• When Hamas terrorists infiltrated the kibbutz Kfar Aza in Israel, Mika, her husband and two-and-a-half-year-old son hid in a shelter.

    In their village, Hamas attackers were already killing people. Outside, the Israeli family heard gunfire and lost contact with their loved ones for hours.

    One of them was Mika´s 90-years old grandfather, Naftali (Juraj) Fürst.

    In the relative safety of his home in Haifa in northern Israel, on 6 October 2023, he experienced a new nightmare that revived his memories of the Holocaust. Nicknamed “Ďurko”, he learned at the age of six in Czechoslovakia that he was a Jew who always had to run away.

    His parents were thrown out of their apartment in Bratislava´s suburb Petržalka because it was occupied by the Third Reich. Afterwards he and his family fell victim to persecution by the Slovak fascist Tiso regime, and he was imprisoned in four concentration camps.

    However, little Jurko was lucky and had a strong determination to live, Later, he left for Israel, where he witnessed eight wars. But nothing prepared him for the last Shabbat, the holiday of peace, on 7 October.

    For long hours, he worried whether his family would survive.

    “We bound the shelter door in telephone wire so that terrorists couldn’t open it from the outside,” Fürst’s granddaughter told him. “We were very afraid. We had knives in their hands just in case the terrorists broke in.”

    All the time, they had no idea what was going on outside.

    The Bratislava-born Israeli argued we should not compare the present war against Hamas with the holocaust.

    “It is terrible and painful, but it is not the Shoah,” he said. “In spite of everything, we have an army, even though it didn’t work properly. This catastrophe lasted a few hours, it doesn’t compare to the Holocaust.”

    Slovakia is on the verge of appointing a new populist, nationalist government.

    Robert Fico, the former Prime Minister, and his left-wing nationalist Smer party clearly won the elections earlier this month. Fico has just launched negotiations to form a coalition with the most pro-Russian political force in Slovakia – the SNS (Slovak National Party) – and the social democratic Hlas party.

    If he is successful, Slovakia’s foreign policy orientation will change, most visibly regarding the war in Ukraine.

    How did this happen, and why did the nationalist SNS do so well in the elections?

    This is a very different SNS from the one Slovakia used to know. Of the ten people on its list who entered parliament, only its chairman Andrej Danko, is a member of the party. The rest are various conspirators and stars of the disinformation scene, given a place at the top by Danko.

    Some of them used to be on the list of the Slovak fascist party, People’s Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS). Another pair of new MPs come from the pro-Russian internet television channel, TV Slovan.

    Affection for Russia is not their only strong theme. They want to unblock all disinformation websites and repeal the decrees on transgender people. Also, a doctor who spoke out against Covid vaccination and would like to deal with chemtrails (a conspiracy theory about trails left by aircraft) is also on board.

    Thanks to them, Danko entered parliament, but it is questionable whether he can keep the non-party members under control, and not pay for the fact that he has turned a Nationalist party into a vehicle for conspiracy theories.

    The only person who could have been able to stop this coalition is Peter Pellegrini, chairman of Hlas, who sees himself as pro-European and who came third in the elections. Pellegrini left Smer and founded his own party after the murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak in 2018.

    As kingmaker, Pellegrini could also have tried to form a government with the liberals led by Progressive Slovakia and the Christian Democrats. But in the end, he chose the populist and nationalist option.