Propaganda, Mon Amour*

An Arab “World” Through Hungarian Publications (1957–1989)


Left: György Makai, Egyptian Spring (Budapest: Kossuth, 1957).                                                                         Right: What Should We Know About Palestinians? Written by Sándor Böcz, (Budapest: Kossuth, 1981).


Discarded Knowledge

This essay, the second stage in a long-term research project, attempts to assess socialist Hungary’s state-directed solidarity with the Arab World through publications that appeared between 1957 and 1989. The first stage was enacted through my curatorial project around the film Two Meetings and a Funeral (Mohaiemen, 2017), along with this special issue of Mezosfera journal, titled Refractions of Socialist Solidarity. Considering Hungarian publications about the Arab World as products of the idea of “socialist solidarity” or “international socialist friendship” (1956–1989), this essay analyzes why certain books appeared at specific times. Socialist solidarity with the anti-colonial struggles of the Third World was different from solidarity movements for the same causes in the Western World: while the former was almost exclusively generated and represented by official state policies, the latter was mostly self-organized initiatives. This essay focuses on the state-directed solidarity of Socialist countries. Underlining the complexities and paradoxes of Hungary’s solidarity gestures with Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Propaganda, Mon Amour investigates the juncture points of Hungary’s globalist commitments, in relation to ideological purposes, diplomatic ties, and economic interests.

The essay departs from the manifold contradictions of foreign and domestic policies, discussed below, of both the past and the present. In today’s Hungary, after the “regime change” of 1989, and under neoliberal capitalism, a complex understanding of the Socialist past is far from being complete or being called for. Among many areas of state Socialism, Hungary’s socialist transnational history has been retracted from today’s “official” discourses—while its tangible, still easily accessible evidence, namely books, remain. This essay encompasses the analysis of a selection of about 50 books—published by the Hungarian state-directed press between 1957 and 1989—which are in relation to the Arab World, the Middle East, Palestine, Israel, or the Third World, and which I have found and purchased in online second-hand bookstores. These books, once considered popularizing-propagandistic tools (published in around 10 000-15 000 copies), are now pieces of discarded knowledge: books and leaflets to be thrown out, deleted from libraries, and sold for a low price.

Left: Istvánné Szenes, Leaflet for the course The Anti-Imperialist Fight of People of the Middle and Near East. Problems of the Arab World (Budapest: Party Academy of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, Department of International Workers’ Movement History, 1964, manuscript)                          Right: Inside the leaflet: a stamp that signals that it is part the library at University of Szeged Hungary. Over this another stamp says “DELETED (“TÖRÖLVE”)


In order to identify the relations of Socialist Hungary to the Arab World, one needs to decipher the power matrix around these relations: in line with and/or against various ties to the USSR, the Warsaw Pact countries, Yugoslavia, the Third World, the Non-Aligned Movement, and to the First World. After the Second World war, Hungary and Eastern European countries, considered defeated by the Allies, came under the control—but did not become member states—of the USSR.1 The terms “Socialist/Eastern Bloc,” the “Warsaw Pact countries,” or the “Second World”2 usually denote the USSR plus the Soviet-controlled Eastern European socialist countries of Albania (until 1968), Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania . While the question of which countries constitute “Eastern Europe,” as well as the provenance of the concept, is still debated,3 I use “Eastern Europe” here, in the Cold War context, exclusive of Yugoslavia. Alone among the bloc, Yugoslavia broke with the USSR in 1948, following a different trajectory than the other countries of the Eastern Bloc.

Until the end of the Cold War, foreign policy in Eastern European countries was directed primarily by the Soviet command structure. At the same time, Eastern European countries had partial areas of autonomy, especially from the late 1950s, and in particular in their economic-diplomatic relations with the Third World. While an in-depth comparative analysis of the foreign policies of Socialist Eastern European countries is yet to come, the unearthing of the partial autonomy of these countries, as well as countering the idea of the Socialist Bloc as a homogeneous entity, has been the subject of recent scholarship.4 However, the limited zone of independence from the USSR did not translate into a unified policy towards the Third World.5 Eastern European countries could navigate within the given framework and take differing positions. While Bulgaria is considered to be the most loyal in terms of following the foreign policy line of the USSR, Romania is seen as the most independent of it.6 Romania, in terms of foreign policy with the Arab World, unlike all the other Eastern European countries, did not cut diplomatic ties with Israel after one of watershed moments in the Arab-Israeli Wars, the Six-Day War of 1967.7 As another example, while Hungary refused in 1973 to sign a joint statement to recognize that the Syrian government was building Socialism—which Syria was pushing for—, Czechoslovakia agreed to such a statement and recognition.8 These divergent positions meant that there was a lack of consistency between Socialist states as well. Another case in point, at threshold of foreign and domestic policy, is the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Trying to curb the Czechoslovak reforms aimed at the liberalization of the Socialist state, the Soviet Union decided to intervene, and also to compel—in accordance with the Brezhnev Doctrine—other Warsaw Pact countries, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland, to jointly invade Czechoslovakia in 1968. Albania not only refused to participate in the invasion, but it also withdrew from the Warsaw Pact, as a culmination of disputes with the USSR already under way since the late 1950s. Another example of the divergences, even conflicts of interest, within the Socialist Bloc was the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and its aftermath. The USSR did not involve its Warsaw Pact allies in the invasion, these countries were only informed after the fact.9 To counter the backlash of Western condemnation, the USSR ordered its allies, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary to cancel prospective diplomatic meetings with Western leaders—which went directly against the (economic) interest of these Eastern European countries, as well as process of the détente of the Cold War that was already evolving from the mid-1970s.10

The foreign policy relations of the Second and the Third World started only in the mid-1950s. During Stalin’s rule (1922–1953), the Third World was not significant for the Soviet Union’s foreign policy: on the one hand, the Third World was still mainly under European colonial rule; on the other hand, the policy of the Zhdanov Doctrine (1946), diving the world into the two camps of “imperialist” (US-led) and “democratic,” (USSR-led) could not interpret non-aligned, newly decolonized countries in the Third World.11 It was only after Stalin, in the Khrushchev era (1953–1964), that the USSR’s foreign policy turned towards the Third World, so much so that by the early 1960s, the intention to influence the Third World became an integral part of Socialism.12 Within this rubric, the Second World, led by the Soviet Union, allied with the Third World through the concept of the world-wide anti-imperialist struggle and Socialist internationalism.

