Israel owes its survival to having always defended its territory and protected its people, a government official said at the opening of an exhibition marking the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence in Bonyhád, in southern Hungary, on Tuesday.
Árpád János Potápi, state secretary in charge of Hungarian communities abroad, said Israel’s history served as an example to those who question Hungary’s insistence on protecting its history and culture. The Israeli people have protected their culture for the past 2,000-3,000 years and continue to do so to this day, Potápi said.
He said Hungary’s history between 1939 and 1957 “makes one think if our survival had been a miracle”.
In addition to the one million soldiers lost and a further one million imprisoned during the second world war, some 600,000 Hungarian Jews were exterminated. After the war another half a million people were deported and one million imprisoned, he said. In 1956, 220,000 people emigrated from the country, the state secretary added.
“Those who are still here will do everything to make sure this country can survive over the coming centuries, too, and be a home to all nationalities and religions,” he said.
Jossi Amrani, Israel’s Ambassador to Hungary, said the relationship between Hungary and Israel was closer than ever before and that it would only get stronger. He called Hungary’s Jewish community “one of the many bridges” connecting the two countries.