U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, issued a statement regarding plans by the Hungarian government to fund a statue honoring Bálint Hóman, one of the architects of Hungary’s anti-Jewish laws and member of the Arrow Cross regime. The Founder and National Spokesperson of the Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter, András B. Göllner, issued the following memorandum to Senator Cardin, praising and congratulating his initiative on this important file.
Dear Senator Cardin:
As the Founder and National Spokesperson of the Canadian civil-rights advocacy group, the Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter, allow me to not only congratulate you, but to say thank you for the courageous and important statement you released today. The leadership you are showing in the United States Senate to unmask the affinity-fraud of Viktor Orbán’s autocratic government is an example to all those who value the principles of democracy, justice, and respect for human dignity.
In their propaganda communiqués, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán and his diplomatic representatives in Canada and the USA, claim that respect for the victims of the Holocaust is the cornerstone of Hungary’s government, a central element of its identity, that must be respected at all times. As your own statement shows, and those of such credible witnesses as Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, or Randolph L. Braham, the gap between the rhetoric and the political action followed by the Orbán regime inside the trans-Atlantic community is not only enormous but unacceptable. As the Simon Wiesenthal Centre stated last year: “Hungary must choose whether it’s committed to remembrance of the Holocaust or to the distortion of the Holocaust; it cannot have it both ways. Coming on the heels of other actions by the Hungarian government that distort and whitewash the Holocaust in Hungary, these efforts raise legitimate questions about Hungary’s ability to Chair the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2015″. As Hungary’s Chairmanship is winding down, the inconsistencies between the Orbán government’s conduct in Hungary and its posturing abroad is painfully obvious and must be loudly condemned by those who are the custodians of public trust.
In a recent in-depth study, this author outlined the key features of the affinity fraud being perpetrated in North America by Viktor Orbán’s government.
Please feel free to circulate to as many of your colleagues our own testimony. We stand ready to bear witness in any future hearings or initiatives you and your colleagues wish to undertake in this domain. The evidence we have compiled above, coupled to yours, is irrefutable: the Orbán regime uses the pain of Holocaust victims to generate political capital for itself in North America, while resurrecting in Hungary the credibility of those who spent their lives preaching hatred against the Jews. This is not respect, but contempt for the victims of the Holocaust and must be protested and opposed loudly by people who have been elected to uphold the values that we all cherish.
Your press release rightly protests against the raising of a monument using public funds, to a man, Bálint Hóman, who is one of the architects of Hungary’s anti-Jewish laws during the interwar years. Even one such monument is one too many. The fact is, there are dozens of similar monuments in Hungary that have been raised with public funds and ceremoniously unveiled by Mr Orbán’s political colleagues over the years. This is not the first such insult to the victims of the Holocaust, but part of what is by now a political tradition in that country. In addition to the monuments, there are hundreds of political actors in high place in Hungary today, who are actively fomenting hatred against the Jews, and against visible minorities.
The contrast between Viktor Orbán’s rhetoric and actions is most vividly illustrated by the fact that the Hungarian Parliamentary Committee on Education and Culture is headed by Dóra Dúró, who is a card carrying member of Hungary’s neo-Nazi party, the Jobbik. This appointment was only made possible by the support of Orbán’s party colleagues in Parliament. If respect for the memory of Holocaust survivors is the cornerstone of Hungary’s ruling party, why did they elect a neo-Nazi party member to the head of this important parliamentary committee? Dúró is the wife of an out and out, self-confessed Holocaust denier, Előd Novák. Here is Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre: “the Chairmanship of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Culture was going to Dóra Dúró, the wife of Jobbik militant and Holocaust denier Elod Novak, raise questions about Hungary’s commitment to accurate and appropriate remembrance of the Holocaust. When Novak was asked last week why the couple does not take part in Holocaust commemoration events, he answered ‘we remember only genocides that actually happened’.” ( See: “Simon Wiesenthal Center Questions Hungary’s Fitness to Lead International Holocaust Body”, May, 2014)
If the memory of the victims of the Holocaust must be respected, why are the works of former Nazis put into the national curriculum of Hungary’s secondary school system, why are the men who spread hatred 70-80 years ago allowed to do the same once more and amongst the most impressionable strata of Hungarian society?
If respect for the victims of the Holocaust is the cornerstone of the Orbán government, why did that government’s national historian, Sándor Szakály, celebrate the “heroism” of Hungary’s pro-Nazi military officers in Canada only a few months ago – officers who held up the liberation of Auschwitz and contributed to the prolongation of World War II?
If respect for victims of the Holocaust is the cornerstone of the Orbán regime, why are the President and Vice President of Hungary’s Parliament, Mr László Kövér and Sándor Lezsák, patrons of artists, writers, politicians who preach nothing but hatred for the Jews?
One of Orban’s top PMO lieutenants, the homophobic Imre Kerényi, openly gloated that pretty soon the headquarters of the „Tel Aviv-New York axis’, will be levelled to the ground, and there will be nothing left but goats grazing on the site of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. When journalists questioned Orbán about the pro-Iranian, pro-Russian, anti-American hatred spewed by one of his top advisers, he shrugged his shoulders and said that he wished he had more people like Kerényi on his staff. When will President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, including our own prime minister, Justin Trudeau, say out loud to Mr. Orbán – enough is enough? How many more insults will this community take from Hungary’s corrupt and authoritarian leader, before it shows him to the exit?
Dear Senator Cardin: The Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter stands fully behind you and wishes to express its solidarity with your stand. May you and your colleagues in the US Senate take more and bolder steps to uphold justice and civil liberties in Hungary. Such steps are in the common interests of all members of the trans-Atlantic community.
András B. Göllner, PhD
Emeritus Professor of Political Science
Department of Political Science, Concordia University, Montreal, and
The Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter