Hungarian Americans at war in Los Angeles

Hungarian Americans in Los Angeles won’t celebrate together this March 15th. Hungary’s most important National Holiday commemorates the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 that grew into a war for independence from the Catholic Habsburg rule. Instead there will be two commemorations at different locations on the same day, at almost the same time.

The “official” event is sponsored by the Hungarian Consulate and will take place at the St. Stephen Catholic Church on Woodlawn Avenue. After the Catholic Mass Péter Szilágyi, Deputy State Secretary for Hungarian Communities Abroad, and Consul General Tamás Széles will speak.

Catholic March 15th celebration

The second event will be held in the United Magyar House. No Hungarian government officials will attend.

Alternative March 15th commemoration without the Hungarian government.

Hungarian Americans in California have been divided for years. The vast majority of us who follow Hungarian politics oppose Orbán’s authoritarian rule. Yet there is a small group of Hungarian Americans, some of whom receive direct financial support from Budapest, who organize pro-Orbán propaganda events and act as „citizen lobbyists” for the regime.

The tension have simmered for years. Last summer when Consul General, Tamás Széles demanded that the Vice President of the United Magyar House, Álmos Sárvári be removed from his position after his critical comments about the Orbán government, the gloves came off. Hungary provides financial support to the House, and Széles made it clear that he expects unconditional loyalty.

It seems that he never heard about the First Amendment, the right to free speech. Széles thinks that he is still in Hungary where the government frequently attacks those who disagree with Orbán.

Mr. Pereházy (left), Consul General Széles (right) with Mr. Lajos Kósa, Hungarian minister without portfolio (middle) at the Los Angeles United Magyar House in 2017.

Magyar House President Mr. Miklós Pereházy called a press conference and without Sárvári present read his resignation letter. The bizarre public spectacle reminded me the Stalinist era in Hungary when stunned politicians learned from the newspaper that they had tendered their resignation. (Please watch Pereházy’s press conference in Hungarian here.)

Social media was abuzz. Pereházy was accused of allegedly misappropriating monies received earlier from Hungary and some claimed that he had wanted to „grab” the valuable real estate of the Magyar House. Many suspected that the Consulate was behind the campaign. In a bizarre move, Ms. Tímea Antal, Vice President of the House “clarified” the real estate ownership issue and resigned! (Read it here in Hungarian.)

Ms. Maria Janossy, a Los Angeles lawyer who runs the popular Hungarian Cultural Alliance – Magtár, questioned the finances of the Magyar House on Facebook. Magtár organizes musical and cultural events without Hungarian government support but also have readings of the works of anti-Semitic writer Albert Wass. She works closely with far-right Jobbik politician Krisztina Morvai. (Watch Ms. Morvai and Ms. Janossy on their 2016 tour in Transylvania)

Mr. Pereházy and Ms. Janossy in happier times.

Ms. Janossy’s relations with Ms. Morvai may raise some eyebrows. Morvai is currently a member of the European Parliament but in 2009 in Tehran she expressed her support of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Read Morvai’s statement in the Tehran Times.)

Meanwhile Consul General Széles’s main goal is to stifle critical voices and cover up Hungary’s rampant racism and antisemitism.

The ongoing barrage of personal attacks in social media have resulted in a chaotic situation. Various groups and individuals are vying for financial support from Budapest and willing to declare their loyalty to Orbán.

Not surprisingly many of us fondly remember Consul General Balázs Bokor, a skilled diplomat who successfully navigated among the various groups a decade ago. Today, it is all out war where even the frontlines are not clear. I have a feeling this is just the beginning…

György Lázár

15 Comments

  1. Andras B. Gollner says:

    From the sound of it, this is just another Hungarian Rhapsody. It’s a pity, Ms Jánossy is a follower of the neo-Fascist femme fatale, Morvay. From that picture, she seems rather comely, though she does appear to possess a rather heavy hand, better suited to swinging a hammer than playing the loot, sorry, lute. Pereházy appears to have a more self assured grip on reality. He has the self assured look of a waiter dancing around the tables at the Russian Tea Room in New York, with a dozen glasses of champagne upon his cork tray. Ah, but for the sobbing violins. California Dreamin’ ???

  2. Peter Sandor says:

    “Hungary’s rampant racism and antisemitism” is as accurate a judgment as the author’s intellience about Pompeo not visiting Budapest recently. Or to call Albert Wass an anti-Semitic writer. The only good thing is that your innuendos make absolutely no difference in the larger scheme of things.

  3. miklos banfi says:

    Very informative picture Gyuri. Thank You. We wish to expose the very similar scene in Toronto, but we are far behind.

  4. The article seems unbelievable. Hungarians have never been united. The Catholics and Protestants were two separate groups. Checked with Hungarian friends who said that many Hungarians living abroad voted for Mr. Orban.