Starting from the Khrushchev era, Yugoslavia, through a different course, likewise aligned with the Third World. As a consequence of the friction between Stalin and Tito, Yugoslavia was expelled from the international platform of the Communist movement, the Cominform, in 1948, and thus was not part of the soon-to-be-formed Warsaw Pact in 1955. Instead, Yugoslavia was among the countries to establish the possibility of the “third way,” with the co-founding of the Non-Aligned Movement, with Third World countries, in 1961. Hungary, and the other Eastern European Socialist states could never join the Non-Aligned Movement—as they were bound by the USSR—, yet, the economic relations, especially the export of “expertise,” of Eastern European countries to Third World countries, though in a smaller scale, but was similar to those of Yugoslavia.13 For example, similar research institutes on “developing countries” was set up in Yugoslavia, Hungary, East Germany, and Poland or both Yugoslavia and Eastern European countries had architecture projects in Africa and Asia.14 Analogously to Yugoslavia, Eastern European countries’ position was thus in-between as well. A concept that could pinpoint Eastern Europe’s position, in its relations both to the Third World and to the First World, as Zoltán Ginelli points out in his essay in this issue, is that of the “semiperiphery:” simultaneously owning characteristics of the periphery and the center, the colonized and the colonizer, the revolutionary and the reinforcing.15 It is against this paradoxical backdrop that Eastern Europe’s socialist solidarity with the Third World needs to be seen.

Not only the foreign policy of Eastern European Socialist countries was heterogeneous, but also the domestic policies of solidarity with the Third World: the macro level of state support was at times in opposition with the micro levels of individual/popular support.  In Hungary, the state-propagated international solidarity movement in some cases (foremost Cuba and Vietnam) was able to generate popular support, beyond the state’s intention—which at times turned into more radical leftist solidarity for independence struggles in the Third World.16 Furthermore, this radical leftist position could also lead to the critique of the USSR as an imperialist power, which was consequently repressed by the state.17 In terms of the conflicts of state and individual levels of solidarity,  it also has to be noted, as Péter Apor points out, that the university students (mostly from North Korea and Vietnam) and and workers (mostly from Cuba) who came to Hungary through bilateral agreements and in the framework of “socialist solidarity” were far from being integrated into Hungarian society.18 While people coming from the Third World were supposed to make tangible for Hungarians the “[socialist] revolution becoming worldwide,” they were isolated from socializing with Hungarians in actual life: equality only existed abstractly, in state-propaganda images and texts, but was not so much embodied in everyday, individual life.19 Nonetheless, within Hungary’s solidarity gestures towards the Third World, unequivocally the most complex, and most difficult, area was building support (in this case, both state-level and popular/individual) for the independence movements of the Arab World—due to Hungary’s historical ties to Israel.20


Hungarian Context: Past and Present

With reaching back to this part of Hungarian history, one needs to cut through several historical as well as contemporary ideological discourses that shape the view of Hungary’s relations with the Arab world. First of all, the original context in which these books appeared need to be reconstructed. During the Second World War, Hungary aligned with Nazi Germany and the Axis powers, and was subsequently defeated by the Allies, which included the expulsion of German troops form Hungary as well as the country’s occupation by the Soviet Red Army in 1945. Hungary thus came under the Soviet sphere of influence and subsequently became a “satellite state” of the USSR.

With abolishing the former Hungarian elites and leaders, a Communist government was installed, and a Soviet-type system was built in Hungary (1945–1949). The leader of the new, Communist government was Mátyás Rákosi (1948–1953), an ardent follower of Stalin, who built a totalitarian regime in Hungary. Rákosi’s derailed rule of failed economic policies and repression—which also included show trials, the most famous being that of Foreign Minister László Rajk at the auditorium of the Center of the Metalworkers Union21—was buffered by the USSR with installing a new premier Imre Nagy (1953–1955). The Soviet-controlled state was then countered by a popular uprising, the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, the precursor of which was the reburial, and the rehabilitation, of László Rajk a few days earlier. The Revolution was in the end suppressed by the Soviet Red Army of the USSR, which left casualties and generated a wave of Hungarian emigration, primarily to the US and other Western European countries.

While the one-party system, and the state form of the “Hungarian People’s Republic” existed from 1949 to 1989, there were different periods, which, at times, also followed the course of the USSR. The Hungarian counterpart of the Khrushchev Thaw (1953–1964) was the long “Kádár era,” from 1956 to 1989. János Kádár, who was persecuted under the Rákosi regime, was installed in Hungary by the Soviet Union in 1956, in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution. Kádár began his nearly 40-year rule domestically with retaliation (trials and executions, including that of Imre Nagy) for the Revolution, which the Hungarian state labelled as a “counter-revolution,” orchestrated by Western imperialist powers against the communist government of Hungary. At the same time, the USSR’s invasion of Hungary, as response to the Revolution in 1956 was condemned worldwide. In terms of foreign policy, in order to restore the reputation and to counter the potential international isolation of Hungary, Kádár, as a strategy to open, started building diplomatic-economic relationships with both Western European and Third World countries. While Hungary’s Socialist past can be analyzed from many perspectives, the focus of this essay is one particular area: Hungary’s relations and international solidarity with Third World, and within that, the Arab World between 1957 and 1989.

First of May parade in Budapest, 1978. Banners with portrayals (from left to right) of Pál Losonczi, Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, János Kádár, Vladimir Lenin, Friedrich Engels, János Kádár, Pál Losonczi. The parade is guarded by the Workers’ Militia, a state-directed paramilitary organization. FOTO: FORTEPAN / Donor: Szitakri. Fortepan, under the Creative Commons licence, is an online archives of photos, taken in, or in relation to Hungary, all of which is donated by individuals.


In terms of the contemporary layers, one has to consider also the major ideological shift from socialism to neoliberal capitalism after the end of the Cold War in 1989, which rather simplified or negated understanding Hungary’s Socialist past. This schizophrenic condition can be seen in Hungary’s past and present relations with the Arab World. In recent years, the most visible pro-Palestinian position was taken by the far right party in Hungary, Jobbik, in the early-mid 2000s. The fact that the far right party in Hungary could hijack the Palestinian struggle—a leftist tradition propagated by the Socialist state in Hungary22 —speaks to the much larger issue of a still unprocessed past. After 1989, the socialist past, especially on the political “successor” left, became more like a taboo in order to disinherit this totalitarian, repressive chapter in history. It is the political right in Hungary that has been at the forefront of dealing with, and predominantly framing, this era, but in a rather simplistic, emotionally charged manner, always overemphasizing the “victims of communist terror.”

The sharp ideological and economic turn of the Hungarian state after 1989 is detectable, for instance, in the case of its relationship with Palestine as well. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) opened an office in Budapest in 1975. In 1982, the Palestinian representation in Hungary gained diplomatic status, and Hungary recognized the proclamation of the Palestinian State in 1988. Since 1988, a Palestinian Embassy operates in Hungary. After the “regime change” in 1989, coming under the influence of the Euro-American alliance, diplomatic ties with Israel were re-established in 1989 (which were cut in 1967, after the Six-Day War). In the last few years, under the right-wing FIDESZ government, however the connection with Israel has become even stronger. In July 2017, Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic visit to Budapest; he was the first Israeli prime minister to travel to Hungary since 1989. Furthermore, Hungary sent delegation to the US Embassy’s recent relocation to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in May 2018. As a response, the Palestinian Authority recalled its ambassadors to Hungary (and also 3 other Central-Eastern European EU member states who sent delegates: Austria, the Czech Republic, and Romania).

