EU focus on Viktor Orbán’s anti-Semitism

While racism and anti-Semitism are not uncommon in European Union (EU) countries, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is the only one who brought anti-Semitism into a ruling party.

Ruling party Fidesz politicians in Hungary frequently make anti-Semitic remarks in Hungarian, never in English. And the doubletalk has served Orbán well. His party has attracted a fair share of the country’s anti-Semitic voters and made life for Hungary’s Jewish population uncomfortable.

Recently a prominent leader of the European Commission suggested that Viktor Orbán’s public statements relating to George Soros are anti-Semitic. European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans, a center-left Dutch politician stated that Mr. Orbán’s comments “sounded anti-Semitic.” This is the first time that the EU has raised its voice about Mr. Orbán’s anti-Semitic statements.

Frans Timmerman and Queen Mathilde of Belgium

Hungarian Jewish leaders have avoided calling Orbán an anti-Semite. Only when the government campaigned against refugees, did Mr. András Heisler, the president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities say, “The public discourse on the migrant issue has crossed the line into hate speech.” He added, “Hatred acts like a virus, and can slowly but surely infect all of society.” Holocaust survivors felt that the government campaign was “reminiscent of Nazi propaganda.”

Mr. Orbán has not apologized for his recent comments, instead his Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has gone on the attack. He has demanded Mr. Timmermans’ resignation. “We introduced the National Memorial Day for the Victims of the Holocaust, have renovated synagogues not just in Hungary, but also in neighboring countries, and have made Holocaust denial a punishable offence according to the new Penal Code,” he declared. “Hungary’s new constitution … guarantees the security of Hungarian Jews as part of the Hungarian nation, and the Hungarian Jewish Community can always count on the respect, friendship and protection of the Hungarian government.”

What Mr. Szijjártó forgets to mention is that the Orbán government has also installed dozens of statues of Hungarian fascists, praised WWII era anti-Semites and falsified Hungarian Holocaust history.

In 2009 Viktor Orbán praised Albert Wass’s “humanity” at the unveiling of a statue in the city of Pomáz. Mr. Wass is a convicted WWII criminal. In 2012 prominent Fidesz politician and Speaker of the Parliament László Kövér became persona non grata in Israel. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin told him that he was no longer welcome there following Kövér’s participation in a ceremony for pro-Nazi author József Nyirő. President János Áder inaugurated a Wass statue in the city of Debrecen and praised the fascist writer. Áder also spoke warmly about János Esterházy, an ethnic-Hungarian Slovak politician who supported anti-Jewish laws in Slovakia.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington urged Mr. Orbán and Mr. Áder to rescind a government award given to Zsolt Bayer, a journalist who has published several anti-Semitic newspaper columns. The government refused even after US politicians and prominent scientists joined the protest.

Zsolt Bayer, Mr. Viktor Orbán and Mr. János Áder in 2006 – anti-Semitic sentiments

Kudos to Mr. Timmermans for confronting the anti-Semitism of Mr. Orbán in the European Union. More to come…

György Lázár

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *