David Mandler

Thoughts, feelings, reactions on Hungarian, American, Israeli, Jewish issues

College Applications and Parents: Becoming a Constructive Presence

As an involved parent of a high school senior, you can become a significant source of comfort (or stress) in the next few months as your child embarks on the long journey known as the college application process. With professional support services available at your school’s college office and guidance suites, you may be wondering about your role in the process. The most important way you can help your child is by establishing a supportive home environment, keeping your conversations about college positive and setting realistic goals. Let’s examine what concrete steps you can take to help your child succeed with as little unnecessary added stress as possible.

First, it’s important to have the right perspective on what is at stake: getting into a college that is the best fit for your child. Most people’s first instinct is to think of the so-called brand name colleges as if those were the only great schools available. Stepping back and considering what makes a college great may be an important preliminary step. For me, a great school is one that offers challenging, rigorous coursework in a challenging environment that helps open doors to graduate school or professional opportunities. Your view of what makes a school great may be different from mine and, more importantly, different from your child. Have a conversation with him or her to find out. It may change the way you feel and allow for the two of you to develop a common purpose. No matter the definition, many great choices exist outside of the brand name schools and your child will get into one of them.

Second, be prepared to do some homework. A Google search can reveal much about tuition costs, scholarships, loans, majors offered, the faculty, and the facilities available at universities and colleges with online presence. After you have narrowed down your choice to a diverse list of, say, five schools (from CUNY, SUNY, public and private), ask your child to do further research on schools of interest. Set some deadlines by which you want your child to obtain more detailed information on the schools in order to facilitate a meaningful conversation about each school. This way, you can listen to why your child offer an informed opinion about why s/he would like to attend school X, Y or Z and discuss the upsides and downsides of each. The final list, according to a counselor colleague of mine with many years of experience, should be between 8 to 12 schools (2-3 safety schools, 5-7 target schools, and 2-3 reaches).

Third, encourage your child to begin working on the college essay right away. Producing polished essays and supplements is extremely time consuming. It will take months for the process to play out from start to finish. With grades for the first three years of high school and extracurricular activities already set in stone, the written piece is the only variable still under control. Since the college application is a holistic process—admissions officers weigh every facet of the applicants’ academic performance from grades, teacher recommendations, personality traits and other, often quite nebulous factors—individual admissions offices place varying degrees of importance on the college essay. Still, it’s fair to assume that a poorly written essay, riddled with grammatical errors or one with the wrong tone packed with unrealistic and generic moral messages can only cause serious harm while, conversely, an essay with a genuine voice that reveals something essential about the faceless applicant’s personality can only boost one’s chances of admission.

One of the unintended benefits of seniors focusing some energy on producing the college essay is that it gives a boost to their writing skills. For this to happen, students need some guidance. Specifically, they need to do a series of writing exercises, read successful college essays (and their draft progressions) with analysis, along with some tips on grammar and structure. You may be of much help. Purchase a college essay guidebook that contains all of the above. Beyond that, let your child do the actual work of writing and revising the essay. Read drafts only in case your child asks for your input. Let English teachers and guidance counselors read drafts and offer suggestions. If no such help is available at your child’s school, consider hiring a tutor who specializes in college essay writing.

The college application process places a lot of stress on everyone involved. Stay informed, but allow your child to do the work with the help of school counselors. A year from now, he or she will be getting ready to attend a school of his or her ultimate choice. By keeping yourself firmly grounded and projecting a positive, helpful aura, you can set the right home atmosphere for your already anxious teenager and, thereby, make a real difference.

David Mandler teaches English at Stuyvesant High School. His most recent book, “The College Essay Guidebook: Writing a Powerful Story about Yourself” is available on amazon.com. Click on this direct link to the book: http://a.co/d/2480cKP You may read his full biography and see his books on www.amazon.com/author/davidmandler and follow him on twitter @MandlerDr.


Niagara Falls, a Poem

                                                                   Niagara Falls

Free falling with a gasping, gurgling crash,
     reborn each second in mighty languor,
     a stretched out sheet of water, both confident and brash,
invisibly scraping the rocks in frothy anger,

You echo the wounded giant’s sound,
     as selfie-taking crowds size you up in wonder,
     desperate to cage you in, a howling hound,
taking your blithe murmurs for Zeus’ long-lost thunder.

Floating in the shadow of your glory,
     lost in joy, my messy ego turned to clear, viscous jelly,
     a leased skeleton with a finite story,
I tremble in darkness as dawn dances in my aching belly.

© David Mandler
July 27th, 2018, Niagara Falls, Canada
(Revised on August 1, 2018 in Brooklyn, New York)

***Click on Follow on http://www.amazon.com/author/davidmandler for new release updates. You may also follow me on twitter @MandlerDr. I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know what you think of this poem (how you read it) and if you’d be interested in reading more of my poetry. A collection of poems (many of them totally different from this rather formal, stylized one) is in the works.


The Ivies Rejection Blues: Singing Your Own Song

So, that much anticipated and dreaded message from Ivy League School X Y and Z finally arrived informing you that, while your application was strong (you’re great, talented, and wonderful), the school has rejected your application due to the sheer number of qualified candidates. Good luck in your academic career.

Good luck? Go to hell. Is this why I’ve worked so hard for the last three years? Hell, no…for the last eight years ever since my father took me to Harvard and said, “this is where you’ll go to college.” And now, you’re telling me I’m not good enough for Harvard? I’m not good enough for Yale? Heck, not even good enough for Cornell? All these years of busting my chops, doing homework, smiling at the teacher on my way in and on my way out, raising my hand to answer every single question asked, turning in assignments on time all for nothing! So that I can attend Georgetown or Binghampton?

As if Georgetown or Bimghapton or any of your so-called safety schools, which, in reality are fine institutions, were the embodiment of gloom and doom…

Still, quite understandably you keenly feel the sting of rejection at this moment. Moreover, the impact of the message has been magnified tenfold by all those happy, gloating faces on Facebook (“I got in Bovine University! Yay!”) each with two hundred (two thousand?) likes. Even he got in, you’re thinking.

And I. Did. Not.

