Orbán’s anti-Semitism is prime-time TV news in the US

On August 15th the PBS NewsHour interviewed Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the US, during a piece on Israel barring two U.S. congresswomen, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, both Muslims. Israel claims that Reps. Omar and Tlaib are anti-Semitic.

The reporter pointed out that Israel has welcomed politicians in the past who have used anti-Semitic rhetoric, for example Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Italian Matteo Salvini. “Both of them have been anti-Semites in some of their political language. They were welcomed to Israel. So, what’s the difference?”

And here is Danny Ayalon’s answer: “They respect the country. They promote cooperation with our country. And if they did have anti-Semitic — any references, of course, we would not — we would not condone it and we would call them out.”

Well, Ambassador Ayalon conveniently forgets that Israel has never called out Orbán’s anti-Semitism. In fact, Netanyahu reprimanded his own Ambassador to Budapest (Mr. Yosef Amrani) when he publicly protested Orbán’s anti-Jewish rhetoric.

Hungarian officials say that it is unfair to call Orbán an anti-Semite since “Jews are safe” in Hungary. Some might consider this expression a thinly veiled threat. During WWII fascist Hungary ordered Jews into Ghettos “to provide safety” for them.

Orbán praises convicted WWII criminal Albert Wass who murdered Jews, and calls Admiral Horthy, who was complicit in the deportations, „a great statesman.” He also keeps close contact with far-right operatives and several leaders of his own Fidesz party are banned from entering Israel, among them László Kövér, Hungary’s Parliament Speaker.

Ms. Mária Wittner of Fidesz at a Hungarian neo-Nazi rally

In 2017 Orbán invited Ms. Mária Wittner, a Jobbik and Magyar Gárda activist and Vitéz Ákos Szilágyi a far-right Hungarian-American operator to the Fidesz party picnic at the village of Kötcse. It is suspected that Mr. Szilágyi has had contacts with Holocaust denier historian David Irving and also had problems entering Canada in the past. Mr. Szilágyi is a member of the pro-Horthy Vitézi Rend (Sebastian Gorka is also a member) and a leader of the New York-based Széchenyi Society that frequently stages events to celebrate Albert Wass.

Mr. Orbán (middle) with Ms. Wittner and Mr. Szilágyi at Kötcse.

This year, on March 17th, Ms. Katalin Szili, Commissioner to the Prime Minister and Ms. Petra Schmitt, Hungary’s Consul General in Florida organized a similar anti-Semitic Wass event at a Hungarian church in Miami. These Wass events have been vehemently protested by the Wiesenthal Center.

Mr. Szilágyi is a member of the Vitézi Rend is wearing the Horthy insignia.

Mr. Orbán denies that his government promotes anti-Semitism, in fact in a 2012 letter to Rep. Crowley he accused the United States of spreading anti-Semitism in Hungary. He blamed the US-registered neo-Nazi portal kuruc.info but failed to mention that the portal has an office and tax ID in Budapest and is operating freely in the Hungarian capital. What chutzpah!

According to the New York Times Mr. Orbán plays a tricky “Double Game on Anti-Semitism.” He is using communication tricks and clever cover-ups and amazingly these actions receive help from some Hungarian-Americans. (Read NYT article here.)

It is important to emphasize that Orbán’s racist propaganda is rejected by the vast majority of Hungarian Americans. The sporadic anti-Semitic “Hungarian unity” events are always sponsored by Hungarian diplomats and attended by a handful of Hungarian Americans who hope to receive direct financial or other support from the Orbán regime.

It is time to remove the Albert Wass, János Esterházy, Ferenc Koszorús and Miklós Horthy statues and plaques in Hungary and issue an apology to Holocaust survivors and their descendants for the organized falsification of WWII history. We also call on Ambassador Cornstein to support a formal legal action against those who operate kuruc.info in Hungary and have misled US authorities for years about the nature of this site.

György Lázár


Watch the quoted PBS NewsHour broadcast here:

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