Hungary envoy slams far-right call for list of Jews

Budapest's ambassador to Israel tells 'Post' that Jews in his country are in no danger, shouldn't feel need to leave Hungary.

Jobbik political party leader Gyongyosi 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jobbik political party leader Gyongyosi 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hungary’s Jews are in no danger and need not feel they should leave the country, Budapest’s envoy to Israel, Zoltan Szentgyorgyi, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Szentgyorgyi was relating to far-right Hungarian political leader Marton Gyongyosi’s call for the government to draw up a list of Jews in Hungary who posed a “national security threat.”
There are an estimated 100,000 Jews in the country.
“As a Hungarian patriot, my goal is to live in a country where communities can live according to their culture and tradition, and would like to raise my children in such a place,” the ambassador said.
Szentgyorgyi, who has served as his country’s envoy to Israel for the last five years, stressed that the Hungarian government roundly condemned Gyongyosi’s suggestion.
Gyongyosi is the deputy leader of the far-right, anti-Semitic and anti-Roma Jobbik party, which is the third-largest party in the Hungarian parliament with 47 of the parliament’s 386 seats.
Szentgyorgyi said that all the country’s political parties condemned the move, and that a spontaneous demonstration against it took place in front of the Hungarian parliament with demonstrators wearing yellow stars in solidarity.
The ambassador said it was impossible to deny that anti-Semitism existed in Hungary, and that the way to reduce the influence of the extremist party was by “good governance.”
Szentgyorgyi said he expected the Jobbik party to lose ground in the 2014 elections.
He added that despite manifestations of anti-Semitism, the Israeli public still trusts Hungary, as hundreds of Israeli families send their children to study in Hungarian universities and Israeli investors continue to invest in the economy. He said that while anti-Semitism was not a “cloud” over bilateral ties, it was an “important point” for Israeli’s political class.
“We understand this,” he said, urging Israelis not to paint all Hungarians with one brush, but to make the distinction between one extremist party and the rest of the political movements in the country.
What was important, he said, was that the Hungarian government, all the other political parties and the president issued condemnations..
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, however, urged the country to do more, including outlawing the Jobbik party. He wrote a letter to Hungarian President Janos Ader saying it was “hard to believe that this terrible proposal could be heard in a European parliament in 2012. It is hard to believe that the lessons of World War II, when Jews were counted and then led in cattle cars to ghettos and extermination camps, was not learned and engraved in the chronicles of European nations.”
Rivlin pointed out that Ader, who visited Israel earlier this year in conjunction with ceremonies marking the 100th birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, told the Knesset that it was imperative for the world to take a strong and moral stand against anti-Semitism. He called on the Hungarian president to take practical measures toward stamping out anti- Semitism in Hungary, including outlawing Jobbik. He said the president had the democratic tools for further legislation to “isolate people and phenomena that represent a danger to the free world and to Hungary itself.”