WJC calls for European ban on ‘neo-Nazi parties’

"The Jobbik party is a danger to all Hungarians," local Jewish leader tells 'Post' on last day of World Jewish Congress.

Far-right Jobbik party rally370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Far-right Jobbik party rally370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BUDAPEST – European governments should consider a ban on neo-Nazi parties, the World Jewish Congress announced on Tuesday, the final day of the global Jewish umbrella organization’s 14th plenary assembly.
Delegates representing Jewish communities in more than 100 countries approved the resolution calling for the ban due to the rise of far-right nationalist movements in Greece, Hungary and the Ukraine.
The WJC noted what it termed the “lack of appropriate and energetic action on the part of German democrats that led to the rise to power of the Nazis,” as a motivating factor for the resolution urging “parliaments and governments in countries in Europe to enact and enforce legislation, against threats of violence, racist hate and insults and the denial of the Holocaust.”
Parties like the Greek Golden Dawn, Ukrainian Svoboda and Hungarian Jobbik shocked European Jews as they gained unprecedented representation in their respective countries’ parliaments.
Jobbik, which has accused Israelis of “buying” up Hungarian land and which has called for the compilation of a list of Jews serving in government due to concerns over disloyalty, is now Hungary’s third-largest party.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided not to seek a ban on the far-right National Democratic Party because it is not clear whether such a ban would be constitutional. Nevertheless, the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament that represents the 16 federal states, has begun its own effort to ban the party, he said.
The Jobbik party’s paramilitary arm, the New Hungarian Guard, has reminded some local Jews of the Nazi SA “brownshirts” and local communal leader Peter Feldmajer told The Jerusalem Post that many Holocaust survivors now “hear the same voices that they did in the past.” However, he said, the younger generation stands ready to “fight back.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has spoken out against anti-Semitism, but his administration has come under fire for the erection of statues dedicated to World War II era dictator and Nazi-collaborator Miklós Horthy.
Despite tough words against hate at the opening session of the WJC plenum on Sunday evening, the Jewish group was not satisfied, issuing a statement that “actions speak louder than words.”
“He missed a golden opportunity,” said WJC president Ronald Lauder, who, while introducing Orbán, had specifically asked him to denounce the populist party.
Robin Shepherd, author of a study for the WJC on neo-Nazi parties in Europe, told the assembly Fidesz was not anti- Semitic but it competed with Jobbik for votes among nationalists frustrated by the economic crisis and resentful of foreign influence in Hungary.
“If Orbán goes too hard against Jobbik, he’s worried he won’t be able to scoop up Jobbik’s voters,” he said.
Jobbik and the Golden Dawn, the WJC resolution stated, “openly glorify Hitler’s Nazi regime; publicly utilize Nazi terminology in respect of Jews and other minorities; and espouse the toxic combination of extreme anti-Semitic discourse, aggressive national chauvinism, and anti-capitalist and anti-socialist rhetoric that hallmarked the thinking and deeds of the Nazi Party.”
The resolution also called on Hungary to recognize that Jobbik and the New Hungarian Guard “pose a fundamental threat to Hungary’s democracy,” a sentiment echoed by Feldmajer in an interview with the Post on Sunday.
“The far right is not just a problem of the Jewish people in Hungary or the gypsies,” Feldmajer told the Post, calling it a “problem [that] can destroy the [larger] Hungarian society.”
Feldmajer also stated that in his estimation, the Hungarian government has taken “some steps” against “anti-Semitic voices and the anti-Semitic movement” over the past half a year, but that it was too early to tell how successful such efforts would prove to be.
The resolution called for further action on the part of the authorities, stipulating that they “take effective measures including by enacting and enforcing legislation, for the protection of all citizens and residents of this country.”
The WJC urged Orbán “and other national leaders and legislators in Europe” to sign the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism, a 2009 document calling on parliamentarians to “expose, challenge and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target the State of Israel as a Jewish collectivity.”
The Jewish organization also called on countries whose “Jewish populations were decimated in the Shoah” to effect a ban on Holocaust denial.
David Saltiel, Greek Jewish community leader, said that his nation’s government after lobbying by the WJC, had assured him it would soon pass a tough hate speech law that would outlaw incitement against people because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation; and impose up to six years in prison on offenders.
“We think with this law, [Golden Dawn] will be brought back to the small numbers it had before,” he said.Reuters contributed to this report.