Israeli expert: Jobbik gains ‘should worry the Jews’

Tel Aviv historian says advances by anti-Roma, anti-Semitic party are concerning in regard to its aim to tackle minority groups.

October 14, 2014 20:09
2 minute read.

A member of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party, delivers a speech to hundreds of far-right supporters during a rally against the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in Budapest May 4, 2013. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Despite a solid electoral showing by Hungary’s ruling Fidesz Party in Sunday’s nationwide municipal elections, gains made by the ultra-nationalist Jobbik Party “should worry the Jews in the context of rising against the ‘other,’” said historian Dr. Raphael Vago of Tel Aviv University.

While the ruling center- right party continued its overwhelming dominance throughout the country, the anti-Roma and anti-Semitic Jobbik continued making gains against the Socialist Party, making it the second- biggest opposition party.

The party received international media attention when one of its parliamentarians called for the government to draw up a list of Jews.

In April, Jobbik worried Hungarian Jewry when it became the third-largest party in parliament, receiving 21 percent of the vote.

“The result of Jobbik is very concerning,” Andras Heisler, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz), told The Jerusalem Post at the time.

Jobbik campaigned actively against the country’s Roma, or Gypsy, minority, promising to tackle what the party describes as “Gypsy crime.”

In Ozd, an industrial town of 35,000 people in northeastern Hungary, Jobbik’s victorious campaign was based on the promise to issue an ultimatum to the Roma – follow our rules or leave town.

The town of Ozd was the biggest prize won by Jobbik in the municipal elections, in which it increased the numbers of City Hall seats it controls from three to 14.

According to a manifesto posted on the Jobbik site next to a photograph of Ozd’s newly elected mayor, David Janiczak, “We think there are two ways to solve the Gypsy question... The first one is based on peaceful consent, the second on radical exclusion.”

“Our party wishes to offer one last chance to the destructive minority that lives here, so first it will consider peaceful consent. If that agreement fails, then and only then the radical solution can follow,” it said.

While Janiczak is reported to have taken a softer line since winning the municipal election, promising to “create jobs and enforce order for Roma and Hungarians alike,” there is still considerable suspicion of the far-right party among Hungarian Jews.

“The Jewish community will be worried that Jobbik is gaining more popularity, also on the local level, on the continuing rise of nationalist agitation, and hatred of the ‘other,’” said Vago.

“As far as I know, the Jewish population in Jobbik-ruled councils is almost nil, so there is no practical danger looming over the Jews. These are usually neglected, ‘left behind’ neighborhoods. The Jews will also learn that the tendency to exclude the ‘other’ is gaining more popularity than the trend for more social inclusion and integration,” he said.

While the Mazsihisz was unable to reply to inquires before this article went to press due to the Succot holiday, there is little reason to suspect that the Jewish organization is mollified by Janiczak’s rhetoric.

This summer, Jobbik politicians were intimately involved in the opening of a Budapest photo exhibit on Israel’s Gaza incursion.

During the opening of the exhibit, Jobbik MEP Krisztina Morvai called for the cancellation of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and Jobbik MP Márton Gyöngyösi asserted, according to the party website, that “Israel is now conducting a genocide similar to the one suffered by the Jewry in World War II.”

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