The more you think about it, the worse it gets. The many months of preparation, the countless college visits, the perfect (though, admittedly hazy) image of your college freshman self happily ensconced in the ideal dorm room of your fantasy suddenly fades away. Disbelief is replaced by anger. You want to punch the wall—imagining how it’d feel to flatten the happy faces on unhappy Facebook. But why do you have such aggressive thoughts? You do so because you take the decision made by overworked admissions officers who had to go through tens of thousands of college apps in the last few months as a personal rejection. As my students read in the Psychology and Literature course (ah, that accursed Baumeister book with those rambling, dense articles I had to read for no reason), “not only does physical pain increase aggression, but psychological or emotional pain, such as…social exclusion” (Bushman and Bartolow, 314). And boy, you feel socially excluded!

After the momentary fit of rage, dense clouds of melancholy, regret, and depression descend upon your sagging shoulders.

I don’t want to go to class tomorrow. I can’t face those happy faces (and shit). [Oh yes. You curse now more freely—after all, what have you got to lose?]. I can’t even face my own face in the mirror. Sleep. Watch Netflix. Eat. Repeat the cycle. My life is over.

Of course, you know very well that your life is not over—not by a long shot. You may even recall the words of some well-meaning adults who had told you at various points in the past year that the Ivies are not the only way to a successful life (and can even lead to distinctly unsuccessful lives, laden with crushing debt and an even greater sense of failure). Yet, those words now ring hollow. You think you have failed yourself, failed your parents by not being able to “outperform” your some of your friends (and enemies) with “Congratulations!” in their letters.

So what now? Is your life really over? Have you really failed?

If you’re still reading, please allow me to suggest that you have not failed. Despite your best effort (great essay, by the way, which would have been even greater with the help of my brand new College Essay Guidebook—wink wink), “merit” is not enough. There are thousands upon thousands of equally (or even less) qualified candidates admissions officers sift through and often end up choosing people to admit from that pool just as carefully as you draw your next straw out of the box for your afternoon lemonade. To make things even worse, the admissions officer’s judgment may have been affected by such factors as the weather. As Vos and Luce assert in Advanced Social Psychology, “On sunny days, admission officers give more weight to whether the applicant has social or extracurricular activities on his or her application whereas on overcast days they more heavily consider the applicant’s academic record” (749). The point is this: the fact that you have not been admitted to a single Ivy League school (or to your dream school) is not a testament to your failure as a student. Skipping classes and work from now on (I’m so done with school) and giving up on learning as the manifest reaction, though, may just be.

Your life is not over and you know it. You’ve already been admitted to a number of other schools and are about to be admitted to some others (with or without financial aid). The school you will ultimately choose will provide you with the skills and experiences you’ll need to succeed in whatever field you choose to enter. You may even find that none of the predetermined paths in life work for you and decide to carve out a path of your own. How do I know this? Honestly, I don’t. I’m just saying it to make you feel better. But to be serious once more, I have a hunch based on the fact that you’ve put so much energy and effort into trying to get into your dream school. For that, my friend, is what you need to live a meaningful life: focus, determination, and intellectual curiosity.

You’ll also need something else: a firm, inner-compass, which is not subject to the magnetic attractions of popular opinion regarding the nature of success. For now that the default pat-on-the-back (coupled with unspoken envy) due all Ivy League college students will not be part of your life (unless you find yourself in an Ivy League graduate school), you are freed from some of the possibly suffocating external expectations that may have weighed you down for years and are free to change or refine your own definition of success.

Right now, you may feel as if you had just lost somebody near and dear. Indeed, you’ve lost such long-time acquaintances as Ms. Yale Harvard and Mr. Princeton Dartmouth. And as with any loss, you have already shifted into mourning mode.

I totally understand. For, while I only applied to two colleges as a high school senior (and felt a strong sense of gratitude when Brooklyn College admitted me), I can still recall just how lousy it felt to receive polite rejection letters day after day from “great” graduate schools such as Columbia, Yale, and Princeton. “Even” CUNY’s Graduate Center (which in actuality is also a great school) rejected my application. Still, when NYU admitted me into its MA/PhD track in English (albeit without any financial aid), the path before me lit up towards, well, more rejections from tenure-track positions and, after years of teaching as an adjunct professor, towards the Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Queens (3 years) and Stuyvesant High School (8 years and counting).

When my scholarly book, Arminius Vambery and the British Empire: Between East and West appeared in 2016, I felt a great and a half-serious sense of vindication. Columbia, Yale, Princeton, schools that many years before had deemed me unsuitable as a potential scholar, obtained a copy of my humble book on their shelves. What I could not internalize at the time of the rejection letters and only realized quite recently was that I, too, was not deemed as an unsuitable scholar but, rather, was beaten out by somebody just as suitable as I was. Again, it was a luck-of-the-draw. Yet, what matters in this anecdotal situation is that I ended up producing a significant scholarly book (as the reviewers seem to agree) and, to some extent, did it on my own terms.

Similarly, you, too, will end up producing worthwhile work even compared to your “fortunate” friends.  What you need to focus on is that the keys to your happiness and well-being are already on your keychain.

Now, go find them and write your own book.

Follow me on Twitter@MandlerDr or on www.amazon.com/author/davidmandler
If you’d like to “pay it forward,” get a copy of my book for a junior now as a surprise  The College Essay Guidebook: Writing a Powerful Story about Yourself 

The Facebook page of my press https://www.facebook.com/ergosumpress/   “Like” it for updates on all publications.



Arminius Vambery and the British Empire Book Discount Flyer

Arminius Vambéry is one of the most fascinating figures in modern Jewish history, and David Mandler has provided us with a magnificent depiction of his remarkable life as a traveler to Muslim lands, a linguist, and the toast of nineteenth-century London high society.

–Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College

David Mandler’s exceptionally fine book is a critical biography of Arminius Vambéry, a polymath linguist, traveler, and diplomatic adviser in nineteenth-century Europe. The book offers a human story of this linguistic genius as he grew up in segregated areas of Austria-Hungary but came to know Sultans and Queen Victoria. It also provides an intellectual history of Vambéry’s development of Middle Eastern studies and linguistics, placing him very interestingly in relation to later Orientalists. Dr. Mandler also gives us a compelling story of Vambéry’s importance in nineteenth-century diplomatic and literary relations. This is a sophisticated work that should make a name for Vambéry and for his author—in Vambéry’s case restoring him to his nineteenth-century brilliance and importance.

–John Maynard, New York University

This book challenges and refines Edward Said’s thesis in Orientalism by demonstrating the fundamental role played in the field by the Jewish Hungarian Orientalists Arminius Vambéry and Ignác Goldziher. Their Eastern European origins—in the context of a cultural milieu set on the borders of Europe and Asia in which Islamic and Christian traditions were in certain ways quite closely intertwined—meant that their Orientalist scholarship was not constructed in the absence of the human and social reality that it described, nor was it consciously or unconsciously motivated in terms of an over-riding imperial politics. Dr. Mandler’s important book thus transforms the widespread view that sees Orientalism simply as the West’s construction of the East, and it demonstrates the importance of Hungarian scholarship for European Islamic Studies.

–Robert J. C. Young, New York University

By digging into Hungarian-language sources, David Mandler has revealed a much more nuanced picture of the ‘oriental’ Orientalist Arminius Vambéry. Mandler does a fine job of correcting previous indictments of Vambéry’s ‘charlatanism’ (including that of the great Arabist Ignác Goldziher) and shows us a Vambéry who was, for his day, a well-informed and sympathetic Islamist and an insightful liberal commentator on European political and religious affairs.

–Suzanne Marchand, Louisiana State University

Strand Bookstore is selling the book for half price at $40.  


If Strand is sold out, the publisher, Rowman and Littlefield, has extended its promotional discount period into 2018 for 30%. Here is the flyer with all the information you’ll need:
Mandler_Flyer_Updated (2)

If you’d rather read it at your local library (especially if your local library is a college or university library), I urge you to take the flyer to a librarian and request that the library purchase a copy. Thank you in advance for making the effort to publicize and find new readers for my book.

My amazon author page may be found here. Please click on the Follow tab!



The College Essay Guidebook is Here!

It gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of my newest book, The College Essay Guidebook: Writing a Powerful Story about Yourself. This roadmap to self-discovery and effective writing includes the following: a comprehensive program of writing discoveries designed to culminate in an outstanding college essay; a clear and concise explanatory section on grammar necessary for producing smooth prose and an essential checklist for revisions; practical advice on the writing and admissions process provided by ten high school seniors admitted to selective colleges and from two admissions officers; three college essays including analysis and writing prompts and an appendix with draft progressions from two students admitted to highly selective colleges. It is the perfect gift for anyone who’d like to write a genuine, effective, and a powerful personal essay, especially for high school seniors applying to college. 


Plakátmagány: Szeressük, vagy utáljuk Sorost?

Most akkor szeressük vagy utáljuk Sorost? Mit mondjunk a gyerekeknek?

Hogyan reagáltak a gyerekek arra, hogy július első felében minden nagyobb reklámfelületen egy idős bácsi mosolygott? Kíváncsiságukból fakadva vajon milyen kérdéseket tett fel szüleinek vagy nagyszüleinek a hároméves Pistike Jászberényben, a négyéves Kata Balatonfüreden, az ötéves Jocó Kiskunfélegyházán, vagy a tizenhárom éves Beni Budapesten? És milyen válaszokat kaphattak a huszonöt éves Marikától Jászberényben, a harmincéves Zsigától Balatonfüreden, a negyvenöt éves Zolitól Kiskunfélegyházán, vagy a nyolcvanéves Irén Mamától Budapesten?

– Tudod, én sem igazán értem ezt, Pisti. (Micsoda? Mami nem ért valamit?) Nem tudom, ki ez a Soros, de sok jót nem nézek ki belőle. Azt mondják, rosszat akar nekünk magyaroknak. Különben nem rakták volna ki mindenhova. (Jó. Akkor nem szeretem.)

– Ez Soros György, egy zsidó! Nézd azt az undorító vigyorgó pofáját. Ilyenek a zsidók, Kati. Migráncsokat akar behozni hozzánk. (Kiket? Mik azok? Mint a poloskák?) Igen, a migráncs az nem olyan, mint mi. Dolgozni sem akar, csak élősködni rajtunk, és kihasználni. Mint a zsidók!

– Soros György a neve. Baromi sok pénze van. Nem tudom, hogy csinálta, de biztos nem tisztességesen. Spekuláns. Eddig se szerettem, de Jocókám, most már hangosan is kimondhatom az utcán. És te is! Ezentúl, ha valaki azt mondja, hogy hát nem is annyira rossz ez a csávó, bebaszhatsz neki. Mindenki megérti majd. A Viktor is utálja.

