'Israel backing Hungary to chair Holocaust forum'

Senior adviser to Prime Minister Orban says Israel backing Budapest’s quest for chairmanship of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

May 24, 2013 03:46
3 minute read.
‘THE JERUSALEM POST’S Sam Sokol (left) interviews Hungarian PM chief adviser Perenyiat (right)

Sokol interviews Hungarian PM advisor 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The Foreign Ministry is backing Hungary’s quest to assume the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2015, Hungarian prime ministerial chief adviser Zsigmond Perenyi told The Jerusalem Post.

During an interview at the King David Hotel on Wednesday, Perenyi – who was heading a diplomatic delegation to Jerusalem dealing with issues pertaining to the rise of the anti-Semitic far Right in his country and governmental efforts to improve Holocaust education – said that during meetings at the ministry in Jerusalem, officials “promised their support” for Hungarian efforts to secure the rotating chairmanship of the international forum.

Hungary is currently grappling with the rise of the Jobbik party, a nationalist faction that came out of nowhere to become Hungary’s third-largest parliamentary faction during elections in 2010.

According to a recent report by the US State Department, “Anti-Semitic remarks in public discourse also increased in stridency and included both a repetition of ‘blood libel’ accusations and a call for the creation of a list of Jewish government officials and members of parliament on the floor of parliament.”

The “primary cause” of the delegation’s visit was the desire to confer with Israeli officials and civil society organizations regarding Hungary’s upcoming Holocaust remembrance year in 2014, Perenyi said.

According to Hungarian deputy state secretary Péter Mikecz, who was also present during the interview, this yearlong commemoration of the genocide of Hungarian Jewry will “involve as many as possible nongovernmental organizations from the civil society and the Jewish community.”

In talks with Foreign Ministry officials, he said, the delegation “elaborated a detailed plan for the commemoration year.”

Aside from commemorating the “big anniversaries,” such as International Holocaust Day, Hungarian Holocaust Day and the Roma Holocaust, he said, the commemoration year will also be focused on preserving Jewish heritage sites throughout the country that may have been neglected because “the local community or the society couldn’t pay enough attention.”

“This is why we came to Israel, because this is the field [in which] we can involve the Israeli organizations and authorities very easily, and it will be very useful to the Hungarian side,” Mikecz explained.

“In the process of collaboration” with local organizations, Mikecz said, “we realized this initiative, this program, is not for a year, it’s a long-term project. It’s much beyond the commemoration year.”

The basic aim of the program, he further clarified, is to provide Holocaust education to “to every school, to every schoolchild. To the next generation.

It’s a very important point that in the basic curriculum of the different schools we should include the Holocaust commemoration and remembrance.”

In that vein, Perenyi said that the Hungarian government “would like to contact each and every Hungarian school [from which] Jewish children were deported and to put a commemoration plaque in the school with their names.”

“During the discussions, we touched upon the anti-Semitism in general and the Jobbik [party] and we agreed that the most important element of this program… is the education,” Perenyi asserted.

Another aspect of the commemoration work, he said, was to show Hungarians “the loss we suffered with the disappearance of a large part of the Jewish community in Hungary... because their absence was a big loss for Hungarian society.”

Perenyi told the Post that his team had a “very useful, important and good [meeting] at Yad Vashem,” where they “asked the assistance and help of Yad Vashem, because we realize that it’s a very important institution with huge experience and knowledge and background in this field.”

Specifically, he said, “we asked them to let us know where they see the possibility of cooperation between the Hungarian government and Yad Vashem, specifically in this program and generally as well.”

Related Content

Joan Rivers
August 28, 2014
Joan Rivers rushed to hospital following throat surgery


Cookie Settings