A warning about Hungary’s institutionalized anti-Semitism

Samantha Power is one of President Barack Obama’s closest confidants and currently U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Ms. Power, who is 44 years old, was formerly Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, and also a noted writer, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for her book entitled, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.”

Samantha Power

Samantha Power

On November 13 she was in Berlin, and gave a powerful speech at the 10th Anniversary of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe conference on anti-Semitism. (Full text of the speech.)

Here is an excerpt: “In Hungary – where the extreme ethnic nationalist Jobbik party finished second in May elections, and where public opinion polling has shown a high level of anti-Semitic attitudes, the government has cracked down as well on the independent press and civil society groups. According to international media watch dog, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Hungarian authorities have pressured the media to tone down or abandon sensitive, critical stories and punish the journalists and media outlets that press ahead. All this at the same time a new government-commissioned monument to the Second World War depicts Hungarian “victims of German occupation” – but makes no mention of the major role the Hungarian government and citizens played in the mass extermination of Jews.”

Hungary’s leaders are blaming the notoriously anti-Roma and anti-Semitic Jobbik party for the rise of racism and anti-Semitism. This is the first time that a top US politician has made reference to Hungary’s “government commissioned” distortion of WWII history. It is an important message, and I hope the Orbán government won’t ignore it.

Kudos to Ms. Power for bringing attention to the anti-Semitic tendencies of the Orbán regime and turning the focus to Hungary’s failed policies. The Orbán government has to prove that they have a credible program to fight anti-Semitism; maybe they cannot find a solution because they are the problem itself.

György Lázár

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