– Soros György. Magyarországról ment el a háború után innen Budapestről, akkortájt bujkált keresztény papírokkal, vagy nem tudom, hogyan. Valami disznóságot is csinált tizenévesen a nagybátyjával együtt, zsidókat adott fel, vagy mi, de nem tudom már pontosan, mit is. Utána kiment Amerikába. Nagyon gazdag lett pénzügyi befektetőként. Orbán Viktor ezt spekulánsnak nevezi. Nem érdekes, hogy Warren Buffettet nem nevezi annak? Pedig Buffettnek még több pénze van, úgy tudom. Na, mindegy. Szóval azt kérded, szeressük vagy utáljuk Sorost. Nem tudom. Úgy hallottam, hogy egész életében nem adott semmi támogatást zsidóknak, vagy zsidó célokra. Számomra ez nem annyira szimpatikus. Valami meghasadhatott benne a háborúban. Három felesége közül csak a második volt zsidó származású. Az első egy igazi német volt! Úgy tudom, a mostani felesége negyven évvel fiatalabb nála! (Biztos a szépségéért ment hozzá Soroshoz, nagyi.) Úgy bizony. Na, de az az ő dolga. Én azért nem csípem ezt a Sorost, mert Izraelre nem úgy tekint, mint egy csodára, hanem mint egy elnyomó államra. (Kiket nyom el?) Jajj, hát ez egy bonyolult kérdés. Majd máskor megbeszéljük. Röviden, sokak szerint a palesztinokat. Soros az emberi jogok nevében eldobta a saját zsidóságát. Nem értem. Azt hitte, hogy pont ő tud elmenekülni a zsidósága elől? Hiszen elég csak ránézni a punimjára. A plakátokon láthatod te is, Beni. Azért rakták rá… Csak azt felejti el, hogy ha az embereknek jogaik vannak, akkor értelemszerűen kötelességeik is vannak. Az egyik ilyen: a mások jogainak a tiszteletben tartása. Na, de ez is egy más téma. (Akkor miért ne utáljuk, nagyi?) Először is, mert nekünk nem szabad utálnunk senkit. Másodszor, a pénzét a világ jobbá tételére használta fel, még ha én nem is értek mindennel egyet, amit csinált. De az biztos, hogy egy jó egyetemet csinált, sokat költött a művészetre, könyvkiadásra, kultúrára. Mégis most hivatalosan utálni kell, mert a Viktor nem bírja elviselni. (Nagyi. Nem értem az egészet). Tudom, Beni. Bizonyára sokan vagyunk így. Ezt nehéz megérteni. Az emberek bonyolultak, összetett lények. Te is az vagy. Én is az vagyok. Még az a szerencsénk, hogy a miniszterelnökünk csak jó!

A mindent ellepő Soros-plakátokat látván hány magyar gyermek fejében foganhatott meg az a tévhit, hogy a nevető bácsi egy gonosz, rosszindulatú alak, akit nemcsak hogy szabad utálni, hanem egyenesen kell is? És hány kisgyermek vonta le a szüleivel való beszélgetése után azt a mérhetetlenül káros következtetést, hogy a plakátokról rájuk nevető arc nem is egy ember arca, hanem egy gonosz, mindenhol jelen lévő, mindent kontrolláló természetfeletti ördögi erő megtestesítése, hiszen az mindenhol ott van?

És ez az, amiért Orbán sorosozó kampánya és az azt látszólag támogató izraeli miniszterelnök, Benjamin Netanyahu állásfoglalása megbocsáthatatlan. Mert amikor az állam egy országos méretű kampányban legitimálja az Ember dehumanizációját – legyen az öreg, fiatal, jó vagy rossz –, akkor az nem eredményezhet mást, mint a civilizációs álarc félrelebbenését, a leghitványabb emberi ösztönök felszínre jutását és az azt követő elállatiasodott önzést, kirekesztést, és szabad gyűlölethullámot.

És ez az, amiért olyan sokan vontak párhuzamot a náci propaganda és Orbán Viktor sorosozó plakátjai között. Bár a plakátok mehetnek a kukába, a gyerekek emlékezetéből nem lesz könnyű kitörölni azt a tudatot, hogy egy embert felsőbb sugallatra metaforikusan el kell taposni (ezt egy magánakció jóvoltából szó szerint is végre lehetett hajtani a villamos padlóján), mert az már nem is egy ember, hanem egy mindenhol jelen levő sátáni figura.

Egy nyílt társadalomban mindenkinek a magánügye, hogy szereti, utálja, szereti is meg utálja is Sorost, vagy bámilyen más módon értékeli személyét, filozófiáját és tevékenységét. Orbán plakátkampánya egy magánügyet kényszerített a gyerekek fejébe, egyetlen államilag támogatott, leeegyszerűsített válasszal.

–Szíves figyelmükbe ajánljuk Mandler Dávid, Kelet és Nyugat mezsgyéjén: Vámbéry Ármin és a Brit Birodalom címû könyvét.

Kamuszervezet fantomrabbijai védik Orbán Viktort

Valami nagyon nem stimmel azzal a közleménnyel, amelyet Magyarország New York-i Főkonzulátusa tett közzé június 29-én. Ebben az Egyesült New York-i Ortodox Gyülekezetek néven feltüntetett szervezet 11, a főkonzulátus leírása szerint “egykori magyarországi és a történelmi Magyarország területéről származó New York-i közösségek vezető szerepet betöltő rabbija” a Horthy Miklóst egy beszédében kivételes államférfiként emlegető, történelmi szerepét magasztaló és ezzel nagy felháborodást kiváltó Orbán Viktor védelmére siet. A hír percek alatt bejárta a legolvasottabb és a legszélsőségesebb magyar hírportálokat is.

De mi is ez a szervezet, és kik is ezek a rabbik?

Az interneten United Orthodox Congregations of New York nevű szervezet nem létezik. Ha mégsem csak papíron él egy ilyen nevezetű szervezet, akkor ez a tényleges tömörülés leginkább A Pál utcai fiúkból ismert gittegylethez hasonlítható.

Először is, az erősen amatőr jellegű fejlécen feltüntetett cím alatt semmilyen szervezet nincs bejegyezve. A szatmári haszid közösség által lakott Williamsburgben feltüntetett lakás (suite 4 R) tulajdonosa egy bizonyos M. Hofman úr, akinek a neve elsőként bukkan fel mint a közleményt aláírt állítólagos rabbik egyike.

A felsorolt 11 rabbiból egyedül egy ma is élő személyt sikerült valamelyest beazonosítani. Rabbi M. Polatcheck (feltéve, hogy azonos a matzav.com nevű honlapon feltüntetett Rav Yehuda Meshulem Dov Polatcheckkel) a Hisachdus nevű kóser ételeket felügyelő szervezet egyik rabbija. Ez messze nem egy vezető rabbi titulus.

Ha a kamuszervezet fantomrabbijai nem tennék világossá, hogy miről is van itt szó, akkor elég csak rápillantani az úgynevezett közleményre. Az angol nyelv alapvető helyesírási szabályait figyelmen kívül hagyó szöveg feltehetően jiddis anyanyelvű szerzője Victor Orben [sic!] érdemeként jeleníti meg a nácik által megszentségtelenített magyarországi zsidó temetők helyrehozatalát és karbantartását. Mintha a nácik által megszentségtelenített zsidó sírkövek 1945 óta Orbán Viktor kegyes támogatására vártak volna lerombolt állapotban.

