WJC calls out Orbán; protest at Jobbik meet

History

Hungary’s sitting government has long touted its role in the fight against anti-Semitism; a recent comment from Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE) representative that “We got the impression the country’s leaders … are ready to make the efforts needed to fight against anti-Semitism in their country” as well as a plug from the US House of Representatives would at face value appear to indicate improvement.

As a year dedicated to Holocaust memorial in Hungary grinds on, however, a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the country is becoming harder and harder to deny. From Friday, events appear to be snowballing the war of words between Jewish communities and Hungarian government.

World Jewish Congress: Orbán et al “falsifying history”
In a statement to local media, the World Jewish Congress on Saturday publicly supported the boycotting of Hungary’s planned observance of the Holocaust by MaZsiHiSz and other such community groups.

“The attempt to falsify history instead of commemorating the annihilation of two-thirds of Hungary’s [Jewish population] has caused profound disappointment,” ran the letter from WJC president Ronald S. Lauder in part.

Lauder also took note of the planned unveiling of a stumbling-stone monument dedicated to the Nazi “occupation” of Hungary in 1944: “If Viktor Orbán and the Hungarian government seriously believe that the statue should also be a memorial for the Jewish victims, at the very least they should listen to the Jewish community’s concerns, take them into account, and reconsider their plans,” Lauder wrote.

Public protest greets Jobbik synagogue meet
Far-right wing party Jobbik was met with over 100 protestors when holding a party caucus at a former synagogue in Esztergom.

Head of the protest group, Ágnes Drelyó, in a call for the rally, noted on Facebook that “It is a perversion from Jobbik to organise a forum at a former synagogue where remarks be heard that are insulting to the memories of [Holocaust] victims and the spirit of the place.”

Despite the public outcry leading up to the event, Esztergom mayor Éva Tétényi claimed she had no authority over the matter; her public actions were apparently limited to having an open letter to Jobbik party president Gábor Vona imploring him to change the venue of the event.

Jobbik president Gábor Vona talked tough at the forum, stating that he would “sacrifice his life for the country” and claimed that his party was “the only non-racist party” to be running in the upcoming parliamentary election, in that Jobbik believes in “giving everyone a fair chance.”

Ambassador summoned to Israel, told Hungary lacks bravery
How seriously is the rise of anti-Semitic sentiment in Hungary considered outside the country? Seriously enough for Hungary’s ambassador to Israel, Andor Nagy, to be summoned for an emergency meeting on the topic by the Israeli foreign ministry.

Nagy, having just taken up the post this month, met with Israel’s Deputy Director-General for Europe Rafi Schutz after the country’s president addressed the Hungarian situation in a speech.
At said meeting, Schutz reportedly informed Nagy that Jewish officials were skeptical about the Hungarian government’s willingness to address difficult issues of Holocaust remembrance in a “direct and brave manner.”

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