On Monday October 31st, the Hungarian Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mr. Andor Nagy and his wife Mariann Bercsenyi hosted a celebration commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Guests enjoyed authentic Hungarian delicacies and a display detailing Hungary’s courageous 1956 uprising against Soviet-Communist oppression following World War II.
Ambassador Nagy opened the evening by mentioning two things that Hungary is well-known for—football player Ferenc Puskas, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. In fact, the ambassador explained, the two share a link. On October 23, 1956, Hungarian students began a Solidarity March which would trigger an open rebellion against the Soviet Union.
When the public opposition to Soviet control grew, the Communist authorities opened fire on unarmed protesters, triggering a spontaneous two-week uprising that engulfed Hungary. Despite the valiant efforts of the Hungarian youth, when the Soviet Union sent in 60,000 soldiers backed by 2,500 tanks, they crushed the revolutionaries. Among the more than 200,000 Hungarians who fled the country at the end of the war was one Ferenc Puskas.
Puskas may have become famous playing for Real Madrid, but he is also a symbol of the suffering that Hungarians went through before regaining freedom and their courageous stand for independence. The Ambassador stressed that for all of his international success, Puskas, like so many Hungarian expatriates, longed to be able to return home. Ambassador Nagy closed by thanking those who had come to commemorate this historic day and celebrate Israeli-Hungarian relations.
Following the Ambassador’s speech, the Hungarian and Israeli national anthems were sung. Afterwards, Hungary’s Minister of Education Professor Laszlo Palkovics, addressed the crowd. The minister, in Israel to further bolstering the educational cooperation between the two countries, compared Hungary with Israel as two countries without who compensate for a lack of natural resources with human ingenuity and intellectual achievement. His words highlighted Hungarian-Israeli educational cooperatives, like an initiative to reserve spots for Israeli students at Hungarian universities, and opportunities to learn from one another, for example regarding supporting scholastic achievement for students from lower socio-economic demographics.
He also discussed Hungary’s robust economic growth relative to other European Union countries, the opportunities for shared commercial interests with Israeli businesses, and the desire to learn from the entrepreneurial success of Israel’s startup industry.
Following The Education Minister’s remarks he called for a toast to both nations. The guests were then invited to sample a variety of Hungarian delicacies, including Gulash, Pogacsa (a unique Hungarian dessert) and Palinka (a traditional beverage).
The guest list was similarly diverse, including ambassadors, members of various diplomatic missions, officials of both governments, representatives of the IDF and Israel Police, business leaders and other guests from both nations. Among the distinguished guests were Ms. Vered Pear Swid, Director General of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr. and Mrs. Josef Weiss, owners of Adria Airways, Rotary International Israel District Governor Avner Fuchs, and advocate Gad Weissfeld . Of course the youngest members of the parties were hostesses—the Ambassador’s daughters Franciska and Julia. While the evening commemorated Hungarian and global history, the young girls and the promises of the Education Minister both spoke to the present and future of Hungarian-Israeli partnerships.
Article wirtten by Steven Aiello founder and director of the "Debate for Peace program"
Photos Silvia G Golan