Mintha a zsidó infrastruktúra fejlesztésére elkülönített állami támogatás ettől a kamuszervezettől függene. És, mintha Orbán Viktor “a zsidóknak” tett úgymond szívességei semlegesítenék Horthy Miklós történelmi szerepének ilyen mértékű felértékelését.

A közlemény utolsó bekezdése olyannyira csapnivaló angolsággal íródott, hogy az önmagáért beszél. Idézem: “We are, and always be indebted to them for their continues help and cooperation, and look forward to continue this positive relationship,”

Bizony, ez a mondat, úgy mint az összes többi, vesszővel zárul!

De ami engem, egy angoltanárt, arra késztetett, hogy órákat szánjak arra, hogy utánanézzek ennek a kamuszervezetnek, és megírjam ezt a kis cikket, az a közlemény (nagylelkűen lefordított) záró mondata: “azok, akik ezt az [Orbán elleni] izgatást vezetik, nem reprezentálnak minket, illetve semmilyen más ortodox zsidó csoportot.”

Mintha ez a magáról eddig semmilyen életjelt nem adó kamutársaság bármit vagy bárkit is reprezentálna! Hát nem. Ez egy nyilvánvaló és teljesen átlátszó médiatrükk. Hogy kik eszelték ki, azt majd talán valaki tényleg felkutatja. Számomra a legszomorúbb az, hogy még az index.hu is felült a lóra, és egy az egyben leközölte ezt a kamuhírt a legalapvetőbb oknyomozást mellőzve New York-i rabbik megvédték Orbán Viktort cím alatt.

Hát akkor hadd áruljam el: a New York-i amerikai ortodox zsidók, akikkel napi szinten érintkezem, szinte semmit sem tudnak Horthyról. Az ortodox zsidó túlélő ismerőseim viszont annál inkább. A napról napra csökkenő körükben Horthy Miklós neve az úri antiszemitizmussal, a zsidókat a magyar közéletből, gazdaságból és végezetül en bloc az életből kitaszító erő megtestesítője.

Félő, hogy az a miniszterelnök, aki Horthy Miklóst kivételes államférfinek tartja, maga is pont olyan kivételes államférfivá válhat, mint példaképe.

Ha ez egy izgató kijelentés, akkor azt nagyon nem sajnálom.

Szíves figyelmükbe ajánlom Kelet és nyugat mezsgyéjén. Vámbéry Ármin és a Brit Birodalom című könyvem.

Követhet a Twitter-en @MandlerDr

Arminius Vámbéry on Education in the East and the West

In 2007, my translation of Arminius Vambery’s Memoirs of a Tartar appeared in an interdisciplinary journal called Shofar (see From the Memoirs of a Tartar ♦ 13 Vol. 25, No. 3 ♦ 2007). At the time, two other chapters I translated did not make it into the print version and were uploaded to Shofar’s website. Since that content is no longer available, I have decided to let those who are interested in reading these two fascinating chapters access it here: VamberyAristocracyEducationMandler

“Considering moral education, in the realm of feelings and attributes of the heart, we incontrovertibly surpass the Frenghis, no matter how the latter praise their humanism, since our merhameti Islam or Muslim compassion greatly outshines them. As a dervish in Asia and a fakir in Europe, I have had the opportunity to witness compassion in these two worlds, and comparing the two, I have found that the Frenghis’ benevolence is not directly correlated to their wealth and affluence, and that people with us, living in humble or poor circumstances, are more inclined to perform good deeds sincerely and surpass the West in the noble virtue of compassion. In any case, one should applaud those extremely rich Frenghis who establish humanitarian endowments when they give millions to open schools, hospitals, and poor houses or respect those philanthropist Frenghis who act in distant lands in order to liberate and ennoble humanity regardless of color or creed. Moreover, this is the more praiseworthy considering the fact that Muslim compassion mostly extends towards fellow Muslims and does not provide as much help to people of different religions as the religious Christian does towards Muslims or heathens. But this virtuous performance of the Frenghis is restricted to a few benevolent and noble-thinking individuals and is not prevalent in society, whereas, thankfully, it is so in the Islamic world. In times past, when God’s blessing along with power and wealth were ours, we also had famous philanthropists who lived humbly yet gave millions to construct roads, sewers, wheat or rye warehouses, hospitals, schools, etc., with the difference that they hoped to receive a fatiha (silent prayer) from the beneficiaries of their endowments, while many Frenghis hope to receive the sparkling signs of imperial grace or the wonderment of the masses. This golden era has disappeared a long time ago, yet compassion and beneficence have survived even in impoverished circumstances. We still share our meager meals and dilapidated apartments eagerly with the needy because giving alms is one of the main pillars of our religion and, as experience has taught me, more people die of hunger in a major European city than in the entire Muslim world in years. Such examples in the obdurate and heartless Frenghi societies are but natural consequences of the greed and feverish money chasing, and, frequently, not even a spark of humanism appears in the wild orgies of miserliness. Horribly naked selfishness is much more at home with them than it ever was in Asia!

But even when it comes to tenderness, good manners and ethics, the palm of superiority could scarcely be extended to the Frenghis despite their frequent requests for it. That in Asia, people transgress less in their ethical or moral behavior than does the European is readily admitted to by those acquainted with our world. Family life is much purer with us than in the West where the repulsive cloacae of prostitution is not only accepted but is regulated by the authorities. We respect our elders more and value our thinkers more than in the West; but even the women find more protection with us; while the Frenghi women can travel alone in our midst without being disturbed, I would not advise any Muslim woman to travel alone in the West because the Frenghis frequently cannot even protect their own wives from being assaulted. Despite their poor appearance, many a Persian, Turk, or Arab, despite being illiterate, proves to be more polite, dignified, and well-brought-up than the European who exudes elegance and cultivation. Not only is this the case in the higher circles of our society in which etiquette and politeness frequently degenerate into servile submission, but also in the lowest social strata of the artisans and peasants. Anyone comparing the behavior of simple Persian or Arab peasants with their counterparts in the Western world would find my above assessment correct. German, French, and English peasants appear unpolished, hapless, slow, and graceless or clumsy compared to the peasants of Muslim Asia whose refined manners and speech have enchanted many a Frenghi traveler. The forms of ancient Asian culture have become imprinted deeper than the relatively younger European culture, and the reason the ancient culture has not elevated everywhere the people’s moral standing or purged their morality is to be found in the rule of tyranny, which has been in force since antiquity.

The perpetual pressures under which our fellow countrymen live have spawned cunning and dishonesty everywhere. And just as snakes curl up when stepped upon, so do the people in their thinking without, however, damaging honesty in our lives, our families, and our more immediate society as I have witnessed in the Frenghi world. With us, it is unheard of and impossible to find the phenomenon of a few individuals causing enormous amounts of damage to the masses, the unflinching exploitation of profit-chasing Europeans, or the heartless offenses against life and property. It was the Europeans who, in order to enrich themselves using fraudulent insurance claims, hid bombs on ships, endangering the lives of hundreds; others, induced by a desire to increase profits, poisoned the food supply of entire towns to exterminate their residents; still others spread false news, thereby casting thousands into poverty. Indeed, Asia has never been this low and vulgar! On the other hand, I do not want to conceal my opinion that only in the unification of the ethical and intellectual strands of education have I found the most effective means of defense against the wickedness and falseness of humanity, and color or religion notwithstanding, humanity can be ennobled only through high culture.

When I recall my sojourning with the totally primitive Turkomans—nomads who have heard little of Islam or other religions—and when I envision those ancient types of humanity who could distinguish between good and evil only with the help of their whims and individual apprehensions as governed merely by Deb (laws of habit) and still rarely transgressed morality, I imagine witnessing the first stage of cultural life. The second stage in Muslim culture is occupied by a somewhat progressive individual who is a transitional, half- finished creature, standing behind these nomads without being bested by his European counterpart, while the thoroughly educated Muslim should be viewed as occupying the highest stage if his ethical education keeps up with his intellectual one, and if modern science has completely illuminated him. If I were to measure the various levels of education among Frenghis with the same standards, I would find mostly similar results. There are no totally primitive uneducated Frenghis today. Here, people can be divided into uneducated, semi-educated, and totally educated individuals. The first are rough, uncouth, but are not devoid of a few pleasant characteristics that would remind us in their simplicity of cavemen. Almost everywhere, these people are used as blind tools in the hands of the ruling classes, and their enlightenment proceeds but very slowly. The semi-educated comprise the majority of the Frenghis, or even their totality, since the thoroughly educated make up such a vanishingly small percentage of the total population that they may be compared to the stars in the night, the lights of which are but pale, barely illuminating the sky without shedding any significant light onto the earth. Though they have begun the journey with increasing inclination, having the means of learning at their disposal in abundance, real and serious cultivation, humanity’s real ennoblement is in its beginning stages even amidst the wealthy and powerful in Europe ruling the rest of humanity. What you see from the distance and find so attractive is merely false gold, only the red glow of the rising sun but not the beaming rays that they want us to believe.

I find this deception, to which I also became a victim at first, totally natural. The incomparable greatness of a comfortable life, spread all over in the West, has enabled the middle class to take possession of all those formalities and means that, at first glance, make them appear to be refined creatures, enlightened by culture. In their clothing, manners, speech, and hand gestures, and in their treatment of people, and their short allusions to science and culture, one might take them to be perfect representatives of 19th century progressivism. In most cases, however, this is but a very thin exterior veil of culture covering their nonchalance, ignorance, and bestial nature. While culture may have lapped around them, they parade empty formalities, throw around morsels of musical, artistic, or literary culture, however, very quickly revealing their rough core and bestiality. To be honest, we should call these Europeans culture-beasts [kultúrállatok] who, in addition, impertinently boast, and look down upon us because we do not dress as elegantly, do not paint our faces, and cannot babble so much stupidity about novels or the theater. The culturebeast still occupies the highest positions in the cultural world in Europe and does not merely appear in the middle class. The circle of the greatest lords and the aristocracy, almost without exception, belongs to this crowd. A real cultured person is one whose interior has been reshaped by the modern spirit of the age. A Westerner we could choose as an example who is truly enlightened and bereft of prejudices is indeed a great rarity.

Thus, the Frenghis, I think, are not at all justified to regard themselves as demi-gods and to impress us with their general education. We have to admit, as we do so now, that they are on a better path and that their circumstances of climate and historical developments were more advantageous, enabling them to reach the goal more easily. The level of education can be discovered most easily by its geographical proliferation. The Eastern part of Europe, in its general education, is about a hundred years behind the Western part. Germans are the most academically oriented people in Europe, but the sad unbalance between cursory apprehension and deep comprehension is felt in every branch of political and civil circles. They resemble a youth who does not know his own strength and abilities and, glancing at his father or guardian standing in front of him at every step, cannot conceive of all the things he will accomplish. The French and the Italians are less well educated in the sciences, are less speculative, but are the more inclined for action. Yet, they are worthy representatives of European intellectual cultivation and as such surpass the Germans. The most perfect embodiment or quintessence of Frenghism are the English and the Americans who are, after all, one and the same nation. Although the Germans surpass them on the scientific field, they are nonetheless at the forefront of European culture, for they are eminent in all those qualities that characterize a Frenghi: political freedoms, the spirit of entrepreneurship, indefatigableness, taking initiatives, perseverance, lack of sentimentality, daring thinking—all of which put them in a diametrically opposite position with the Easterners. I gradually experienced this when I progressed from the inner parts of Turkestan towards the sacred country of the English. I felt quite at home in many respects in Russia, the Austrian provinces and in the Eastern part of Germany. I found people less encumbered by problems, more garrulous and compassionate. They value time more, though, than we do, but they are not as economical with it as the English, and even though they move faster than we do, they do not run around as insanely and unreasonably after business as in England where I was ceaselessly pulled into the mad rush of humanity, pushed and shoved whenever I wanted to stop for a little to rest. Moreover, I swear by Allah, this is not life but rushing around, frenzied raging where even the birds compete in speed with humans.”

