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WJC to Hungarian PM: 'Actions louder than words'
By SAM SOKOL
06/05/2013
Amid rising levels of xenophobia, PM Viktor Orban tells plenum of World Jewish Congress that Jews are welcome in Hungary.
 
BUDAPEST – The World Jewish Congress has announced that it regretted that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban “did not address any recent anti-Semitic or racist incidents in the country, nor did he provide sufficient reassurance that a clear line has been drawn between his government and the far-Right fringe” during a speech he gave before the WJC 2013 plenum in Budapest on Sunday.

“Actions speak louder than words, no matter how well intended they are,” the spokesman said, explaining that from his perspective, Orban “did not confront the true nature of the problem: the threat posed by the anti- Semites in general and by the extreme-Right Jobbik party in particular.”

Orban announced a “zero tolerance” policy for anti- Semitism during his speech.

Speaking to delegates from over 100 countries, the prime minister, whose country is facing rising levels of xenophobia and intolerance linked to the rise of Jobbik, asked the attendees to tell “the Jewish people of the world” that they are welcome in Hungary.

Referring to a statement by WJC president Ronald Lauder explaining the choice of Budapest as a venue for the plenum, which is usually held in Jerusalem, Orban addressed the delegates, saying that “your leaders justified your visit as drawing the world’s attention to anti- Semitism in Hungary. This is good; we need all [possible] cooperation to combat the spread of hate.”

In introducing Orban, Lauder asked that he “take a firm and decisive lead” against hate. Hungarian Jews, he said, “need your leadership in this fight. They need you to send the message to the entire population that intolerance will not be tolerated.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, we are especially concerned about one particular party,” Lauder said, referring to Jobbik, the third-largest party in Hungary.

“Through its anti-Semitism, its hostility to the Roma [Gypsies], and its paranoid rantings at the outside world, Jobbik is dragging the good name of Hungary through the mud.”

“When Hungarian Jews are attacked by fanatics, they should be able to count on the unequivocal support of their government and of their authorities. It is the authorities that must stop this before it even begins,” he asserted.

Lauder enumerated upon several issues facing the Jews of Hungary.

“In the press and on television, anti-Semitism and incitement against the Roma minority are becoming commonplace, and sometimes even accepted,” he said.

“Today,” Lauder continued, “Jews are again wondering whether they will have to leave the country, for similar reasons.”

Local Jews are wondering “why anti-Semites like [dictator and Holocaust collaborator] Miklós Horthy are being glorified, and why statues honoring them are unveiled by Hungarian officials. Horthy was equivalent to Hitler and seeing statues of him going up sends the wrong signal,” said the WJC president.

However, despite speaking out against anti-Semitism in general terms, Orban did not directly address the specific concerns brought up by Lauder.

Referring to other European countries, Orban told delegates that some of them came from places “where anti-Semitism claims the lives of schoolchildren” and from “places where bomb attacks that claim lives are launched against synagogues” – apparent references to the Ozar Hatorah school shooting in Toulouse, France, and a recently uncovered al-Qaida plot against synagogues in Istanbul.

“Nothing of this nature has occurred in Hungary and we don’t want to be country of this kind, so share your experiences so hate cannot degenerate to this level here,” the prime minister requested.

Orban added that strengthening the religious and national identity of Hungarians will “provide the bedrock for mutual respect” among Jews and gentiles.

Discussing steps taken by his administration, whose ban on a rally by Jobbik against the WJC plenum was overturned by the courts on Friday, Orban said that he had banned the “operations of paramilitary organizations” and that it had been his “moral duty to ban symbols of the dictatorship.”

“We hope that our children will live in an era that anti- Semitism is inconceivable as the age in which we suffered from the plague” is to people today, Orban said, concluding that “we shall not be inactive” against hate.

Following the Hungarian premier’s speech, Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom said that the Jobbik party wanted the “Jews out of Hungary” and that while he appreciated Orban’s speech against anti-Semitism, it was “high time to implement” these words in a concrete way.

Several Jewish student organizations engaged in a silent protest of Orban’s speech. Earlier in the day, representatives of the European Union of Jewish Students and affiliated organizations distributed flyers bearing the message “Don’t clap for Orban.”

“We fear that by inviting the Hungarian prime minister...

the World Jewish Congress and its affiliates risk legitimizing his government’s actions, therefore undermining future criticism of its policies concerning rising anti-Semitism and the situation of the Jewish community and other minorities,” the flyer read.

The EUJS is concerned, executive director Nathan Chicheportiche told The Jerusalem Post, with the support of Hungarian authorities for the erection of statues honoring Horthy and similar state-sponsored actions that would seem to provide legitimacy to anti-minority sentiments.

In response to the WJC critique of Orban’s speech, the Hungarian International Communications Office sent out a counter-statement, informing journalists that the “Hungarian government’s Christian Democratic [People’s Party] policy had felt that it was its moral obligation to introduce a memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust in Hungarian schools.”