With taking these double-binds into consideration, Propaganda, Mon Amour, aims to tackle the difficulties of gathering and accessing material of Hungary’s Socialist past. How to get it into this tradition of historical discourse and diplomacy when it is no longer cultivated? How should these books, discussed below, be considered when their authors were able to travel most likely because they were secret agents? How to gain information about the authors (most of them political journalists) when knowledge about them is mostly oral history (of people who are still alive) and the declassification of information was not in the interest either of the previous or today’s leadership? How should these books be analyzed when they are basically the only publicly and easily accessible remnants of socialist solidarity? Thus, the challenge, among others, is to offer a complex understanding of the internationalist ambitions and cross-border patronage models of the socialist past in Hungary.


Kossuth Publishing and Domestic International Solidarity

Between the late 1950s and the late 1980s, many books have appeared in Hungarian, almost exclusively by Hungarian authors, about Third World countries, including the Middle East. Understanding the motivations behind the publication of books on the Middle East and North Africa, the relations of Socialist Hungary to the Arab World need to be examined, at the intersection of at least three different, but interrelated, areas: (1) the domestic propaganda purposes with which (socialist) revolutionary struggles in the Third World were deployed in Hungary; (2) the economic-diplomatic relations Hungary built with Arab countries in the Cold War; (3) and world events in the Cold War era, such as the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, or the Arab-Israeli Wars, especially in 1967 and 1973.

With a few exceptions, all of the books about the Third World were published by Kossuth, the main, and essentially the only, publishing house on socio-political issues at that time, which was nationalized in 1948, and became a mouthpiece of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (HSWP) from 1950s until 1989. Beyond popularizing and scholarly books, publishing also included leaflets for theoretical-ideological courses as part of the Socialist adult education. The courses were offered to HSWP members, mid-level leaders, and “propagandists” of manufacturing units, who would regularly disseminate knowledge and information—about, for instance, trade within Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) or other matters of world economics—to workers through the workers’ union. Propaganda, as a form of education, was an innate part of Socialist life; there are also numerous publications in Hungarian on how propaganda should be done.

Left: The Middle East and World Peace. Course leaflet for the course Questions of World Politics and World Economy offered by the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. Written by György Makai. (Budapest: Kossuth, 1969)                                                                                                                                                                                         Center: Propagandist 5/XII (1988), Journal of the Agitation and Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party (Budapest: Kossuth, 1988)                                                     Right: On Propaganda to Propagandists (Budapest: Kossuth, 1987)


Socialist solidarity was based on the principle of transnationality, which these books also attempted to convey, yet, the interest behind their publication was rather national. As James Mark and Péter Apor argued, Hungarian state-propagated, publishing and discourse production on, including solidarity with, Third World countries, starting from the late 1950s, was a means to consolidate Socialism, as part of “socialist mass culture,” catered mostly for young people, to integrate them into the new, Socialist society.23 As the two researchers state, information about contemporaneous revolutions in Third Word countries were meant to ignite the imagination, through which Hungarians could see themselves as “members of a transnational army of progress and revolution,” participating in a global fight for the bright future of socialism—against capitalism and imperialism.24 What Mark and Apor, however, miss to point out is that this solidarity discourse also manifested a kind of neo-colonial attitude: “Revolutions in distant lands” were meant to be used as “raw materials” and as aspiring models by Hungarians.25

Even though Apor and Mark examine mostly journals and organizations created for young people, and they do not touch upon the type of books examined here, I argue, that these publications should also be considered within the same strategy of presenting the independence struggles of Third World countries for domestic political-ideological purposes. This is discernible not only by the fact that Hungarian authors wrote these books (and were not, for instance, the Hungarian translations of authors from the Arab World), but also by the tangible local perspective through which the worldwide anti-imperialist struggle was presented. These publications usually include a chapter on the contributions of the USSR and Socialist countries to the anti-imperialist struggles in the Arab World and, for instance, the authors almost always imply Hungary’s complex relations to Israel.26 While these publications were not intended for the purposes of making actual contacts between the Second World and the Third World, these books did offer nuanced knowledge on Third World countries. The awareness of that era’s generation was much more attuned to Third World politics than currently; publishing books with the same themes, in such numbers, is unimaginable today.

Left: György Makai, Israel’s Three Wars (Budapest: Kossuth, 1968)                                                                             Right: Today’s Questions: What are Arabs Fighting For? Written by György Makai (Budapest: Kossuth, 1971)


The author who clearly emerges among the publications on the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa is political journalist György Makai (1928–1996). Available public information on him is scarce—though Mark and Apor mention in a footnote that Makai was a promoter of internationalist Socialist culture.27 His books, however, can still be found. These publications include: Egyptian Spring (1957), NATO (1961), Israel’s Three Wars (1968), Today’s Questions: What are Arabs Fighting for? (1971), The State of Israel and Zionism (1973), Oil and Weapons in the Arabian Gulf (1975), Race Theory and Racism (1977), The Third World (1979), The Children of Allah (1980), or The Saudi Relation (1981).

Makai’s language is cast in a revolutionary vocabulary; he understands forces in terms of “progressive” (i.e. Socialist-oriented) and “reactionary” (i.e, bourgeoise, West-oriented). He likewise points out exactly the “rights” and “wrongs” of the progressive, anti-imperialist struggle of other nations—according to Marxist-Leninist views. At this point it is not clear how Makai was able to gather information, although, in some of his books he states that he traveled and consulted with people on the ground. Interestingly, after being an ardent critic of US imperialism since the late 1950s, in 1973 two of his books were published: The State of Israel and Zionism and another titled California! (with Disneyland on the cover). California! (with exclamation mark) is about this “most interesting US state,” its “technological wonders,” but also as the “site of the Black Panthers,” the “place where Angela Davis was active or where the hippie movement was born.”28 As Makai states, this book was published based on the several months he spent in California in 1972 as part of a “scholarship for a US study trip.”29

Left: György Makai, The State of Israel and Zionism (Budapest: Kossuth, 1973)                                                    Right: György Makai, California! (Budapest: Kossuth, 1973)


György Makai’s books are rarely mentioned today. For instance, a recent PhD thesis on Saudi Arabia (1950–1958) contends that Makai’s 1981 book, The Saudi Relation, is still the most recent, and basically the only monographic publication on Saudi Arabia in Hungarian, and even though it “has aged well” and it is “unusually accurate” throughout the book, there are also some “distortions” and “simplifications,” also in the parts relevant for the thesis, due to which “it cannot really be used, unfortunately.”30 Hungarian scholars, László J. Nagy and Péter Ákos Ferwagner, basically the only two historians who specialize in the “Arab region,” reference Makai’s works in their 2004 book The History of the Arab Countries, nevertheless J. Nagy, in his two monographies on the relations of Socialist Hungary and the Arab World (2006, 2017) does not reference or include in the recommended reading list the publications by Makai.31 That is, it seems that, contrary to this essay’s argument, J. Nagy does not consider Makai’s works part of the Socialist relations between Hungary and the Arab World.