–From the Memoirs of a Tartar ♦ 13 Vol. 25, No. 3 ♦ 2007

You may read the entire piece as a pdf file: VamberyAristocracyEducationMandler

The Reunion: A Poem for Yom HaShoah

The Reunion

She saw her mother for the first time in seventy-three years.

Mother, I’m so glad you’re here, she voicelessly yelled,
as the gaunt woman in a blue dress waved at her.
Suddenly, a duet of voices invited her to return
to the empty kitchen table where her two brothers sat.
Ah, my brothers! It’s really you?

What could this mean? Mother and brothers.
Didn’t Mengele send you to the crematorium?

I know eight weeks after that Yom Kippur night
when we both heard the screams of the children
forced out of the dark barracks to be gassed,
with my little brother amongst them,
Mengele shoved you to the other side in Barracks 22.
And that was it. I never saw you again.

Is Papa with you? Oh, how could he be?
He was shot to death two weeks before liberation.

Oh, so much has happened since.
I’m almost 90. You are still just 35.
I missed you. But tonight, the warmth is back.
You are back.

Will I see you again? Will you talk to me again?
How silly of me. This is a dream.
It is just so when each night my husband caresses me or when
I see him sitting on the sofa though it’s been eight months since
he quietly expired at night in bed right next to me.

Mother! You haven’t changed at all. You are so beautiful.
If this is a dream, let it last.

© David Mandler

Follow me on Twitter @MandlerDr Or Amazon.com/author/davidmandler

Sebastian (Vitéz) Gorka: Whispering into Donald Trump’s Right Ear

About a year and a half  after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sebastian Gorka, in a Hungarian-language lecture, proposed that the United States government under the leadership of such Cold War military veterans as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, “found or created” a suitable label in the “ideology” of Islamofascism as a worthy successor to the vanquished ideology of Soviet communism.

Gorka explained to his audience in the Hungarian city of Sopron that the end of the Cold War ushered in a period of unpredictability in the lives of nation states. This period of uncertainty ended after September 11, 2001, when Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda took credit for carrying out the terrorist attacks that shook up the United States with its reverberations felt around the world. The 9/11 attacks finally crystallized in the minds of America’s leaders the next target: a new, “irrational” type of terrorism perpetrated in the service of Islamofascist groups. This type of terrorism was irrational, according to Gorka, because their demands, i.e. the total surrender of the infidel West, conversion, or death, were non-negotiable aims.

Unlike the Soviet Union, this newfound enemy was not deterred by nuclear arms. The military doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) did not apply to Al Qaeda and its later spin offs. For a radical jihadist terrorist organization located in failed states or state sponsors of terrorism could launch attacks in the West without fearing complete annihilation. The American nuclear umbrella, thus, became a liability, rather than an asset to those nations it was designed to protect as America scrambled to find an adequate response to the terrorist threat. Still, NATO countries mobilized and assisted in the removal of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of Iraq.

While skeptical of the American desire to export democracy by force, Gorka, in 2003, expressed sympathy towards the Bush administration because of its conservative character. His two dazzling examples of conservative principles in action consisted of Bush’s institution of a dress code in the White House, namely, making it mandatory for men to wear ties and disallowing women from wearing skirts that did not cover their knees.

As it turned out, America’s military occupation of Iraq produced nothing but carnage and instability and menacing transmutations of Al Qaeda. While radical Islamic terrorism was contained in the United States, it occasionally reared its destructive head in London, Brussels, and Paris. Increasingly, it was a new kid on the block, ISIS, that began to create a humanitarian crisis wherever it spread its sovereign rule.

Only six years after leaving Hungary in order to move to the United States with his American wife, Gorka joined Breitbart News in 2014 as national security and foreign affairs editor. In that role, Gorka contributed to the effort to keep the specter of Islamofascist violence (since its inception mercifully renamed as radical Islamic terrorism) in the forefront of his readers’ consciousness as an urgent threat. And since his striking political ascent to the position of deputy assistant to the President of the United States, Gorka has succeeded in shaping the way Donald Trump sees Muslims and the threat represented even by such a seemingly innocuous event as an interfaith church service at the National Cathedral in Washington (not to mention his absolute public support for the twice attempted and failed executive order banning Muslims from six Muslim countries).

But how did this British-born son of Hungarian refugees end up in such an influential position as assistant deputy to the President? And what does his association with the Hungarian Vitézi Rend really portend?

As the communist regime gained absolute power in 1948, Paul Gorka, aged eighteen, joined an anti-communist organization and was sentenced to ten years in prison after the British double-agent Kim Philby betrayed him. Having endured torture, Paul Gorka escaped his tormentors during the 1956 revolution. He settled down in London and started a family.

Born in 1970, Sebastian Gorka grew up in a fiercely anti-communist, Hungarian nationalist atmosphere, fostered by his father, Paul Gorka. By his own admission, Sebastian Gorka did not speak English as a child until he entered kindergarten. Even at a young age, Gorka was interested in the military. As a result, he went on to serve as a reserve intelligence officer in the British army for up to three years where he may or may not have been involved in intelligence operations after completing his bachelors degree in philosophy and theology at the University of London.

By the end of 1992, Gorka moved back to Hungary. Gorka’s father contacted an acquaintance of his, Colonel General Kálmán Kéri, a newly rehabilitated, unapologetically chauvinistic old soldier of the Horthy regime, in order to secure a position for his son at the Hungarian Ministry of Defense. He did, thereby launching the young man on an impressive career trajectory.

In 2002, the Socialist prime minister, Péter Medgyessy invited him to fill an advisory position. He was ultimately turned away because he allegedly failed the intelligence committee’s vetting process. While working in various capacities at the Ministry of Defense, Gorka entered the Ph.D. at Corvinus University in Budapest in 2002 and obtained his Ph.D. in political science in 2007.

Gorka also tried his luck in Hungarian politics. In 2006, he ran for mayor of Piliscsaba (population 7,466) where he lost to the Socialist candidate. Then, as a critic of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, Gorka attempted to organize an alternative Hungarian right wing party that could challenge Fidesz. This attempt of entering Hungarian politics, too, had failed. It is important to note that in 2007, at least one right-wing online publication, Endre Csapó’s Swedish-Hungarian “Hunsor,” referred to him as vitéz Sebastian Gorka.

