Jewish groups reacted furiously on Tuesday to far-right Hungarian political
leader Marton Gyongyosi’s suggestion that the government draw up a list of Jews
in Hungary who posed a “national security threat.”
Speaking on Monday in
the Hungarian parliament about the recent hostilities between Israel and the
Hamas regime in Gaza, Gyongyosi said, “I think such a conflict makes it timely
to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian
Parliament and the Hungarian government, who pose a national security risk to
Gyongyosi, who is deputy leader of the far-right Jobbik party,
was addressing his country’s diplomatic stance toward Israel’s recent Operation
Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip.
He added that Hungarian Foreign
Minister Janos Martonyi had “rushed to make an oath of allegiance to Israel”
during the conflict.
Gyongyosi and the Jobbik party are fiercely critical
of Israel and have a history of inflammatory and controversial comments on
issues pertaining to the Holocaust and the Jewish state, as well as against his
country’s Roma population and homosexuals.
Following the outbreak of the
recent fighting in Gaza, Gyongyosi, who is the party’s spokesman for foreign
affairs, accused Israel of continuing “its genocidal activities against the
Jobbik is the third-largest party in the Hungarian
parliament with 47 out of a total of 386 seats, while the conservative Fidesz
party, which currently holds power, has 263 seats.
Jewish human rights
organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced Gyongyosi’s comments on
Tuesday, saying that it was reminiscent of the “genocidal Nazi
“The fact that after making such a demand in the Hungarian
Parliament, Gyongyosi has not been forced to resign, is a sad commentary on the
current rise of anti-Semitism in Hungary, which is being propagated primarily by
the Jobbik party, the heirs of the fascist Arrow Cross,” said Dr. Efraim Zuroff,
director of the SWC in Israel, referring to the Hungarian Nazi party during
World War II.
Zuroff welcomed the condemnation that the Hungarian
government issued on Tuesday, but warned that the lack of effective action
against Gyongyosi “will only encourage Jobbik to continue its campaigns of
hatred against Hungarian Jews and Roma.”
On Tuesday, Gyongyosi said on
the Jobbik website that his comments had only referred to Hungarians with dual
“I apologize to my Jewish compatriots for my
declarations that could be misunderstood,” he wrote.
government spokesman’s office issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the
Jobbik politician’s speech, and saying that the office “takes the strictest
possible action against every form of racism and anti-Semitic behavior and does
everything in order to ensure that malicious voices incompatible with European
norms are driven back.”
During the parliament session on Tuesday, several
Hungarian lawmakers donned yellow Stars of David in protest of Gyongyosi’s
Ilana Stein, a spokeswoman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said in
response to the comments that Israel “strongly condemns the anti-Semitism which
manifests itself in declarations such as these.”
She added that Jerusalem
expected the “democratic forces in Hungary to come out against such statements”
and take “all necessary measures to prevent the spread of racism, xenophobia and
anti-Semitism in their country.”
The European Jewish Congress, a
federation of Jewish communities on the continent, also criticized Gyongyosi’s
speech and called for the Jobbik party to be proscribed in the European
Parliament, where it has three sitting MEPs.
“These remarks present an
important challenge for the Hungarian and European Parliament. Either they place
boundaries on hate speech and incitement to violence within representative
parties in their parliaments, or it will lose its moral compass,” said EJC
President Dr. Moshe Kantor.
“We demand outrage from senior Hungarian and
European Union officials after these comments,” he said.
a wide-scale outrage will leave the Jewish community feeling there is
acquiescence that this constitutes acceptable speech and parliamentary
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Herb Keinon contributed to this report.