Ofir Gross, Israeli man brutally murdered in Hungary in April. They thought he was a migrant…

The disturbing story of an Israeli man’s brutal murder in Hungary earlier this year made headlines in the independent Hungarian media, but had little coverage in the international English-language press. Yet the murder appears to have been racially-motivated and this story is linked to the state-led hate campaign against Syrian refugees and migrants. HFP’s György Lázár shares this story with our readers.

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Ofir Gross

Ofir Gross

Ofir Gross, a 40 year-old Israeli man arrived to Kecskemét, Hungary, in March 2016 where he reserved a room using CouchSurfing, the internet portal specializing in short-term rentals. Kecskemét is a city of 110,000 about an hour’s drive from Budapest.

Although Gross didn’t speak Hungarian, his host understood that he grew up in Jerusalem and that he took off time from studying in Germany to visit Hungary in search of his roots. Gross stayed in his room surfing the web and talking on the phone; he avoided soap or chemicals and once got angry when he learned that dishwashing liquid had been used to clean his pot. Gross repaired his own shoes and clothes; he seemed to like Hungary because he could live there cheaply.

From Kecskemét, Gross travelled to Debrecen and in mid-April he appeared in the village of Tiszakécske. Gross set up a tent close to the railway station. Village people saw him in the pub using WiFi and charging his cellphone in the local hardware store.

Local police found Gross’s body in an abandoned house at the center of the village where he had spent the night in a sleeping bag. According to the reports, Gross was beaten to death with bricks; his cellphones, laptop and some cash were missing.

In Israel, his sister Gali wrote about Gross in a Facebook note: “Sensitive, with a gentle soul, funny, creative, highly educated, handsome and blue-eyed. Seeker of justice, he is someone who strives to be honest which for him is more important than anything. He has a stubborn belief in his way and in himself.” According to Gali her brother had studied computer science and mathematics at Hebrew University, worked on a patent and founded his own startup. “He’s a very stable person,” she wrote.

Hungarian police have arrested two men in connection with the murder but have declined to release details. The Index online news site sent a reporter to Tiszakécske to ask people in the village pub about the death of the Israeli. They didn’t think much of it; they thought he was just another migrant.

(For those who read Hungarian here is the link to Mr. Tamás Fábián’s excellent reporting: click here.)

György Lázár

8 Comments

  1. Dear Mr Lázár!

    May I ask what you were referring to when you said: “They didn’t think much of it”. Is this “it” supposed refer to a human being? I hope it does not, and you simply misunderstood the article you linked.
    Please let me translate the passage in question: “According to the people in the pub, the man set his tent next to the railroads somewhere between the pub and the railway station. They thought , but – said the bartender”.
    I guess the passage that you translated as “they didn’t think much of it” could properly be translated as “there was no problem with him”, since what the whole sentence refers to is the person, not his death. For those, who speak Hungarian: “nem volt vele gond, csak néha bejött vizet kérni, illetve használta a wifit”.
    I think you should be more careful while reporting on sensitive issues like this, but also, please feel free to correct my interpretation if you find it ungrounded.

  2. Sorry, the middle of the translation went somehow missing, so here it is again: “According to the people in the pub, the man set his tent next to the railroads somewhere between the pub and the railway station. They thought ‘he ws migrant’, but ‘had no problem with HIM, since he only came in once or twice for some water, and to use the wifi’ – said the bartender”.

  3. György Lázár says:

    Dear Adam,

    Thank you for your question. I think that the interviewed village people didn’t think highly of Ofir as a human being, they thought he was a migrant and even assumed that he was a drug user – „Ofirnak tágak voltak a pupillái, azt hitte, hogy drogos, ezért nem fogadta be”. To top that, it seems that he was friendly with some of the local Roma (cigány).

    In my view, they didn’t think much of his murder either. The anti-migrant campaign has further desensitized the Hungarian population and “migrants” are now boogeymen, generic scapegoats of the Orbán regime.

  4. This Ofir guy must have been a complete weirdo. On top of that, a thoroughly grateful guest, according to one of his former hosts:

    Másnap Ofir észrevette, és megkérdezte, hogy használtam-e mosogatószert. Mondtam, hogy igen, mire emelt hangon közölte, hogy elrontottam a lábast.

    Next day Ofir noticed this (i.e. the use of detergent) and asked whether I had used detergent. I said yes, whereupon with a raised voice he commented that I had ruined the pot.

    I guess it does not help if such a tone is used with stronger homeless.

  5. Dear Mr Lázár,

    Thanks for your reply. Well, what I would have been curious about first of all is whether you have changed your mind concerning the interpretation of that particular sentence that you quoted in your article. (Since we both interpret it differently, at least one of us must be wrong concerning that). The question is: whether the interviewees refered to Ofir’s death when they said something like that ‘they did not find it disturbing’ (as you suggested earlier), or rather to his person (as I claim). Your interpretation suggests a definitely hostile attitude by the local people towards him, while mine does the opposite. I think this question can be decided based on our grammatical knowledge, and I still think I am right.
    Moreover, the rest of the article speaks about a lady in Kecskemét (southern Hungary), who lodged Ofir for four weeks in her home, while not accepting any money from him as compensation. When she later had to move to Budapest – as the article sais -, she even tried to find a new place for Ofir, but the campsite available was too expensive for him (HUF 3000 / approx. EUR 5 per day). That’s how he starded living next to the railroad. I guess, this whole story rather supports my interpretation concerning the friendliness of the local people, rahter than yours concerning their alleged hostility.
    Also, Ofir is portrayed in the article as a rather shy, introverted person (what you also mentioned in your article), and I have found absolutely no remark on his friendship with gipsy people. In fact, the only time gipsy people are mentioned in the article is concerning Ofir’s (supposed) murderers: a lady who sometimes gave them food out of pity said afterwards that “This guy looked like a gipsy, but who cares, when one feels empathy even for stray dogs” (For Hungarian speakers: “Ez a fiú cigánynak tűnt, de ki nézi azt, meg hát az ember a kóbor kutyát is megsajnálja”).
    In nuce, I’m still afraid that facts do not support your interpretation. The rest of your reply (“In my view, they didn’t think much of his murder either […]”) looks much like an impression of yours, and one might wonder where its factual basis comes from. The problem is, that the material you chose for your article (Ofir’s case) does not support your views.

  6. To top that, it seems that he was friendly with some of the local Roma (cigány).

    …. and indeed, one of the murderers “had the appearance of a Gypsy”, according to one of the witnesses – in your warped Hungarophobic paranoia, clearly the social segment which is most motivated by the government campaign against illegal migrants and rapists.

  7. Congratulation to the writer of this piece. There must be people who raise their voices against brutal murdering where the mass media and the international English-language press have no coverage of these serious crimes.

    Here, another racially-motivated, antisemitic, racist, Europhobe, xenophobic attack on a woman belonging the white ethnic minority (only 40% of the world population) committed by a migrant, which took place in the same Hungary. She was beaten to death by her head being knocked to the pavement, her cellphones, and some cash were missing.

  8. Lazar is one of the most sickening persons expressing himself publicly.

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