World Jewish Congress to meet in Budapest

Hungary ‘on a dangerous track,’ says Congress’s Lauder.

Far-right Jobbik party rally370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Far-right Jobbik party rally370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The World Jewish Congress will be hold its plenary assembly in Budapest Sunday through Tuesday to discuss, among other matters, “the alarming rise of neo-Nazi political parties in several European and other countries.”
A new WJC executive will be selected and organizational priorities will be set for the coming year.
Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Hungary, mirroring the political fortunes of the farright Jobbik party and its paramilitary arm, the New Hungarian Guard. The party entered parliament in 2010, garnering 43 out of 386 mandates, making it the thirdlargest faction. The party also holds two seats in the European Parliament.
Jobbik leaders have publicly called on the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to draw up lists of Jews, who Jobbik leader Marton Gyongyosi considers a “security risk.”
Orbán is slated to open Sunday’s session of the congress, speaking immediately after local community President Dr. Péter Feldmájer. He will be introduced by WJC President Ronald Lauder, who recently accused him of having “lost his political compass” in an op-ed in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Lauder lambasted Orbán for seeming to “emphasize just one thing: Hungary’s presumed strength as a national powerhouse,” and for seemingly seeking an accommodation with the farright supporters of Jobbik, whose rising popularity, Lauder said, threatens Orbán’s standing.
“Jobbik’s ideology is close to that of the Nazis,” Lauder asserted, saying that while Orbán had promised to protect the Jewish community, he had also said his party “seeks to revive ‘national symbols,’” a statement that Lauder believes to be a “subliminal message” to Jobbik voters.
“The number of anti-Semitic or anti-Roma statements increased dramatically in recent years, and some of them have come from senior members of the prime minister’s party or his government,” he said.
Saying anti-Semitism must be combated on the government level, Lauder added, “It is for this reason that the World Jewish Congress will hold its plenary assembly meeting in Budapest in May.
We want to send a strong signal that Hungary – home to the third-largest Jewish community in the European Union – is on a dangerous track.”
The congressional meeting in Budapest is the first time in several years that the annual event has been held outside Jerusalem, a fact that Feldmajer played up in a statement to the European Jewish Press.
“The fact that the WJC is holding its plenary assembly in Budapest is a symbol of solidarity with our Jewish community, which has been faced with growing anti- Semitism in recent years,” he said.
Jobbik held a demonstration in Budapest on Saturday in opposition to the WJC meeting, after a court determined on Friday that police had overstepped their authority in trying to block the protest.
In a statement four days ago, the Hungarian government said Orbán had “instructed Minister of Interior Affairs Sándor Pintér to not allow any event or demonstration that could harm human dignity.”
Senior figures from Jobbik harangued the crowd with charges that President Shimon Peres had praised Jews for buying property in Hungary.
They said the WJC had decided to hold its four-yearly gathering in Budapest to shame the Hungarian people.
“The Israeli conquerors, these investors, should look for another country in the world for themselves, because Hungary is not for sale,” Jobbik chairman Gabor Vona told the rally near the neo-Gothic parliament along the Danube River.
“Our country has become subjugated to Zionism, it has become a target of colonization while we, the indigenous people, can play only the role of extras,” Marton Gyongyosi, a Jobbik member of parliament, told the crowd.
WJC spokesman Michael Thaidigsmann said: “We find it a worrying sign that these people express their anti- Semitic and anti-Israeli ideology in such a public way.”Reuters contributed to this report.