Did Consul General Ferenc Kumin trick an elderly Holocaust survivor rabbi?

Tad Stahnke from Human Rights First has published an article in which he warns American lawmakers not to be “duped” by the Fidesz government’s “charm offensive.” Here is a story about the communication tricks Hungarian diplomats play in the United States.

Ferenc Kumin is 40 years old and the Consul General of Hungary in New York. Before this position, he worked as a “communication specialist” for Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s Prime Minister. Rabbi Arthur Schneier is 85 years old. He was born in Vienna and as a teenager survived the Holocaust in Budapest.

On November 18, 2014 Mr. Kumin visited the Rabbi, posed in a photo with him, and posted it on his Facebook page with a Hungarian text. Mr. Kumin briefly noted Rabbi Schneier’s background and achievements, and added that he had an excellent conversation with him. He went on to say that fortunately the Rabbi is not getting his news from the biased US media, instead he is relying on first-hand information on Hungarian matters. Mr. Kumin thanked him for his support in the name of Hungary (!) and asked for his help to foster rational dialog between American Jewry and Hungary.

Mr. Ferenc Kumin and Rabbi Arthur Schneier.

Mr. Ferenc Kumin and Rabbi Arthur Schneier.

According to Mr. Kumin’s text, the Rabbi supports the Orbán regime while US media, Congressional politicians, the Wiesenthal Center, and the US Holocaust Museum openly accuse Mr. Orbán of flirting with anti-Semitism, rewriting World War II history, worshipping Miklós Horthy’s pro-Hitler dictatorship, praising convicted Second World War killers like Albert Wass and celebrating anti-Semites Bálint Hóman, József Nyirő and Cécile Tormay.

The next day I asked the Rabbi’s office to confirm Mr. Kumin’s Hungarian text. Is this really what the Rabbi told him?

Later that day something unexpected happened. Mr. Kumin’s Facebook page was edited and the Rabbi’s support for the Orbán government, the call for „rational” dialog and the sentence about his dismay at the US media, suddenly disappeared. All erased!

Fortunately Facebook keeps a copy of the previous version, and I am able to share that with you. Mr. Kumin refuses to respond to my inquiries. It seems to me that Mr. Kumin posted a propaganda text on Facebook to please his Hungarian-speaking audience and shamelessly used the photo of the 85-year old Holocaust survivor. Did Mr. Kumin realize that he might get caught? Did he erase the incriminating parts? Has Hungarian diplomacy deteriorated to cheap trickery? Or is this the “charm offensive” Mr. Stahnke is writing about?

György Lázár

*

Edit history of Ferenc Kumin’s Hungarian-language Facebook post, dated November 18, 2014 

Original post:

Ferenc Kumin:

(November 18, 2014 at 11:10pm) Ma meglátogattam Arthur Schneiert, a New York-i Park East zsinagóga főrabbiját. Schneier rabbi kiválóan beszél magyarul, mivel 1938-ban családjával Bécsből Budapestre menekült. Később fontos szerepe volt Szent Korona egykori hazatérésében. A Park East volt az első amerikai zsinagóga, amelyet katolikus egyházfő meglátogatotzt, amikor 2008-ban XVI Benedek az USA-ban járt. Ez nem véletlen. Schneier rabbi a hitéleti tevékenysége mellett sikeres diplomataként is dolgozott, sok munkája van az felekezetek közötti megértés erősítésében, de komoly múltra tekinthet vissza a magyar-amerikai kapcsolatok építésében is. Kitűnő beszélgetés volt. Mindig öröm ilyen nagy tekintélyű és egyúttal nagyon pontosan tájékozott (szerencsénkre első kézből, nem az amaerikai lapokból) közéleti szereplővel találkozni. Biztosított támogatásáról, amelyet Magyarország nevében megköszöntem, és kértem, hogy továbbra is segítse a racionális párbeszéd fenntartását az amerikai zsidóság, illetve általában Amerika és Magyarország között.

Edited version:

Ferenc Kumin:

(November 19, 2014 at 8:27pm) Ma meglátogattam Arthur Schneiert, a New York-i Park East zsinagóga főrabbiját. Schneier rabbi kiválóan beszél magyarul, mivel 1938-ban családjával Bécsből Budapestre menekült. Később fontos szerepe volt Szent Korona egykori hazatérésében. A Park East volt az első amerikai zsinagóga, amelyet katolikus egyházfő meglátogatotzt, amikor 2008-ban XVI Benedek az USA-ban járt. Ez nem véletlen. Schneier rabbi a hitéleti tevékenysége mellett sikeres diplomataként is dolgozott, sok munkája van az felekezetek közötti megértés erősítésében, de komoly múltra tekinthet vissza a magyar-amerikai kapcsolatok építésében is.

9 Comments

  1. András B. Göllner says:

    Ferenc Kumin should be ashamed of himself and his effort to pull off yet another affinity fraud. It seems like he got caught in the act, thanks to the vigilance of György Lázár. This is the latest chapter in the language of political deception utilised by FIDESZ for the purpose of obliterating truth and objectivity from politics. While Orbán’s representatives are photo-opping around town with rabbis and Klezmer musicians, senior members of the Party, and of the Prime Minister’s office are drinking to the memory of those Hungarians who fought to the bitter end on the side of the Nazis. People should listen to Randolf L. Braham and Elie Wiesel rather than to the likes of Kumin.

  2. Pierre Divenyi says:

    I think the New York Times should interview Kumin and ask him questions about hosting Jobbik officials. And also interview Rabbi Schreiner.

  3. Miklos Banfi says:

    Ashamed? Kumin? We have all followed his invertebrate path in the last 15 years. Nuff said..
    Pierre, good idea.. Could somebody make it happen? Unfortunately it seems very unlikely.

  4. “Did Mr. Kumin realize that he might get caught? ”
    It wouldn’t bother him at all he has the technique to get out of trouble accusing someone else. And shameless to the extreme. Yet, all these messages are not more than feedback by an eager beaver to the big man back at home in the velvet chair.

    “Has Hungarian diplomacy deteriorated to cheap trickery? ”
    Has always been. Boat rocking is their favorite pastime.

    “Or is this the “charm offensive” Mr. Stahnke is writing about?”
    But how? They have all the intel they want, they read HFP they can read Mr. Gollner’s series of RCA Victor. That was really good. They’ve got it all.
    That magician picture illustration for Mr. Stahnke’s writing was a hit.
    I am to ask a very simple question; what the hell is going on? Who is at the steering wheel? Who’s got the password.

    PS. these guys never learn that once you put something on the net you can never erase it.

  5. Ich bedauere sehr, dass sehr viele Israeli aus Ungarn, in Amerika, Kanada, Australien etc. lebend, eine unglaubliche Hetzjagd und Gehässigkeiten über alle möglichen Medien, die heute zur Verfügung stehen, gegen den Rest von dem historischen Ungarn von nur noch 28 % verbreiten. In eine wiederwertige Sprache im besten Englisch verfasst, um nichts anderes als Haß und erklärte ewigen Feindschaft der Ungarn gegenüber zu bekunden. Ein Teil von ihnen sind Profi Trolls, ein anderer Teil Agenten von Geheimdiensten und ein dritter Teil sind Gleichgesinnten. Wenn jemand ihnen versucht im Diskussionen widersprechen, dem wird das Wort undemokratisch abgeschnitten. Die Beteiligten haben fast überwiegend eine sehr hässliche Feindschaft zu allem was je Ungarisch ist oder war. Die Volksverhetzung wird überwiegend über die s.g. Hungarian Spectrum und hungarianfreepress tagtäglich verbreitet. Sie nehmen dadurch Einfluss vor allem auf die Politik der USA um dort bestimmte Persönlichkeiten ebenfalls feindselig gegen Ungarn und ihre demokratische Regierung Einfluss zu nehmen.
    Ich nenne diese feindselige Volksverhetzung als das was sie ist: ANTIHUNGARIAN ANTISEMITISM oder ANTIUNGARISCHEN ANTISEMITISMUS oder MAGYARELLENES ANTISZEMITIZMUS.
    Diese Antiungarischer Antisemitismus hat auch inzwischen auch das Europäische Parlament und Institutionen erreicht.
    Ich appelire an den Anstand und Vernunft das ungarisch geschundenen, in Trianon zerstörtes historisches von nur noch 28 % Ungarn, nicht weiter zu bedrängen, propagandistisch nicht zu strangulieren, einfach in Ruhe zu lassen.
    Auch der Antiungarische Antisemitismus soll unter Strafe gestellt werden, da Antisemitismus ist gleich Antisemitismus, ob es das jüdische oder ungarische Volk betrifft.

  6. András B. Göllner says:

    Mr Macaroni, perhaps you missed it – this is an English language blog ?

  7. Miklos Banfi says:

    The least of the problem that he used German. That itself is not poisionous like the content. For other article I read comment from him in mediocre English, not entertaining and I don’t intend to make that mistake again.

  8. Yet Bajnai will face major political obstables as prime minister, above and beyond the severe economic crisis which brought Hungary to the brink of bankruptcy. Gordon Bajnai comes across as telegenic and generally affable in the handful of interviews conducted with him during his brief stint in politics.

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