As we do every summer, me and my family make our trip all the way from Jerusalem to Budapest, Hungary.
As probably everyone in Israel knows by now, Hungary is not precisely the most democratically savvy country. Still, until now, that was almost undiscoverable if you were simply out and about on the streets. The only thing that pointed to obvious flaws in the country was ridiculously propagandistic lies in the form of giant posters. Their subjects are certainly familiar to the readers of this newspaper. George (or György in Hungarian) Soros, who else, right?
But that was years ago, and now problems are getting brought out to the streets.
It started last year, as Hungarian teachers groaned at the sight of their ever-lowering salaries and ever-growing responsibilities and work hours.
With our government as careless and malicious, as it is, the responsibility of advocating for overworked and severely underpaid teachers tragically fell to school children.
Student-led protests are usually the most visceral, as students usually fight for their chance at their futures to be, if not better, then at least not worse than their parents’ were.
But the Hungarian government excels at not caring about its citizens’ problems at all. It’s staggering when you see it for the first time. It sounds ridiculous, but next to Orbán, Bibi seems like a caring statesman who does everything in his power to help his citizens get their way. All year round, for years, the Hungarian Prime Minister has done nothing. If anything, he makes things worse for his already badly situated voters. Despite this, similarly to Erdogan, not only does he win every time, he wins big, which can be attributed to several of his schemes and tactics. To call it disturbingly disheartening is a gross understatement.
The Hungarian Forint’s inflation is the worst in the entire EU. It makes me angry to have to see my grandmother, who must still work to this day, have to worry about what she can afford when she goes to the local market.
In just about every way a representative democracy can fail, Hungary has failed.
Consequently, middle and high school students lead protests to get their schools and their teachers sufficient funding, while being aware of the fact that every uprising in modern Hungarian history has failed and/or was silenced.
Schoolchildren shouldn’t have to know anything about politics, let alone have to participate in it.
While there isn’t a correlation, it sure is interesting that Budapest’s ‘Freedom Square’, which features mostly World War II and Holocaust memorials, has a statue of Ronald Reagan of all people as one of its side pieces.
A middle class was present before both Orbán and Reagan’s governments, which they succeeded in erasing in a relatively short time.
As desperation reigns, students are the only fighters this country has got.
I dedicate this to liberal Israelis and Americans, who believe all is lost. It’s not, trust me. As long as I can remember, Hungary has been in this position, and not only did the situation not improve, it objectively got worse and worse.
If your only worry about Israel is Bibi and His Friends, trust me, the situation will improve.
If your only worry about the US is Trump or DeSantis, move on, it’ll be fine.
The ‘rise of fascism’ in your country is not a new thing, it has always been that way, you just haven’t been paying attention, or maybe, they are finally coming after you too, which in the past has never happened.