Trade Relations and Handshakes in Budapest

As the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, the turning point of 1957 was not only of the appearance of these publications, but also of building economic and diplomatic relations with the Arab World. Already in 1957 a Hungarian goodwill mission visited, among others, Egypt, where the delegation was received by the president of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser.32 György Makai, implicitly and explicitly, is likely to have been linked to this delegation, as his book Egyptian Spring (Egyiptomi tavasz), as a kind of report of his visit in Egypt, was published already in 1957. The book, with various photos, some of which were taken by the author himself, is a mixture of a travelogue, Orientalism, and an admiration for Nasser.

György Makai, Egyptian Spring (Budapest: Kossuth, 1957)


The Hungarian Revolution (October 23 – November 4) can also be seen as inter-connected to the Suez Crisis (October 29 – November 7) in 1956, not only as they happened almost exactly at the same time, but also as their importance was rivaled out in the General Assembly of the UN.33 As the Hungarian popular uprising stepped up against the Soviet-type regime, revolutionaries were hoping for an armed support from Western powers, which, instead decided to intervene in Egypt. The Suez Crisis, or Second Arab–Israeli War in 1956, was an attack against Egypt by Israel, the United Kingdom, and France in response to Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal. Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, in need of money, after the United States and Britain pulled out of sponsoring the building of the Aswan Dam—which was was then built with the support of the USSR. Although scholars disagree in terms of the how much the Suez crisis affected the Hungarian revolution, and the other way around, most of them conclude that, to the advantage of the Soviet Union, the situation in Egypt shifted attention away from the so-called “Hungarian question,”34 and thus the international interpretation of the USSR as a repressive, imperialist power.

In term of trade relations, the Middle East constituted an export market for Hungary during the Cold War, within which the main partner in the 1950s and 1960s was Egypt/The United Arab Republic.35 Nasser even planned to visit in Hungary in 1956, which he then cancelled due to unfolding Suez Crisis, and as he just committed himself to the non-alignment of the Bandung Conference in 1955.36.The United Arab Republic (UAR) was the union of Egypt and Syria between 1958 and 1961, although Egypt retained this name until 1971, then it was renamed the Arab Republic of Egypt. From the 1950s on, Hungary exported to Egypt industrial goods as well as weapons and military hardware for which in return Hungary imported raw material, and also got access to much needed foreign currency, namely US dollars.37 Corresponding to these economic interests, in the early 1960s, there were also publications on the economic aspects of the United Arab Republic, from a historical perspective, on issues of its agriculture, industry, finances, trade relations. These publications also underscored the “role of the Socialist camp in cementing the economic independence of the United Arab Republic.”38

Left: L. Vatolina, Economy of the United Arab Republic (Budapest: Kossuth, 1962, translated from Russian) Right: Istán Kubik, The Main Characteristics of the Economic Development of United Arab Republic. Main Theses of Dissertation (Budapest, 1963)


The access to Western currency, to narrow Hungary’s trade deficit  was one of the main economic interests on the part of Hungary to start trade relations with the Arab World, and also with other Third World countries.39 Trade and diplomatic relations were also advantageous and maximized by Arab countries.40 In addition, for instance, Syria appealed for recognition by Eastern European Socialist States in order to secure higher levels of aid.41

Hungarian Pavilion at the 6th International Fair in Damascus, Syria, 1959. FOTO:FORTEPAN / G K


Soviet military support for Egypt was also pinpointed by Makai, with a quote from Nasser’s speech (the source of this quote is not indicated):

Nasser in a speech on July 26, 1968, among others, said the following: ‘thus far we have not paid a penny for the weapons that we got from the Soviet Union to install our army . . . Why did we get this from the Soviet Union? I sincerely and openly want to tell you that the Soviet Union did not want to dictate or demand anything, not even in the time of our greatest trials. . . We listed our requests for hours, but they did not ask anything from us. When I told them, I’m ashamed to ask for so much, and they ask for nothing in return, they told us: We are acting on the basis of ideologies. We have nothing to ask of you…’


These ideological bases are clear. As the Middle Eastern conflict is a special front of the world-wide struggle of progressive and reactionary forces, the interests of the forces fighting against aggression coincide with those of the Socialist countries. It is a clear-cut juncture point, in which the motives of the Socialist camp, the international workers’ movement, the Arab national workers’ movement, and the progressive, national forces in the Middle East coalesce in close relation with each other.42.

After the death of Nasser in 1970, when the more US-oriented Anwar Sadat became the President of Egypt, Hungary’ economic focus shifted away from Egypt.43 In the publication entitled What are Arabs fighting for?, in 1971, Makai criticizes Egypt for not building a “proper” Socialist state, from the point of view of a Eurocentric feeling of superiority (and maybe also having Sadat, and not Nasser in mind):

In Egypt, and in other Arab countries as well, there are many contradictions between the announced principles and their practice, with which our public opinion [in Hungary] is also concerned. Our daily press that—correctly—follows the current diplomatic and political situations, tends to ignore these contradictions—alas, these are really complicated contradictions. In spite of this, they also project to the Egyptian, and to the Arab conditions in general, categories that were born based on the characteristics and possibilities of European countries that build Socialism. These categories in this case are often misleading. This is how the almost treasured image could emerge that some kind of a Socialist society is being built on the banks of the Nile.44

 In place of Egypt, the Eastern Bloc turned towards Iraq and Syria in the 1970s. Within Hungary’s overall trade, and also that of Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria, with the Third World, arms trade was the most profitable.45 After the Six Day War of 1967, Arab countries started a large-scale expansion of their armies, which they could realize through arms trade and loans provided by the Soviet Bloc.46 Furthermore, as the Soviet Bloc countries, with the USSR in the best position, could only export to Third World countries essentially similar military hardware, it also created a rivalry among the Bloc members.47 On the other hand, it also pushed, for instance, Hungary to specialize and develop military products domestically.48

Saddam Hussein, as de facto leader of Iraq, visited the USSR first in 1970, and among others, developed military trade relations with the Socialist countries.49 In 1970, Hungary exported to Iraq handguns worth of 46 000 USD, and in 1971, a deal was made that Hungary would export other military products, including armored vehicles, communication tools to Iraq.50 Until 1975, Hungary exported the most military equipments to Iraq.51 Saddam Hussein also made an official visit to Hungary in 1975. He was greeted at the airport (possibly by Iraqis staying in Hungary at that time) and had a meeting with Hungary’s leader János Kádár.

