to make Hungary look like what meets the eye.

    “It basically oversteps the boundary between reality and a PR war against a nation-state”.

    The film is a chain of authentic videos. There is no such thing as a nation-state. A state is a state.

    “If the author genuinely wanted to report on states where the Jews and other minorities are being harmed, he should’ve went to France, Sweden or the UK. How many Jews were killed in Hungary in recent years due to their religion/ethnicity? None. Can France provide that same statistic? I don’t think so.”

    It seems that the author wanted to report on Hungary, not on France, Sweden or the UK. The latter countries get ample coverage in the world press. Hungary does not.

    “The Roma killings (aside from the fact that they happened under the previous regime, not this one, and its perpetrators were found guilty under this one), were an unfortunate event. However, they don’t remotely reflect the entire Hungarian nation’s attitude towards minorities.”

    The Hungarian constitution reflects the “Hungarian nation’s” negative attitude towards minorities.

    “Statistically speaking, 9 out of 10 people convicted of crimes in Hungary are gypsies. Does that mean 90% of gypsies in Hungary are criminals? See how easy it is to throw around numbers like that and arrive at general conclusions, as the filmmaker does?”

    Look up “syllogism” in Google and learn how to make a good one.

    “If this film would just try to be a tiny bit less biased, it could be taken seriously. Interviewing outspoken critics of centre-right parties (some of those critics are supporters of communism) will obviously not reveal a very objective view of a country which is currently governed by a centre-right party. Congratulations, AJE, you used to be my favourite for lack of bias in the past, but you really messed up with this one.”

    There is no law in any civilised country against biased reporting. In Hungary there is a law against biased reporting. Therefore …..

    Reference on biased writing
    E. Zola, J’accuse.

  21. ‘Hungary’s march to facism’. Unfortunately, even HS supports this view. Political discussions here on the various TV channels are far more lively and intelligent than anything you might get on CNN, for example. Only the PBS comes close, all else is entertainment-news in the US. The emergence of Jobbik is unfortunate but only 16% support that party. I still think that HS is out of focus, not a good source of information on Hungary, the 2000 Epistles by Eva not withstanding.

  22. Joe Simon :
    ‘Hungary’s march to facism’. Unfortunately, even HS supports this view. Political discussions here on the various TV channels are far more lively and intelligent than anything you might get on CNN, for example. Only the PBS comes close, all else is entertainment-news in the US. The emergence of Jobbik is unfortunate but only 16% support that party. I still think that HS is out of focus, not a good source of information on Hungary, the 2000 Epistles by Eva not withstanding.

    Joe Simon :
    ‘Hungary’s march to facism’. Unfortunately, even HS supports this view. Political discussions here on the various TV channels are far more lively and intelligent than anything you might get on CNN, for example. Only the PBS comes close, all else is entertainment-news in the US. The emergence of Jobbik is unfortunate but only 16% support that party. I still think that HS is out of focus, not a good source of information on Hungary, the 2000 Epistles by Eva not withstanding.

    (Hi, Joe. Are the checks coming in steady?)

    “…only 16% support Jobbik..” Really? What is most depressing is that a recent survey showed that 37% of university-aged young support Jobbik. Makes you stop.

    But Jobbik is a ‘front’ anyway: they’re the experiment on which Fidesz follows up–

  23. Joe Simon, I think you need new glasses, then you may see what is in and what is out of focus.

    As far as the 16% is concerned, 16% of the population voted on Jobbik, but with people like Kover and Bayer in the leadership of FIDESZ (and their words speak for themselves), with the new FIDESZ-led Horthy-cult (what a word;-), with a FIDESZ-led inclusion of Nazi writers in the national curriculum one has to conclude that many parts of Jobbik’s program is accepted by the FIDESZ crowd.

  24. I think Eva you are making a very point. If even Al Jazeera does support an article/docu about Hungary on their website about a subject that is in support of the jewish people, the Hungarian government is certainly not doing their job. As far as Morvai’s opinion to be published… I would say if Morvai would post an article in support of the jewish population in Hungary versus the government, tat would be something to quote too.
    I am missing the point why should we dismiss Al Jazeera’s opinion in this.
    ———–

    I certainly share one of the reader’s’ opinion on this blog regarding extremism… It is as disturbing on the side of the right as on the side of the left. It is like the white terror or the white terror, decent people cannot support any of these.