How did Gorka become a proud holder of the “vitéz” rank? According to “Vitéz” Sebastian Gorka, the Vitézi Rend medal he wore at President Trump’s inauguration was awarded to his father in 1979 in England to for his fight against communism. He simply inherited it along with the title of Vitéz and meant to honor his father’s anti-communist and anti-fascist past. How and in what capacity Gorka’s father fought the fascists is still unclear. As to who exactly awarded it to Gorka and by what authority in the revived Vitézi Rend in England, it is not publicly known.

So, what is the Vitézi Rend exactly? Originally, it was a Hungarian neo-feudal chivalric order created by the self-professed anti-Semitic Vice-Admiral Miklós Horthy shortly after he took power in 1920. Its express purpose was to create a new, hereditary elite that specifically excluded as ineligible all of the Hungarian Jewish veterans of World War I whom he saw as a threat. According to the Hungarian-born American historian István Deák, the percentage of Jewish reserve officers in the Hungarian Honvedseg in 1911 was as high as 30%.

In a 1939 publication of Vitézek Albuma, the Vitézi Rend was an exclusively Christian, militarist, family-oriented, conservative, revisionist, nationalist, ethnocentric, “Hungary-first” racialist entity from its inception to its legal demise in 1945. The use of the title “vitéz,” a hereditary honorific signifying valor or gallantry much akin to knighthood, was banned in 1947 in Hungary, only to be made legal once again in 2011 under Viktor Orbán’s rule.

Despite its forcible disbandment in Hungary, the Vitézi Rend reconstituted itself in exile and continued to propagate its reactionary ideology. In addition to the old vitéz members, its ranks grew by inducting new members for various nationalistic merits. Since the biggest enemy of Hungarian nationalism was Soviet communism, for the remnants of the old Horthy-inspired expatriates living in Great Britain and elsewhere abroad, those who made contributions in the struggle against communism and were of “pure” Hungarian blood, (read not Jewish Hungarians/Hungarian Jews) must have been ideal candidates.

What is relevant to Americans is not whether or not Gorka is currently a sworn member of the Vitézi Rend. If he is, the organization itself is a burlesque of dissatisfied, aging Hungarian nationalists who make themselves appear important by dressing up in historical uniforms. They have little influence on Hungarian society, which has already shifted considerably to the right under the ruling Fidesz party. What is of importance, rather, is the degree to which Gorka has internalized the reactionary and racialist values this organization represents.

The parallels in the rhetoric of the Vitézi Rend and Trump’s message are striking. Putting Hungary first and protecting Hungary under Horthy, in part, meant denying the Hungarianness of thoroughly assimilated Hungarian Jews while putting in place a legal framework whereby to restrict Jews from entering universities in order to protect “real” Hungarians from Jewish invasion of Hungarian society. It gave rise to a culture of resentment and outright hatred of Jews that spiraled out of control when the the Nazis–with whom Horthy kept up a close but ultimately perilous relationship–occupied Hungary in 1944 and the Hungarian authorities eagerly dispossessed and deported more than half a million Jews who were brutally murdered in various concentration camps.

Recycling old nationalist canards about the purity and superiority of “the nation” under siege by foreigners can easily be translated into a crusade against “criminal” illegal aliens guilty of killing innocent Americans or getting a parking ticket. Of course, with such a constitutively heterogeneous population, American nationalists cannot point to intrinsic ethnic or racial superiority as easily as the equally deluded Hungarian nationalists could. The discourse must be different. Now, it is law abiding American citizens against the lawbreaking “criminal” aliens. And Sebastian Gorka, a “proud American” who was a “proud Hungarian” in close association with Hungary’s radical right-wing members from the heavily anti-Semitic Jobbik Movement just ten years ago, is now in a position to whisper advice based on his view of the world as one that rests on perpetual ideological struggles (currently between the West and Radical Islam) into the right ear of the most powerful political leader on the face of the earth.

Clearly, ISIS and its ilk needs to be defeated completely, and President Trump has said as much. The question is what he means by the word “complete,” and how it can be achieved. If the president merely means the terror group’s total loss of sovereignty over vast swathes of land in Iraq and Syria then American victory will be just as pyrrhic as it was in Iraq under Bush. For it will not prevent the spawning of other groups elsewhere with equally vicious methods and aims.

Gorka is right that it is irrational for terrorists to expect that the West will surrender by giving up its way of life and its most fundamental values under pressure. It is equally unrealistic, though, to think that an ideology can be defeated militarily. If Islamic radicals are held together by a set of beliefs about the deleterious effects of the West on their own societies, then the most cogent response, in addition to a devastating military defeat of said organizations and taking reasonable law enforcement measures throughout the United States, is to strengthen such pillars of liberal democracy as equality under the law, institutionalized liberties, the practice of critical thinking, the constitutional system of checks and balances, and the respect of human rights.

For this system represents everything Islamicists deplore.

The right combination of military force applied in the Middle East, compassion towards the dispossessed, thorough but reasonable vetting of refugees, and an uncompromising loyalty to the Constitution of the United States will protect American national security and its liberal democracy. Fueling a seemingly ideological struggle, which in reality is nothing more than an embrace of what social psychologists call ingroup superiority (America First) versus an artificially created outgroup enemy (today criminal aliens, tomorrow liberals or anyone else who does not fit the “official” view of what makes a loyal American) will only achieve a deterioration in the American way of life much more so than a terrorist attack could ever hope to achieve.

Dr. Gorka needs to recall what Horthy’s exclusionist, and racially defined social order portended for half a million Hungarian Jews and countless others. America in 2017 is not Hungary in 1944. But the Jews of yesterday are the Muslims and the illegal immigrants of today. Only when Sebastian Gorka is a “vitéz” no more (in the unhealthy, anachronistic, and exclusionary sense of the word) can the American public rest assured that his words of advice do not echo the values represented by the Vitézi Rend

America certainly deserves better.