Head of Hungarian Jewish community resigns

Peter Feldmajer’s exit comes less than a week after hosting high-profile WJC assembly in Budapest.

PETER FELDMAJER, 370 (photo credit: Sam Sokol)
(photo credit: Sam Sokol)
Peter Feldmajer, the president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ) resigned after a no-confidence vote during a general meeting of the organization on Sunday.
Feldmajer’s removal comes after his prominent participation at the World Jewish Congress’s 14th Plenary Assembly in Budapest last week.
According to a report by Hungarian news agency Magyar Távirati Iroda, communal representatives at the meeting accepted the resignation of the entire MAZSIHISZ board of governors after Feldmajer called for the noconfidence vote.
The only member of the board who retained his position was executive director Gusztav Zoltai, who will be serving as interim president until a successor to Feldmajer can be chosen. An election for Feldmajer’s replacement must take place within a month.
According to the news agency, Feldmajer lost by 38 votes, with 49 out of 89 ballots expressing a lack of confidence in his continued leadership.
There has been speculation in the Hungarian press that Feldmajer faced opposition over his role in a 2007 reparations agreement between the Hungarian government, the Jewish Heritage of Hungary Public Endowment (Mazsok) and the US-based Claims Conference, in which Hungary gave the two Jewish organizations $21 million in damages to be distributed to Holocaust survivors hailing from the Central European country.
According to Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet, there has been opposition within the Jewish community to Feldmajer’s role in the deal as a member of the board of Mazsok.
The deal, which a new Hungarian political website Politics.
hu termed “unfavorable,” granted two-thirds of the money to the Claims Conference, which the Hungarian government demanded be returned last year.
The Hungarian government claimed that the Claims Conference was “unable to render an account of the funds used” and was thus “obliged to repay the funds it had received.”
The government demanded that Mazsok be allowed to disburse the Claims Conference’s share of the reparation funds.
The Claims Conference countered that it had emailed a 400-page report detailing the names of all those who had received disbursements, as well as an accounting of the sums granted.
Zoltai was quoted by the Magyar Távirati Iroda news agency as saying that such rumors were not brought up during the meeting.
Feldmajer did not always adequately represent Hungarian Jews, MAZSIHISZ delegate Peter Deutsch was quoted by Magyar Nemzet as saying.
Both Feldmajer and Tamas Desi – the Jewish community’s Secretary for Foreign Relations – confirmed the no-confidence vote. However, Feldmajer declined to comment further on the matter, telling The Jerusalem Post he didn’t “want to say anything.”
Zoltai did not immediately respond to a request for comment.