“Budapest, May 7, 1975. Arriving for an official visit to Budapest, Saddam Hussein, the President of the Revolutionary Command Council of the Republic of Iraq, Deputy Secretary-General of the Regional Command of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, welcomes those who came to greet him at Ferihegy Airport.” MTI Photo: Géza Szebellédy


“Budapest, May 8, 1975. Saddam Hussein, President of the Revolutionary Command Council of the Republic of Iraq, Deputy Secretary-General of the Regional Command of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, is in Budapest for negotiations. He is received by János Kádár, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, at the Headquarters of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party.” MTI Photo: Géza Szebellédy


Hungary also had military trade relations with Syria, already in the late 1960s.52 Furthermore, during the Yom Kippur War, or the Fourth Arab-Israeli War in 1973, when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel, Hafez al-Assad of Syria turned to the Socialist Bloc countries (except for Romania, as the only one in the Bloc to have diplomatic ties with Israel) for military support, which was granted.53 Hungary dispatched tanks, rockets, and other ammunition to the Syrian army, which was done through the air lift provided by the Soviet Union.54 Hungarian military personnel did not take part in the war.55 In 1978, Hafez al-Assad also visited Hungary.56

Libya, under the leadership of Muammar al-Gaddafi, started building trade relationship with the Socialist Bloc from 1973-1974: among others, the USSR and Czechoslovakia exported tanks and air defense systems, while from Hungary, Libya bought textile and food.57 Gaddafi also made official visits to Hungary more than once, including in 1978 and 1981.58. Moreover, Gaddafi’s The Green Book (1975–1978), encompassing his political-economic philosophy, was translated to more than 30 languages,59 including Hungarian as well. The Hungarian version came out in several editions, in hardcover and paperback. The publishing date is not indicated in the books; nevertheless, based on library records, one can conclude that the various editions appeared between 1982 and 1988. The Hungarian version of The Green Book was published and disseminated throughout the country by the People’s Office (i.e. embassy) of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, via post, or, according to Hungarian State Security reports, at times, the office’s personnel drove and dropped off copies at public schools.60

Left to right, Pál Losonczi, Chairman of the Hungarian Presidential Council; Muammar al-Gaddafi, Brotherly Leader of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; János Kádár, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, in front of the Hungarian Parliament, Budapest, 1981. Source:


Muammar al-Gaddafi, The Green Book (Budapest: People’s Office of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, 1980s)


By 1975, Hungary had diplomatic relations with all the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, which refused to build relations with “atheist” Socialist States.61 It was only after the regime change of 1989 that Saudi Arabia and Hungary established diplomatic ties. It is also noteworthy to mention, as László J. Nagy underlines, that while several leaders of the Arab World came to Hungary, Kádár never visited any of the Arab countries62—only other, lower level members of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party went to these journeys.


Hungary’s relation with the PLO

Discussion on Palestine, especially in relations to Israel, has been the most sensitive issue in the Socialist era as well as today. Even in the two monographies on Hungary’s relations with the Arab World during the Cold War by Hungarian historian László J. Nagy, while analyzing Hungary’s contacts with the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), he excuses himself in the Preface that the books do “not extend separately on the Arab-Israeli relations, in particular on Hungary’s relations to the State of Israel, and on Israeli politics . . . as it is a completely independent topic, with specific features.”63 On the other hand, an attempt to look at the Arab-Israeli relations in Hungary, in its complexity, in the field of art and culture, is the essay by Zsuzsa László in this issue.

“Budapest, November 28, 1975. János Kádár, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, receives in his office Yasser Arafat, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who, heading a delegation, came to Budapest for a short visit.” MTI Photo: Vigovszki Ferenc


In terms of Middle East politics as well as the building of relations between the Socialist Bloc and the PLO, a watershed moment came after the Six-Day war, or the Second Arab-Israeli War in 1967. The joint forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were defeated by Israel, which consequently took control over the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights.  After the war, as other Eastern European countries (except Romania), Hungary also cut diplomatic ties with Israel, and the issue of Palestine was increasingly foregrounded. On the level of “official” ideology, nevertheless, Makai, and other authors as well, were conflicted about their full-hearted support for the Palestinian struggle, not just in relation to the issue of Israel (the USSR and Hungary acknowledged the state of Israel in 1947, and there is also a large Jewish community in Hungary), but that of violent struggle—even though the fact that a PLO office opened in 1975 Budapest already signalled the pursuit of diplomacy of Yasser Arafat and the PLO. As Apor and Mark point out, Hungarian propaganda practices in the 1970s gradually started to downplay and distance armed revolutions of the Third World: as it was stated, they can be supported theoretically, but they should not be considered as relevant examples for Hungary, for a country that already won its socialist revolution.64 From this perspective it becomes clear why Makai and Sándor Böcz too in his book What Should We Know About Palestinians?, published in 1981, advocated for the peaceful solution rather than armed struggles.

It made it complicated and difficult for progressive forces, such as the Socialist countries, to take a clear position [on the issue of the Palestinian struggle], as the recognition and the support of the Palestinian resistance movement had to be reconciled with the existence, and the right of existence of the State of Israel. Under no circumstances could they identify themselves with the objectives of the eradication of Israel, since the Jewish state was recognized in international decisions and treaties. It was also confusing that the Palestinian resistance initially categorically rejected the idea of political settlement and saw the only means of achieving its objectives in armed struggle. Building relationships, co-operation was further complicated by the heterogeneous nature of the movement, the different ideological trends, the progressive and reactionary influences.65


On the other hand, the diplomatic-economic relations show a somewhat more complex picture. Yasser Arafat’s visit in Moscow in 1970 was a turning point in the Soviet-Palestinian relationship, after which the USSR also pushed Hungary to establish ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).66 The PLO office opened in 1975 in Budapest. Following this, in 1976, the first book sloley on Palestine was published. Perhaps not unrelated to this, in 1970, The Hungarian Foreign Ministry wrote a memorandum on the Palestine Liberation Movement, which, among others, contained a passage on encouraging Hungarian publications on Palestine:


Our press and informative bodies should stand up more bravely and determinedly for the just cause of the Palestinian people, furthermore they should also shed some light on and explain the nature and challenges of the Palestinian movement and they should highlight the positive developments within the movement.67

Left: György Ónody, Palestine and Palestinians (Budapest: Kossuth, 1976)                                                              Right: What Should We Know About Palestinians? Written by Sándor Böcz, (Budapest: Kossuth, 1981)


In 1981, Hungary supported the PLO with an aid worth of 3 million HUF, and between 1978 and 1981 Hungary gave the PLO 16 million HUF.68 The Palestinian representation in Hungary gained diplomatic status in 1982. Hungary recognized the proclamation of the Palestinian State in 1988. Yasser Arafat visited Hungary several times in the 1970s and 1980s, and good relations with the PLO was maintained from the side of the Hungarian government.69 Interview on Hungarian State Television with Farouk al Kaddoumi of Fatah/PLO, on the occasion of opening the PLO office in Budapest in 1975. Still from an episode on the MALÉV Flight 240 of the TV Show “Retrográd” of then government friendly news channel HírTV, 2013. Source: YouTube,[/caption]


Another unresolved piece of history in the relationship of Hungary and the PLO concerns Flight 240 from Budapest to Beirut, during the Lebanese Civil War, operated by (the no longer existing) Hungarian airlines MALÉV.70 The plane exploded during landing and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on September 30, 1975. Everybody on board, 60 people, were killed. What exactly happened in this case was not fully uncovered in the 1970s, and it has remained a “mystery” ever since. The most ardent research was initiated, without success, in the early 2000s by the husband of one of the fight attendees who was killed during the crash. There are contradictory theories of why the plane crashed. One is theory is that the plane was torpedoed by Israel as the PLO delegation was supposed to be on board. On September 29, 1975, one day before the plane crashed, the PLO office opened in Budapest, for which the Palestinian delegation (except for Yasser Arafat) came to Hungary. They were expected to fly back to Beirut (where the PLO was based at that time) with this flight—which apparently they did not. The other, related, but different theory is that the plane was shot because it secretly transported ammunition from Hungary to the PLO in Beirut. Based on available reports, there is still no conclusive answer as to why the plane crashed. Also, according to the reports, the debris of the plane as well as the bodies of the victims are still in the Mediterranean Sea. An investigation was initiated by the Hungarian government in 2003, which instead of revealing information, classified the investigation’s findings.

