Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban 300 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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NUMEROUS statues and memorial plaques are being unveiled and prominent squares
and avenues renamed up and down Hungary in honor of Admiral Miklós Horthy, the
country’s wartime regent and the politician most responsible for the Holocaust
murder of close to 600,000 Jews.
Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and
Nobel laureate, recently returned a prestigious decoration bestowed upon him by
the Hungarian government in protest against its rehabilitation of two minor
deceased writers whose only claim to fame was their anti-Semitism. The latest
International Religious Freedom report issued by the US State Department
criticized the rise of anti-Semitism in Hungary and the failure to prosecute the
disseminators of anti-Semitic statements.
Much of the blame for all this
must lie with Viktor Orbán, the authoritarian, populist, ultra-conservative
Hungarian prime minister. But, in a timely and brilliant new political analysis,
Paul Lendvai, the doyen of European foreign correspondents, carefully and
rightly refrains from calling him an anti- Semite.
In his unbridled lust
for personal power, Orbán has released the long suppressed, xenophobic hatreds
festering in the collective consciousness of this much-abused
Those demons are now poised to destroy him and capture his
people. Lendvai and many others well disposed towards Hungary fear that, in the
absence of a credible, coherent, democratic-minded parliamentary opposition, the
rising discontent of the electorate may one day force Orbán’s Fidesz
administration to share power with the aggressively growing far-right Jobbik
party, a creature of his own making.
Lendvai has been based in
neighboring Vienna since the failed anti-Soviet Hungarian revolution of 1956, in
which he participated as a freedom fighter. He is a Jew, who lost much of his
family in the Holocaust and witnessed, as a young adolescent in Budapest, the
gratuitous murder of tens of thousands of civilian captives by the Nazi rabble
of the Hungarian Arrow Cross – the role models of the Jobbik party today –
during the final phase of World War II.
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His sympathetic coverage of
Hungary’s now floundering efforts to build a liberal democracy after the painful
decades of Soviet tyranny that ended nearly a quarter century ago have won this
country many friends abroad.For more in-depth reporting and insight from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World subscribe to The Jerusalem Report
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