The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a scathing statement on Hungary’s Orbán government, after the regime in Budapest decided to award rabidly racist columnist Zsolt Bayer, who has advocated for genocide against the Roma minority and has bemoaned that more Jews were not murdered in a pogrom in 1919/20, with a major national award. The Hungarian Free Press has long shared the view, espoused this week in the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s statement, that Hungary’s chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) was used by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government as a calculated tool of cynical political manipulation and an international PR exercise, when back home the regime continues to promote the worst racists and anti-Semites.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center blasted the awarding of the Order of Merit of the Knight’s Cross, a high state honor, by Hungarian President János Áder to Zsolt Bayer last Thursday. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs for the Wiesenthal Center said, “This award is a disgrace. The Hungarian government cannot have it both ways: Celebrating bigotry while presenting today’s Hungary as a forward thinking democracy.”
“This ‘honor’ legitimizes the despicable racist and anti-Semitic writings of Zsolt Bayer. Bayer, who has called the Roma people “animals” and who published a series of anti-Semitic columns last year deserves to be unreservedly condemned and not honored,” Cooper and Weitzman added.
Weitzman, who also Chairs the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) added, “For the Hungarian government to take this step less than a year after chairing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance gives credence to the claim that their chairmanship was just a cynical act of political manipulation, while the true face of the Orbán government is revealed in its continued efforts to honor racist and antisemitic figures of Hungary’s past and present such as Bálint Hóman and György Donáth.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center and it’s over 400,000 constituent members stand with András Heisler, the president of Hungary’s main Jewish umbrella organization, Mazsihisz, and all those within and outside of Hungary who have joined in to protest this dishonorable honor.”
Simon Wiesenthal Center