Far from the intention of downplaying the the loss of lives in this accident, yet, the dominant narrative about MALÉV Flight 240 from Budapest to Beirut is the sensationalization of the “mystery,” “the coverup of a totalitarian regime,” and the tragic fate of the people on board—the  photo that is republished the most whenever the flight is discussed is the tableau of the flight crew who lost their lives. It would also be worth, however seeing this accident in a bigger framework, and starting to ask questions about Hungary’s involvement in the wars in the Middle East.

“The crew of the unfortunate MALÉV Flight 240.” Source: Malév/


The era’s last monographic book on Palestine, published in 1983 and entitled Palestinians and Self-Determination, moves away from the Hungarian-only perspective and gives the word to a Palestinian who had experience on the ground. It is based on the PhD thesis by Farouk Dawass, a Palestinian, who joined the Palestinian Liberation Movement in 1968, and who was a PhD research fellow (an “aspirant,”) in Hungary from 1977.71 In this sense, this is the most transnational publication. Nonetheless, the end of the book includes the reviews of three Hungarian scholars to show the “shortfalls, contradictions, and the values” of the study.72 Unlike the other books mentioned in this essay, it is not published by Kossuth but by the Institute of Social Sciences of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, and only in 1500 copies.

Farouk Dawass, Palestinians and Self-Determination, (Budapest: Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, Institute of Social Sciences, 1983)


After the mid-1970s, one can conclude that the left revolutionary moment was already over, globally: Western powers beat the aspirations of the 1968 New Left, Socialism was not victorious in the Third World, and the Eastern Bloc also slowly started to dissipate. A pivot from Socialism to Islamism, beginning in 1973-1974 as argued in the film Two Meetings and a Funeral (Mohaiemen, 2017), came to its full realization by the end of the decade. There were signs also that Eastern Bloc relations to the Arab World were changing: they were more economic than ideological driven.73

In general, Hungary gravitated towards the Euro-American Alliance, especially to Western Europe in the 1980s: the country accumulated so much foreign debt that it needed a loan from China to join the IMF and the World Bank in 1982.74 In 1982 Kádár visited Bonn and London in 1985; while François Mitterrand in 1982, US Vice President George Bush in 1983, and Chancellor Helmut Kohl, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi in 1984 came to Hungary.75

In a similar vein, Hungary, already in the late 1980s, started rekindling relations with Israel, which essentially led to a schizophrenic split just in a few months. On March 16–17, 1989 Yasser Arafat made an official visit to Hungary, also on the occasion that the Palestinian representation was granted the Embassy status. Simultaneously, the physical-ideological “regime change” was underway as well: Hungary dismantled and lifted a part of the “Iron Curtain” along its border with Austria in June 1989, and a series of other events led finally to October 1989, when a multi-party system was introduced and the People’s Republic of Hungary was renamed Republic of Hungary. On September 14, 1989, only six months after the Embassy of the State of Palestine opened in Budapest, Hungary re-established diplomatic relations with Israel.76 Consequently, in the early 1990s, Hungary, from one day to the other, cut all previous economic relations with Third World countries, and its main interest was to integrate into the Euro-American system, especially (back) to “Europe.” J. Nagy contends that with the fall of the Socialist Bloc it was the Palestinians in the Arab World who lost the most: a “solid supporter.”77

“Budapest, March 17, 1989. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, personally raises the Palestinian national flag, on the occasion that the PLO office in Budapest gained Embassy Status.” MTI Photo: László Varga


In Conclusion: Beyond The Romantic Appeal

I have engaged with the state-directed, “official” discourse production, analyzed Hungarian publications as products of Socialist solidarity about the Arab World from 1957 to the late 1980s, through the lens of Socialist ideology, diplomatic, and economic relations, as well as world events. If studying Socialist solidarity with the Arab World solely in relation to ideology propagated at the time in Hungary, one can conclude that it was, international at best, but it was not a transnational project. People from the Arab World were not involved in these publications (with the exception of Gaddafi’s The Green Book and Farouk Dawass’s Palestinians and Self-Determination); these books are rather representations of the Arab World, from a Hungarian, Socialist, anti-imperialist point of view. This local perspective, at times, also coupled with Orientalism in late 1950s-early 1960s, a sense of superiority, as well as a kind of neo-colonial, patronizing stance in spreading Socialism in the Third World. The books, on the other hand, served as educational materials in Hungary as well, beyond their propaganda purposes: information about the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa was nuanced and made available to a degree that is unimaginable today. Some of these books are still the only Hungarian monographs on particular countries of the Arab World.

Looking at the relations between Hungary and the Arab World in the field of economy and diplomacy, however, tells of a more active connection than only examining discourse production. The Arab World was an important export market for Hungary in the Cold War, especially in selling industrial goods, as well as weapons and other military hardware. Until the death of Nasser in 1970, Egypt (United Arab Republic) was the main trading partner of Hungary. The trajectory of the weapons sold to Egypt by Hungary, and also by other Eastern European Socialist countries, foremost Czechoslovakia, however, is a connection yet to be explored. Understanding, especially the trade route of weaponry, which was manufactured in, and sold by, Hungary to countries in North Africa and the Middle East, paves the way towards reconstructing Hungary’s involvement in various wars, as well as towards their political ramifications, which is still not fully understood today in Hungary.

The “regime change” of 1989, the turn from State Socialism to Neoliberal Capitalism, confounded political positions as well. As the ex-Socialist left mostly turned away from analyzing the Socialist past, it was mainly the political right in Hungary that was able to frame the discussion around it. So much so, that the current right-wing Fidesz government spoke of “opening to the East,” in trading relations while at the same time embedding it in a mixture of rhetorics that casts Hungary as fighting against the double front of the colonial European Union, and against the “invasion” of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. Reconstructing and re-politicizing, from a local point of view, Hungary’s Socialist, transnational connections with countries of the Third World—a state-sponsored leftist tradition—cannot be more timely, especially as it has been an emerging topic of interest in the Anglophone scholarly world as well.