After the court ruling overturning his ban of Jobbik’s protest against the WJC, the statement continued, Orban “instructed the minister of interior to ‘use all lawful means’ to prevent the event and requested that the Supreme Court ‘examine what legal means Hungary had at its disposal to enforce its constitution.’” “The prime minister,” the government announced, has “without hesitation, firmly and consequently excluded the possibility of any kind of cooperation with Jobbik, calling them a danger to Hungarian democracy.”BUDAPEST – The World Jewish Congress has announced that it regretted that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban “did not address any recent anti-Semitic or racist incidents in the country, nor did he provide sufficient reassurance that a clear line has been drawn between his government and the far-Right fringe” during a speech he gave before the WJC 2013 plenum in Budapest on Sunday.

“Actions speak louder than words, no matter how well intended they are,” the spokesman said, explaining that from his perspective, Orban “did not confront the true nature of the problem: the threat posed by the anti- Semites in general and by the extreme-Right Jobbik party in particular.”

Orban announced a “zero tolerance” policy for anti- Semitism during his speech.

Speaking to delegates from over 100 countries, the prime minister, whose country is facing rising levels of xenophobia and intolerance linked to the rise of Jobbik, asked the attendees to tell “the Jewish people of the world” that they are welcome in Hungary.

Referring to a statement by WJC president Ronald Lauder explaining the choice of Budapest as a venue for the plenum, which is usually held in Jerusalem, Orban addressed the delegates, saying that “your leaders justified your visit as drawing the world’s attention to anti- Semitism in Hungary. This is good; we need all [possible] cooperation to combat the spread of hate.”

In introducing Orban, Lauder asked that he “take a firm and decisive lead” against hate. Hungarian Jews, he said, “need your leadership in this fight. They need you to send the message to the entire population that intolerance will not be tolerated.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, we are especially concerned about one particular party,” Lauder said, referring to Jobbik, the third-largest party in Hungary.

“Through its anti-Semitism, its hostility to the Roma [Gypsies], and its paranoid rantings at the outside world, Jobbik is dragging the good name of Hungary through the mud.”

“When Hungarian Jews are attacked by fanatics, they should be able to count on the unequivocal support of their government and of their authorities. It is the authorities that must stop this before it even begins,” he asserted.

Lauder enumerated upon several issues facing the Jews of Hungary.

“In the press and on television, anti-Semitism and incitement against the Roma minority are becoming commonplace, and sometimes even accepted,” he said.

“Today,” Lauder continued, “Jews are again wondering whether they will have to leave the country, for similar reasons.”

Local Jews are wondering “why anti-Semites like [dictator and Holocaust collaborator] Miklós Horthy are being glorified, and why statues honoring them are unveiled by Hungarian officials. Horthy was equivalent to Hitler and seeing statues of him going up sends the wrong signal,” said the WJC president.

However, despite speaking out against anti-Semitism in general terms, Orban did not directly address the specific concerns brought up by Lauder.

Referring to other European countries, Orban told delegates that some of them came from places “where anti-Semitism claims the lives of schoolchildren” and from “places where bomb attacks that claim lives are launched against synagogues” – apparent references to the Ozar Hatorah school shooting in Toulouse, France, and a recently uncovered al-Qaida plot against synagogues in Istanbul.

“Nothing of this nature has occurred in Hungary and we don’t want to be country of this kind, so share your experiences so hate cannot degenerate to this level here,” the prime minister requested.

Orban added that strengthening the religious and national identity of Hungarians will “provide the bedrock for mutual respect” among Jews and gentiles.

Discussing steps taken by his administration, whose ban on a rally by Jobbik against the WJC plenum was overturned by the courts on Friday, Orban said that he had banned the “operations of paramilitary organizations” and that it had been his “moral duty to ban symbols of the dictatorship.”

“We hope that our children will live in an era that anti- Semitism is inconceivable as the age in which we suffered from the plague” is to people today, Orban said, concluding that “we shall not be inactive” against hate.

Following the Hungarian premier’s speech, Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom said that the Jobbik party wanted the “Jews out of Hungary” and that while he appreciated Orban’s speech against anti-Semitism, it was “high time to implement” these words in a concrete way.

Several Jewish student organizations engaged in a silent protest of Orban’s speech. Earlier in the day, representatives of the European Union of Jewish Students and affiliated organizations distributed flyers bearing the message “Don’t clap for Orban.”

“We fear that by inviting the Hungarian prime minister...

the World Jewish Congress and its affiliates risk legitimizing his government’s actions, therefore undermining future criticism of its policies concerning rising anti-Semitism and the situation of the Jewish community and other minorities,” the flyer read.

The EUJS is concerned, executive director Nathan Chicheportiche told The Jerusalem Post, with the support of Hungarian authorities for the erection of statues honoring Horthy and similar state-sponsored actions that would seem to provide legitimacy to anti-minority sentiments.

In response to the WJC critique of Orban’s speech, the Hungarian International Communications Office sent out a counter-statement, informing journalists that the “Hungarian government’s Christian Democratic [People’s Party] policy had felt that it was its moral obligation to introduce a memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust in Hungarian schools.”

After the court ruling overturning his ban of Jobbik’s protest against the WJC, the statement continued, Orban “instructed the minister of interior to ‘use all lawful means’ to prevent the event and requested that the Supreme Court ‘examine what legal means Hungary had at its disposal to enforce its constitution.’” “The prime minister,” the government announced, has “without hesitation, firmly and consequently excluded the possibility of any kind of cooperation with Jobbik, calling them a danger to Hungarian democracy.”
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