The Foreign Ministry summoned the Hungarian ambassador to Jerusalem on Thursday, in a rare move to voice Israel’s “deep concern” over growing anti-Semitic incidents in the country.
Rafi Schutz, the ministry’s deputy director-general for Europe, told Ambassador Andor Nagy that Israel was also worried about anti-Semitic statements in the political arena that call into question Hungary’s willingness to deal truthfully and courageously with its past.
He said there were worrying trends toward re-writing the history of the Holocaust and the role that Hungary’s anti-Semitic wartime leader Miklos Horthy played in it, as well as a forgiving attitude by some government officials toward anti-Semitic trends.
Schutz cited a recent conference held in Budapest’s House of Terror museum that he said tried to “rewrite history” and Horthy’s cooperation with the Nazis. He also bewailed the intention to build a new memorial marking the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, while ignoring the Hungarian cooperation in the deportation and destruction of the Jewish community.
Schutz also referred to comments made recently by Sandor Szakaly, director of the state-sponsored Veritas Historical Research Institute, who minimized the deportation and massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Kamianets-Podilskyi by the Nazis and their Hungarian collaborators as a “police action against aliens.”
And Schutz expressed concern about permission recently granted the Nazi Hungarian Dawn Party (NFP) to take part in the upcoming parliamentarian elections, even though it has an anti-Semitic and racist ideology.
Its participation in the election was permitted by the National Election Committee. Another anti-Semitic Party, Jobbik, is the third biggest party in the country, and according to opinion polls stands to garner nearly 10 percent of the vote in the elections on April 6.
More than a half million Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust, with Hungarians helping the Nazis deport 437,000 Jews in March 1944, while Horthy was still in power On Sunday, the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) declared the boycott of all events associated with Hungary’s 2014 Holocaust remembrance year over allegations that the government has recently been engaged in historical revisionism in order to minimize the country’s role in the genocide.
Sam Sokol contributed to this report.