Russian filmmaker Alexander Makov underlines in his short text “Research Notes: Soviet Filmmakers In Africa, 1960–1980s,” published in the booklet of the project Saving Bruce: African and Arab Cinema In The Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy (curated by Koyo Kouoh and Rasha Salti) that beyond the USSR-propagated solidarity, Soviet filmmakers, on an individual level, could have the (false) romantic illusion of being in proximity with Africans and their decolonial struggles:

Africa during its historical transformation epitomized the journey towards a ‘radiant future’ and, in a paradoxical proximity to the spirit of the [Khrushchev’s] Thaw, this transformation brought Africans closer to the Soviets. A naïve illusion in retrospect, but emblematic of that period.78

Yet, the potential of uncovering the Socialist tradition of international solidarity—which was not only illusory and contradictory, but it also ultimately failed—is to own it and open it up. What socialist solidarity missed, as works analyzing this part of the past often do too, was to make it into a two/multi-sided, transnational project. As the next experiment, parts of this text and research on Socialist Hungary’s relations with the Arab World will be opened up in an exhibition format—in the Arab World, in the hope of eliciting responses and future collaborators.




About the author

Eszter Szakács is a curator and editor based in Budapest. She has worked at since 2011. There she is co-editor of the online international art magazine Mezosfera and curator-editor of the collaborative research project Curatorial Dictionary (2012–2016). She was co-editor of the book IMAGINATION/IDEA. The Beginning of Hungarian Conceptual Art. The László Beke Collection, 1971 (Budapest, Zurich:, JRP|Ringier, 2014). Most recently, she organized at the Budapest presentation of the three-channel film Two Meetings and a Funeral by Naeem Mohaiemen. Her research interests in art include concepts of internationalism and forms of cultural resistance, especially in relation to Eastern Europe. She was a curatorial team member of OFF-Biennale Budapest in 2017 and a research group member of the …OPEN MUSEUM...project and handbook initiated and published by the Museum of Ethnography, Budapest (2014–2018).



*Propaganda mon amour (punctuated differently) was also the title of an unrelated thematic issue of Neural journal’s (Issue #57, Summer 2017.) Neural, as it is stated in its mission statement “is a printed magazine established in 1993 dealing with new media art, electronic music and hacktivism. It was founded by Alessandro Ludovico and Minus Habens Records label owner Ivan Iusco in Bari (Italy)” ( The Propaganda mon amour special issue, edited by Italian sociologist and marketing strategist Andrea Natell, deals with “contemporary propaganda strategies in media and art,” and includes, among others, interviews with Fatima Al Qadiri or Jonas Staal; articles such as “Is there something outside the hyperstition? On accelerationism and propaganda;” or “ Mapping the ‘Alt-Right.’”  ( Also, my essay and this thematic issue of Mezosfera builds on’s long-term engagement with socialist Eastern Europe’s relations with the Third World, the chapters of which included a Mezosfera thematic issue entitled Propositions for a Pan-Peripheral Network (2017) as well as its launch event with a reading room.

