Israelis feel safe in this European capital
In the complex landscape of Israel’s international relations during the war, Hungary proved to be a solid ally, consistently offering diplomatic support and fostering mutual ties. Over the past year this alliance has only strengthened and marked an important chapter in the diplomatic history of the two countries.In 2023, Hungary continued its unwavering support for Israel on various fronts, showing solidarity in times of geopolitical challenges. While many countries engaged in discussions and attempts to reconcile the parties, Hungary firmly stood by Israel’s right to defend itself against threats to its security, and condemned the indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by Hamas on Israeli cities.

Furthermore, Hungary’s support for Israel extends beyond relations on international platforms. Hungary has consistently defended Israel’s interests in world forums, advocates fair treatment and challenges biased decisions. Whether in the United Nations or the European Union, Hungary is a vocal supporter of Israel, and amplifies its voice on the world stage.

Already at the beginning of the war in Israel, Hungary announced that it would not allow demonstrations supporting “terrorist organizations”, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in October, adding that all Hungarian citizens should feel safe, regardless of their faith or origin. “It’s shocking that there are sympathy rallies supporting terrorists across Europe,” Orban said, referring to the huge demonstrations that took place in the first month of the war. In fact, Budapest, the capital of Hungary, became one of the quietest cities in this respect on the continent, without large demonstrations or anti-Israel protests.

It is important to note that, similar to Prague in the Czech Republic, which is also one of the safest cities for Israelis, Hungary’s anti-immigration policy has led to the fact that there are approximately 8,000 Muslims in the country – less than one percent of the entire country’s population. In the case of Hungary, where the Muslim population is small compared to other European countries, the matter may shape perceptions and interactions with Israel in several ways, often creating positive perceptions.

“The war made the city more pleasant – everywhere you hear Hebrew”

For years now, Budapest has been a central and popular destination for Israeli tourists: ten flights connect the Hungarian capital with Israel on normal days. Even during the war, and perhaps even more so, Budapest was given the status of a safe destination for travelers from Israel, when, unlike other European cities, it is not included in the travel warnings of the MAL.

 

“There is no anti-Semitism there at all like in other places in the world. We were not afraid to speak Hebrew at all, we did not even shy away from Hebrew,” says Shir who returned yesterday from a trip to Budapest with her husband. “There are places where you are afraid to speak Hebrew, but here we spoke normally and loudly. There were full of Israelis and I felt as if I was in Israel. Even in the square that is now called October 7, there is no fear, no anti-Semitism and you feel free. I didn’t even see graffiti or anything like ‘fruit of Palestine’ In other cities in Europe. If I were to say where to fly in this period without fear – then only there.”

As Shir points out, the Budapest authorities chose to place a sign in the square opposite the city’s Great Synagogue, indicating that the name of the square is “October 7th”. In fact, this is a temporary mark that was supposed to last for about two weeks, but as of today, the sign is still placed in the square and commemorates the Israeli victims of the war. The original name of the square is “Theodor Herzl”, the founder of Zionism.

“This is my second time in Budapest and last time I didn’t feel the Israelis like this time. Apparently the war made the city much more pleasant for Israelis compared to other places,” says Adi, who returned last week from a trip to Budapest with her partner. “We saw a lot of signs in Hebrew and Israeli flags and we never once saw a Palestinian flag. Everywhere you hear Hebrew, there are stickers in Hebrew of the abductees and things about the war. Even when we left the city and walked through a small town, the acquaintances spoke to us in Hebrew because they recognized that we were Israelis and told us that they supported us Everywhere we went they welcomed us with joy and we were really not afraid to say that we were Israelis, which unfortunately is not something that can be said about many cities in Europe in the last year.”

By Editor

Leave a Reply