  25. Joe Simon: I think it is you who are not the “good source of information” about Hungary or about the USA. First of all what do you have to do with the USA? Second, Do you think 16% support (as you state) of the Jobbik should not cause any alarm? I hope Eva will never-ever give up on reporting how much the Jobbik can be part of amy decent Hungarian person’s life.

  26. @Some1 “I am missing the point why should we dismiss Al Jazeera’s opinion in this.”

    I don’t understand it either. This documentary happens to be perceptive and surprisingly complete.

  27. @Some 1

    “Decent People”…would not stand by while their government harbors a convicted war criminal–Laszlo Csatary–for over a year.

  28. petofi :

    @Some 1

    “Decent People”…would not stand by while their government harbors a convicted war criminal–Laszlo Csatary–for over a year.

    Clearly, they are waiting for him to die. Although there are some people who claim that Csatáry was actually small potato. I think here of such Holocaust historian László Karsai. Or, Krisztián Ungváry. Regardless, one should investigate his role. Period.

  29. Joe Simon :
    ‘Hungary’s march to facism’. Unfortunately, even HS supports this view. Political discussions here on the various TV channels are far more lively and intelligent than anything you might get on CNN, for example. Only the PBS comes close, all else is entertainment-news in the US. The emergence of Jobbik is unfortunate but only 16% support that party. I still think that HS is out of focus, not a good source of information on Hungary, the 2000 Epistles by Eva not withstanding.

    Yet, HS is a very important tool.

  30. Meanwhile on Planet Hungary … the clowns are out.

    Miklos Soltesz, undersecretary of social and family affairs explaining the raging success of these balls. Showing us that even the anarchists of Gordon Bajnai could not take away the fun.

    The good parts start at 1:30 when he says the Hungarian people don’t protest on the day of Pentecost, they celebrate …

    Make sure the CC (closed caption) button is on to see the English subs.

  31. Eva S. Balogh :

    petofi :
    @Some 1
    “Decent People”…would not stand by while their government harbors a convicted war criminal–Laszlo Csatary–for over a year.

    Clearly, they are waiting for him to die. Although there are some people who claim that Csatáry was actually small potato. I think here of such Holocaust historian László Karsai. Or, Krisztián Ungváry. Regardless, one should investigate his role. Period.

    But he’s obviously getting state support.. or at least the video made it appear that way.

  32. Eva S. Balogh :

    petofi :
    @Some 1
    “Decent People”…would not stand by while their government harbors a convicted war criminal–Laszlo Csatary–for over a year.

    Clearly, they are waiting for him to die. Although there are some people who claim that Csatáry was actually small potato. I think here of such Holocaust historian László Karsai. Or, Krisztián Ungváry. Regardless, one should investigate his role. Period.

    So where are the investigative reporters on this story?
    How did Csatary get a passport? Where is he being kept? Why are they harboring him?

    Hungarian ‘invetigative reporting’ is cream-puffian.

  33. This was broadcast on the UK channel 4 station tonight, no doubt there will be an indignant reply from all the regime’s apologists for fascism shortly. More pertinently this should have been the kind of report that the world’s leading independent news broadcaster, the BBC should have been doing. The fact that the BBC’s man here, Nick Thorpe has close family and friend connections with the Orban regime is an undoubted asset for Fidesz in the worldwide propaganda war:

    http://www.channel4.com/news/hungary-jobbik-far-right-militias-jewish-congress

  34. Dear fellow readers,

    Are there other parliaments where the Speaker can

    1. forbid parliamentary questioning by opposition MPs (Szanyi was banned for the second time)

    2. fine opposition MPs for what they say in the chambers? (numerous fines by Speaker Kover since March)

  35. Just a short list of leadership, violating principles of humanity: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrein, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Hungary….

    Some are running ambitious misinformation campaigns to gain access to the West, or to confuse domestic and international opposition.

  36. Mutt :
    Meanwhile on Planet Hungary … the clowns are out.
    Miklos Soltesz, undersecretary of social and family affairs explaining the raging success of these balls. Showing us that even the anarchists of Gordon Bajnai could not take away the fun.
    The good parts start at 1:30 when he says the Hungarian people don’t protest on the day of Pentecost, they celebrate …
    Make sure the CC (closed caption) button is on to see the English subs.

    Thanks for the subtitle, Mutt!
    His face when he said that the programme was a success, did he blink?

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