  1. Members of the USSR (1940–1991) were Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
  2. The term “Second World” was coined in the “West” during the Cold War to describe the Soviet Union and the socialist countries of the Eastern Bloc—as a differentiation from the capitalist, “First World.” See J. Oldfield, Second World,” in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, eds. Rob Kitchin and Nigel Thrift (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2009): 56.  Also, as Thomas Hylland Eriksen underlines, the idea of “three worlds,”— and by extension, also the concept of the Second World—,is an Anglophone construction, the origin of which he traces back to anthropologist and sociologist Peter Worsley, specifically to his publications The Third World in 1964 and The Three Worlds in 1984. Thomas Hylland Eriksen, “What’s Wrong With The Global North And The Global South?” in Concepts of the Global South. Voices From Around the World, eds. Hollington, Andrea and Salverda, Tijo and Schwarz, Tobias and Tappe, Oliver (Cologne: Global South Studies Center, 2015), Furthermore, while the term “Third World” is usually attributed to French demographer Alfred Sauvy (in 1952),  there are also debates about the very first usage of the concept. See, among others: Wolf-Phillips, Leslie. “Why Third World?” Third World Quarterly 1, no. 1 (1979): 105–115; Worsley, Peter. “How Many Worlds?” Third World Quarterly 1, no. 2 (1979): 100-08; Love, Joseph L. “‘Third World’ a Response to Professor Worsley.” Third World Quarterly 2, no. 2 (1980): 315–317.
  3. See, for instance, Larry Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe. The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (Stanford: University Press, 1994); Attila Melegh, On The East-West Slope: Globalization, Nationalism, Racism, and Discourses On Eastern Europe (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2006; Katalin Miklóssy and Pekka Korhonen, eds., The East and the Idea of Europe (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2010); Katalin Miklossy, Gareth Dale,  Dieter Segert, eds., The Politics of East European Area Studies (London – New York: Routledge, 2016).
  4. See Philip Muehlenbeck and Natalia Telepneva, eds., Warsaw Pact Intervention in the Third World: Aid and Influence in the Cold War (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2018). Thanks to Zoltán Ginelli for pointing out this information.
  5. See more on this in the essay by Zoltán Ginelli in this issue: “Hungarian Experts in Nkrumah’s Ghana. Decolonization and Semiperipheral Postcoloniality in Socialist Hungary,” Mezosfera Issue No 5, Refractions of Socialist Solidarity, ed. Eszter Szakács (Budapest: 2018),
  6. Philip Muehlenbeck and Natalia Telepneva, Ibid., 328.
  7. László J. Nagy, Magyarország és az arab térség. Kapcsolatok, vélemények, álláspontok 1947–1975 (Hungary and the Arab Region. Relations. Opinions. Statements 1947–1975) (Szeged: JATE Press, 2006), 119.
  8. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, eds., Bittersweet Friendships. Relations between Hungary and the Middle East, 1953–1988 Selected Documents. (Washington D.C.: Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2015), 4–5.
  9. Csaba Békés, “Why Was There No ‘Second Cold War’ In Europe? Documents from Hungarian Archives on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979” Bulletin, Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C., Issue 14-15, Winter 2003–Spring 2004, 204–219: 204.
  10. Csaba Békés, “Hungarian Foreign Policy in the Soviet Alliance System, 1968–1989.” Foreign Policy Review (Budapest), Vol. 3, No. 1 (2004), 87–127.
  11. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 2.
  12. Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)., 72.
  13. Thanks to Zoltán Ginelli for drawing my attention to this.
  14. James Mark and Quinn Slobodian, “Eastern Europe,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Ends of Empire, eds. Martin Thomas and Andrew Thompson, Jan 2018 DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198713197.013.20.
  15. See Zoltán Ginelli, Ibid.
  16. James Mark and Péter Apor, “Socialism Goes Global: Decolonization and the Making of a New Culture of Internationalism in Socialist Hungary, 1956–1989,” The Journal of Modern History 87, no. 4 (December 2015): 26 – 44., 852-891: 857, 873, 878–879,
  17. Ibid., 882.
  18. Péter Apor, “Szocialista migráció, posztkolonializmus és szolidaritás: Magyarország és az Európán kívüli migráció” (Socialist migration, postcolonialism, and solidarity: Hungary and non-European migration) Antro-pólus 2 (2017): 26–44.
  19. Ibid, 27, 33.
  20. See more on this in the essay by László Zsuzsa in this issue, “Limits of Solidarity. Hungarian Intelligentsia and the Middle East in the Cold War,” Mezosfera Issue No 5, Refractions of Socialist Solidarity, ed. Eszter Szakács (Budapest: 2018),
  21. The venue where Two Meetings and a Funeral by Naeem Mohaiemen was presented is the same auditorium of the Center of the Metalworkers’ Union where László Rajk’s show trial took place almost 70 years ago, in 1949. See more on this in the Introduction to the issue: Eszter Szakács, “Refractions of Socialist Solidarity. An Introduction to Issue 5,” Mezosfera Issue No 5, Refractions of Socialist Solidarity, ed. Eszter Szakács (Budapest:, 2018),
  22. More specifically, the case was that the leftist, state-socialist position was pro-Palestinian, while, the underground radical leftist position was pro-Israeli (and more Western-oriented). See more on this in László Zsuzsa, Ibid.
  23. James Mark and Péter Apor, 853.
  24. Ibid., 853, 860.
  25. Ibid., 861, 870.
  26. See Zsuzsa László, Ibid.
  27. James Mark and Péter Apor, Ibid., 861, footnote 32.
  28. György Makai, California! (Budapest: Kossuth, 1973), blurb.
  29. Ibid, 5.
  30. László Gulyás, Saudi Arabia and the Atlantic Powers Under the Reign of King Saud I and King Saud II (1950–1958), PhD Thesis (University of Szeged, Department of Humanities, Doctoral School in History, 2016), 16.
  31. László J. Nagy (2006); László J. Nagy, Magyarország és az arab világ 1947–1989 (Hungary and the Arab World 1947–1989) (Szeged: JATEPress, 2017).
  32. Gábor Búr, “Hungarian Diplomacy and the Non-Aligned Movement in the Cold War” in Österreich und Ungarn im Kalten Krieg eds. István Majoros – Zoltán Maruzsa – Oliver Rathkolb (Wien – Budapest: ELTE Új- és Jelenkori Egyetemes Történeti Tanszék – Universität Wien, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, 2010), 353– 372.
  33. Ibid. Hungary became a member of the UN in 1955.
  34. Gusztáv Kecskés, “The Suez Crisis and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution,” East European Quarterly, volume XXXV, Spring 2001, No. 1, 47-58. (USA) (English version of the Postface to the Hungarian edition of Denis Lefebvre’s L’Affaire de Suez, Budapest, Osiris, 1999.
  35. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 4, 6, and László J. Nagy (2006), 69.
  36. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 5.
  37. Ibid, 9.
  38. L. Vatolina, Az Egyesült Arab Köztársaság Gazdaság (Economy of the United Arab Republic), translated from Russian to Hungarian by Sándor Pirityi. (Budapest: Kossuth, 1962), quote from the blurb. Translated to English by the author.
  39. Zoltán Ginelli, Ibid., as well as Csaba Békés and Dániel Vékony, “Unfulfilled Promised Lands: Missed Potentials in Relations Between Hungary and the Countries of the Middle East, 1955–75,” In Warsaw Pact Intervention in the Third World: Aid and Influence in the Cold War, eds. Philip E. Muehlenbeck and Natalia Telepneva. (London and New York, I. B. Tauris, 2018). 271–297.
  40. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 20.
  41. James Mark and Quinn Slobodian, 5.
  42. The Middle East and World Peace. Course leaflet for the course Questions of World Politics and World Economy offered by the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. Written by György Makai. (Budapest: Kossuth, 1969)
  43. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony eds, 8.
  44. György Makai, Today’s Questions. What are Arabs  Fighting for? (Budapest: Kossuth, 1971), 5. Translated to English by the author
  45. Philip Muehlenbeck and Natalia Telepneva,, 330
  46. Pál Germuska, “A közel-keleti magyar haditechnikai export kezdetei” (The beginning of Hungarian military technology exports in the Middle East) In: Évkönyv 2003 XI, eds. János Rainer M. and Éva  Standeisky (Budapest, 2003,1956-os Intézet, 2003), 84.
  47. Csaba Békés and Dániel Vékony, 286.
  48. Op. cit.
  49. László J. Nagy, Ibid., 99.
  50. Op.cit.
  51. Csaba Békés and Dániel Vékony, 285.
  52. Pál Germuska, 85.
  53. László J. Nagy, (2006), 110., and Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 12.
  54. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 12.
  55. Op. cit.
  56. Based on available press photos.
  57. László J. Nagy (2006), 101.
  58. Based on the dates of available press photos
  59. Mohamad Bazzi, “What Did Qaddafi’s Green Book Really Say?” The New York Times, May 27, 2011,
  60. Balázs Orbán-Schwarczkopf COCOM-tól a SZETÁ-ig, Kadhafitól a Vörös Brigádokig. Napi Operatív Információs Jelentések, 1982. Január–március, Betekintő 2 (2007). Thanks to Zsuzsa László for drawing my attention to this.
  61. László J. Nagy (2006), 121.
  62. László J. Nagy, 101.
  63. László J. Nagy (2006), 7; László J. Nagy (2017), 5.
  64. Jame Mark – Péter Apor, 866.
  65. What Should We Know About Palestinians? Written by Sándor Böcz, (Budapest: Kossuth, 1981), 208.
  66. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony eds, 7.
  67. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 72–73. Translated by Sabine Topolansky.
  68. László J. Nagy, Magyarország és az arab világ 1947–1989 (Hungary and the Arab World 1947–1989) (Szeged: JATEPress, 2017), 228. Also, As J. Nagy note, in addition to the PLO, Hungary financially supported the two left-wing organizations as well, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, J. Nagy (2017), Op.cit.
  69. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 7. Until today there are bilateral relations: the Embassy of the State of Palestine operates in Budapest, and there is a Representative Office of Hungary in Ramallah.

    [caption id=”attachment_8114354″ align=”alignnone” width=”700″

  70. Tamás Elter, “Negyven éve rejtély a haláljárat sorsa”, September 30, 2015, All these information is based on several articles and the documentary (2008), Thanks to Zsuzsa László for pointing this out to me.
  71. Farouk Dawass, Palestinians and SelfDetermination (Budapest: Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, Institute of Social Sciences) 1983, 7-8.
  72. Ibid
  73. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 18.
  74. Csaba Békés, László J. Nagy, and Dániel Vékony, 21.
  75. Csaba Békés, “Hungarian Foreign Policy in the Soviet Alliance System”.
  76. László J. Nagy, Ibid (2017), 258.
  77. László J. Nagy, Ibid (2017), 259.
  78. Alexander Makov, “Research Notes: Soviet Filmmakers In Africa, 1960–1980s,” in Saving Bruce: African and Arab Cinema In The Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy (A Prologue), curated by Koyo Kouoh and Rasha Salti) (Moscow: GARAGE, 2015).

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