Jew-hatred seems most virulent in countries where national extinction is a palpable presence on the horizon, and almost nonexistent in countries confident of their own futures. Anti-Semitism is relatively rare in the United States, India, and China. Hungary among the Western nations is the least likely to succeed, and correspondingly the least hospitable towards Jews. Last year a member of parliament for the Jobbik Party, Zsolt Baráth, revived the 1882 Tiszaeszlár blood libel against Hungary’s Jews — the allegation that Jews slaughtered a 14-year-old girl to obtain blood to make Passover matzos. The Jewish defendants were acquitted of the preposterous charges, but Baráth “claimed the judge had proof of the defendants’ guilt but succumbed to pressure to acquit them to avoid seeing Hungary bankrupted by international financiers,” as the AP reported on April 5, 2012. To the rest of the civilized world, it stamps you indelibly as evil clowns.
Some months before the incident I visited Budapest, a city that seems inhabited by more statues than people. It was built as an imperial capital to rule an area of 25 million people, but now serves a country of fewer than 10 million. It is more mausoleum than metropolis, filled with marble images of long-forgotten heroes of independence battles that soon will pass out of human memory. In some ways, that is a shame. The stuffed carp in aspic with a cherry-and-horseradish sauce served at one of the town’s two surviving kosher restaurants is a revelation to Jews who have suffered with the insipid paste claiming to be gefilte fish. Except for the stuffed carp, Budapest is one of the most depressing venues in the world, a reminder of generations of past suffering and obsession that have come to naught.
The latest Hungarian census shows that more than half of Hungarian families have no children (against a fifth in the United States). A quarter of families have just one child, and just 15% have two. The proportion of dependent elderly rose to 38% from 32.5%. And Hungary’s terrible slide into demographic extinction has just begun.
Under the circumstances, it’s also no surprise that Hungary has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, at 21 per 100,000 of population per year.
Fertility vs. Suicide Rates
Hungary is at the extreme end of the fertility scale and almost at the top of the suicide tables (other demographically challenged countries — Belarus, Japan, Russia, and Ukraine — come in just ahead). We encounter Israel at the extreme opposite corner of the chart, with the lowest suicide rate in the industrial world and the highest fertility rate. By these objective criteria, Israel loves life more than any nation on earth. Your hatred stems from the rancor that the dying bear against the living.
Your misery is entirely your own fault. I am not asking you to change your minds. If you had minds capable of changing you wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with. Don’t commit suicide. Stick around to watch your own cultural decline. Your death will have all the greater finality if you wait long enough to see your culture expire around you. Just remind the last person left in Budapest to turn out the lights. And send us a postcard with the recipe for stuffed carp with cherry-horseradish sauce. We’d like something to remember you by.