Subject: Hate ....... From: Charles Sumner ... 5/9/94

Free to Hate: The Rise of the Right in Post-Communist Eastern Europe

by Paul Hockenus, Routledge, 332 pps., $25.00

"Anti-Semitism is alive and flourishing throughout Eastern Europe even in the virtual absence of Jews," says Berlin-based journalist Paul Hockenus. Russia and Romania have the "most rabid and open" anti-Semites and ultranationalists in a region where the Jewish population was decimated by the Holocaust. Opinion polls throughout the new democracies, which promptly recognized Israel after the fall of their Communist governments, show between one-fifth and one-half the people harboring anti- Jewish sentiments.

Hockenus concentrates on Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland in this account. He says that anti-Semitism still remains firm in culturally backward and economically stagnant regions, where scapegoating helps explain the bleakness of life.

In his chapter on Poland he suggests that President Lech Walesa "used anti-Semitic language and refused to distance himself from anti-Semitism" in his 1990 election campaign. Hockenus is critical of some Catholic Church leaders. "At first cautiously, and then with striking audacity, the arch- conservative Church hierarchy has battled to impose its vision of a fundamentalist Catholic state upon Poland. . . . The Church has gone to controversial lengths to preserve and expand its leverage in Polish society. It has flexed its considerable muscle to make its Christian agenda the order of the day in Poland, dangerously blurring the separation of church and state. The ecclesiastical hierarchy has fostered intimate links with those political parties who endorse traditional Catholic values." Many Poles feel their country is at a crossroads between a genuine democracy and "an authoritarian Poland of de facto theocracy." The Polish Church's ambivalence toward anti- Semitism is disturbing and has even placed it at odds with the Vatican.

Hockenus concludes that pluralistic, religiously tolerant democracy is fragile in Eastern Europe because "the new fascisms in Europe are genuine, organized and interconnected political movements grounded in prejudices and bigotry which penetrate to the heart of society."

Al Menendez

From .... Voice of Reason Winter 1994

Published by Americans for Religious Liberty

P.O. Box 6656, Silver Spring, MD 20916

Origin: The Flaming Chalice, Rochester, NY