  5. Gyorgy, good article – honest.
    Don’t listen to the likes of “Peter Sandor”… no sweeping the truth under the rugs.

  6. miklos perehazy says:

    Dear Mr. Lazar,

    Reading your article reminded me how hard we have been working in the United Hungarian House in the last 17 years to create a cultural center, where people used to be able to put their political and religious differences aside, and celebrate our Hungarian national holidays united, just being Hungarian in heart and soul. That spirit had been invaded by the current hostility against the Hungarian House and the fear of a social punishment of even visiting our cultural center. People of character and courage, who expressed their disaprovement of the current war, created by the Hungarian Consul General against the Hungarian House, are getting alienated by certain members of the community whose social positions depend on who’s hands they are holding.
    We tried to reach out to Mr. Szeles multiple times to discuss his problems related to the practice of our treasured freedom of speech. Unfortunately, he was not available for any meetings and gave no formal indication about his idea of a reasonable solution.
    Instead, I and some members of our board had to face hateful anonym letters, personal attacks, and unsubstanciated accusations.
    The Hungarian House has been able to work successfully with any and all previous Hungarian Government representatives with mutual respect. Our goal and manner did not change.
    So, why cannot we celebrate together?

    Sincerely,

    Miklos Perehazy
    president
    United Magyar House

  7. Sandor Kerekes says:

    Dear Mr Perehazy,
    It appears that you are doing the right thing, but perhaps not firmly enough. I speak from experience, acquired in the Toronto Hungarian Cultural Center: by kow-towing to the consul and trying to appease the government-supported and -supporting minority you are endangering your institution. Please keep in mind that the consul and even his shady government will be gone sooner or later, but you, your House and your community may want to survive that. By all means, just keep to your guns, firmly insist on the values and principles of the community and the constitution and you will be fine. Those corrupt nobodies, taking government monies for cheap services rendered simply putting themselves outside the community, illsuited to be members anymore.

  8. GYULA BOGNAR says:

    I am sure I am in the very small minority with my opinion. Even so, I was sad to read the article.
    I was born in Hungary, arrived here in 1970 and since then I think I assimilated well in the US. My wife is American, my friends have various national origin. I rarely visited the Hungarian House and I am not doing anything Hungarian here in the US, not even cooking.
    I follow the politics in Hungary daily, my mother lives there, and feel sorry for the people, thatsince 1989 they were only able to better the Russian, Italian and German masters from a bygone era to create the most corrupt fascist dictatorship in less than 30 years after they became free of occupation and foreign influence.
    Hungarians had a chance to create an independent western style civilization and with the help of the EU membership and moneys, they could have reduced the gap in living standards, commerce and industry.
    Instead, since 2010, they elected multiple times a fascist criminal and his hoodlums, who made a private pricipality of the country, robbing the EU moneys and the tax moneys with the help of a corrupt plumber.
    I don’t consider Hungary my home country for decades now, I choose the US to be my home country and Hungary is positioning itself to become the enemy of the US, my country.
    I see the little mini-Mussolini viktor, serving with all his might Putin master to break up the EU so he could be a leader of the ultra right movement in Europe, a new fascist führer.

    Most Hungarians thing that the proplems in Hungary made by others, they blame the Tatars, the Turks, the Austrians, the Germans, the Russians, now even the EU, instead of taking responsibility for their inability to govern their own persnal and political lives.
    WRONG!
    They elected themselves criminal organization to masquarade as a Government and they are serving it, administer it, benefit from it.
    “Every nation has the government it deserves.”
    (“Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.”)
    Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821)

  9. 1) Author once more speaks in the name of an entire Hungarian community, assuming collective political preference for a community, with no data to back it up.

    2) This is emblematic of the poisonous nature of the leftist-globalist-neo-Marxist movement that dominates the Western World today. I don’t remember Hungarians in North America boicoting Hungarian officials in 2002-2010, even as they were destroying the country economically. Such divisions as author is citing here will most likely be long-lasting, leading to permanent animosity that will then feed on itself, and it will endure well-beyond current government in Hungary. But this does not matter to globalist ideological zealots. It is the true ugly face of this ideological movement.

  10. Mr. Bognar I whole heartedly agree with your comments.
    Shortly after I landed in NJ early February 1957 as a young adult, I learned that Hungarians do not get along with each other. Recently, the Orban regime intensified and re-ignited the hatred that existed in Hungary since the 1920-s. Using the Korosi-Csoma agents in the US and the pseudo “diplomats” serve this purpose.

  11. Attila Kovacs says:

    Kedves Honfitarsak! Itt vannak a kepek a Szent István Római Katolikus Templomban keszült Marcius 15-i megemlekezésröl.

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10157236319269432&type=1&l=494d25d085

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