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This report is taken from PN Review 77, Volume 17 Number 3, January - February 1991.

Letter from Hungary Philip Balla
In a recent issue of Magyar Napló, the bi-weekly journal of the Hungarian writers' association, Péter Esterhazy's front-page story made fun of a situation which has been the most sensitive one in the nation's political and cultural life over the past year.

Esterhazy described waking up one morning, too restless to lie in or to begin his day. So he picked up the phone and made a few calls. He called his Jewish friends - writers, intellectuals, that sort - and told them what he heard the gentiles were now saying against them. Next, he called his non-Jewish friends to report similar gossip coming from the Jews. Finally, confident that all of Budapest was buzzing with new grievances and recrimination, he was able to go back to bed and enjoy a peaceful sleep.

Esterhazy, a scion of one of the great land-owning families in the days of imperial Hungary, when the nation was three times its present size, is definitely not Jewish. Most of the members and supporters of SDS are not Jewish, either - SDS being the anglicized acronym for the Szabad Democrata Szövetseg, the Alliance for Free Democrats, which is nevertheless perceived as a Jewish party in Hungarian politics. SDS in mid-October 1989 won the mayoralty contest in Budapest with its candidate Gábor Demszky, who under the communists was frequently arrested and beaten by the police for his underground press activities. SDS won virtually all of Budapest. Its main opposition, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, won ...


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