Leopards can change their spots!

In a fascinating article by former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks he takes time to explain the importance of morality and that the best way to counter Antisemitism is to get such people to experience what it is like to be a Jew:

‘Jobbik, otherwise known as the Movement for a Better Hungary, is an ultra-nationalist Hungarian political party that has been described as fascist, neo-Nazi, racist, and Antisemitic.

 It has accused Jews of being part of a “cabal of western economic interests” attempting to control the world: the libel otherwise known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fiction created by members of the Czarist secret service in Paris in the late 1890s and revealed as a forgery by The Times in 1921.

On one occasion the Jobbik party asked for a list of all the Jews in the Hungarian government. Disturbingly, in the Hungarian parliamentary elections in April 2014 it secured over 20 per cent of the votes, making it the third largest party.

Until 2012 one of its leading members was a politician in his late 20s, Csanad Szegedi. Szegedi was a rising star in the movement, widely spoken of as its future leader. Until one day in 2012. That was the day Szegedi discovered he was a Jew.

Some of the members of the party had wanted to stop his progress and spent time investigating his background to see whether they could find anything that would do him damage. What they found was that his maternal grandmother was a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz. So was his maternal grandfather. Half of Szegedi’s family were killed during the Holocaust.

Szegedi’s opponents started spreading rumours about his Jewish ancestry on the internet. Soon Szegedi himself discovered what was being said and decided to check whether the claims were true. They were. After Auschwitz his grandparents, once Orthodox Jews, decided to hide their identity completely. When his mother was 14, her father told her the secret but ordered her not to reveal it to anyone. Szegedi now knew the truth about himself.

He decided to resign from the party and find out more about Judaism. He went to a local Chabad Rabbi, Slomó Köves, who at first thought he was joking. Nonetheless he arranged for Szegedi to attend classes on Judaism and to come to the synagogue. At first, Szegedi says, people were shocked. He was treated by some as “a leper.” But he persisted. Today he attends synagogue, keeps Shabbat, has learned Hebrew, calls himself Dovid, and in 2013 underwent circumcision.

When he first admitted the truth about his Jewish ancestry, one of his friends in the Jobbik party said, “The best thing would be if we shoot you so you can be buried as a pure Hungarian.” Another urged him to make a public apology. It was this comment, he says, that made him leave the party. “I thought, wait a minute, I am supposed to apologize for the fact that my family was killed at Auschwitz?”

As the realization that he was a Jew began to change his life, it also transformed his understanding of the world. Today, he says, his focus as a politician is to defend human rights for everyone. “I am aware of my responsibility and I know I will have to make it right in the future.”

Szegedi’s story is not just a curiosity. It takes us to the very heart of the strange, fraught nature of our existence as moral beings.’

Take time to read the full amazing story by following the link.

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