“There was just this ever growing spiral of hatred, I worked hard to be a real racist. I read about it, studied it, and became one,” he says.
In 2001, when Szegedi embarked on a degree in history at Budapest University, he began to formalise his association with the nationalist cause through activism on the Far Right.
But had he ever actually met a Jew?
“Actually, there were a couple of Jewish students on my course and they were OK. We went to parties together,” he says. “But anti-Semitism isn’t about the Jewish people, it’s about the anti-Semite. The anti-Semite is projecting his own fears.”
Relevant on BackChannels: “Paranoid Delusional Narcissistic Reflection of Motivation“.
Add a little more data about an unbridle, perhaps juvenile, narcissism: “Syriamania – Rock and Roll!”
As comprehension of the anti-Semite improves worldwide — anti-Semitic activity and expression has never appeared from “out of the blue”: it has been formulated, driven and promoted, and used to abet theft by despots through the ages — our awareness of another facet in the life of our gregarious species may become more cogent: we humans get around (and it’s healthy that we do so). Csanad Szegedi, however dramatic his story, joins many others (Christopher Hitchens and Madeleine Albright come most readily to mind) who discovered their Jewish heritage while far along in their adult lives.
In 1987, when Christopher Hitchens discovered at age 38 that he was Jewish, he was, as he later wrote “pleased to find that I was pleased.” The discovery moved the atheist to contact the only rabbi he knew personally to explore what he might be missing. His meetings with Rabbi Robert Goldburg didn’t shake Hitchens from his unbelief. But, as he wrote in a 1998 essay, it did prompt him to think that Judaism “might turn out to be the most ethically sophisticated tributary of humanism.”
I’m very proud of my Czechoslovak background, but my identity the way I describe it now: I am an American, I am a mother, I am a grandmother, I am a Democrat, I came from Jewish heritage, I was a Roman Catholic, I am a practicing Episcopalian, I am somebody who is devoted to human rights, I am somebody who believes in an international community and I can’t separate those things. … I can trace these various parts as having a profound influence on me in one form or another.
Kessel, Barbara. Suddenly Jewish: Jews Raised as Gentiles Discover Their Jewish Roots. Waltham, Massachusetts: Brandeis University Press, 2000. Aish has a review by Rabbi Berel Wein (October 19, 2002). From the Google Books page:
One woman learned on the eve of her Roman Catholic wedding. One man as he was studying for the priesthood. Madeleine Albright famously learned from the Washington Post when she was named Secretary of State.
“What is it like to find out you are not who you thought you were?” asks Barbara Kessel in this compelling volume, based on interviews with over 160 people who were raised as non-Jews only to learn at some point in their lives that they are of Jewish descent. With humor, candor, and deep emotion, Kessel’s subjects discuss the emotional upheaval of refashioning their self-image and, for many, coming to terms with deliberate deception on the part of parents and family. Responses to the discovery of a Jewish heritage ranged from outright rejection to wholehearted embrace.
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