Momentum’s Balázs Nemes — A reformed anti-Semitic homophobe?

Balázs Nemes is in eighth place on Momentum’s party list for national elections scheduled for 8th April. Momentum, of course, is the youthful movement that rationalizes its decision not to cooperate with any other opposition party by claiming that it is the only party not tainted by the past and focused intently on the future. Yet it turns out that Mr. Nemes most certainly has a past–as a rabidly anti-Semitic and homophobic young man who embraced the rhetoric of the far-right.

Balázs Nemes

Origo, a pro-Fidesz publication, dug up a sound recording of Mr. Nemes from 2010, who today also serves as the president of Momentum’s party association in the town of Pécs. In a 90 minute podcast, Mr. Nemes was discussing an earlier violent attack against a Pride March in Budapest, when far-right hooligans disrupted the march in 2008 and physically attacked participants. Mr. Nemes said that he found it “a little rough” to throw stones at them, but then added that it would be acceptable to fire left-over food at gay rights activists and supporters, noting that it would be best to hit them with eggs and butyric acid. In the sound recording, he repeatedly refers to marchers as “fags” (using the derogatory Hungarian word, “buzi“).

In the same recording, Mr. Nemes claimed that Israel has no historic legitimacy to exist as a state, much like Slovakia has no legitimacy either. According to Mr. Nemes, there is no such thing as Israel, there is only Palestine. “Israel is called the British Mandate of Palestine,” remarked the young Mr. Nemes, asserting that if Israel would not exist, Palestine would form a perfect unit, extending from the desert to the sea. The young man then repeated a joke often heard in far-right circles: “There is no antisemitism in Hungary, but demand exists for it.”

Also in keeping with fascists, Mr. Nemes said that he has no problem with Jews as such, only with their “type of behaviour.”

“Extreme Zionism is against humanity and it is no surprise that it is condemned by the UN. But then they repealed this statement–perhaps due to the Jewish lobby?”–Mr. Nemes quipped.

The podcast also included anti-Roma racism. The podcast reflected on a news item about a police officer shooting a 14 year old boy during a break-in. The men hosting the podcast determined that the suspect must have been Roma, joking about how he was found to have a hoe in his hand. “Have you ever seen a Gypsy carrying a tool for work? Perhaps only if the Magyar Gárda happens to be marching, but even then they steal it,” they joked.

It is revealed in the sound file that Mr. Nemes was a Jobbik supporter in 2010 and they end the broadcast with a Hitler joke that is popular in far-right circles.

When the sound recording came to light Friday morning, Momentum issued a very brief and disappointing statement:

“Balázs Nemes distanced himself from the far-right because of the community that Momentum provided. If Momentum is able to achieve this with larger crowds of people, it will do a great service for Hungary.”

Momentum often preaches about how other parties and political players must take responsibility for past transgressions. We hope that Momentum holds itself and its candidates to the same standard.

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