Anti-Semitism has long been a problem in Hungary. Fears were stoked (and challenged) after the country’s elections in April, when the center-right Fidesz party won a commanding majority and the Fascist Jobbik party took more parliamentary seats than any other far-right party since the Nazi era. What would this mean for the Jews? (Let alone for the Roma, who according to all our sources, face the greatest discrimination and hate.)
Much to our excitement, Orban granted a rare interview to Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli daily and tried to answer this question. Topics included anti-Semitism in Hungary, Jobbik’s influence, the relationship between Hungary and Israel, and more.
We strongly encourage you to read the whole interview, but while you do, be on the lookout for Orban’s smooth ability to spin, spin, spin the truth to his advantage.
- Orban says that Jobbik attacks him more than Jews. He is the real victim.
- When told that the President of the European Jewish Congress declared that the level of anti-Semitism in Hungary is “far from being acceptable,” and asked if he was concerned, Orban simply responded, “No,” quickly adding, “but the situation is not alright.”
- To be fair, he does later say “We must fight anti-Semitism,” but how big of a priority can this be for him if he is not concerned?
- Brilliantly, Orban then links the prevalence of anti-Semitism on the Internet to the importance and humaneness of his restrictive new media law:
“We are not pleased with [Hungary’s anti-Semitic culture, especially on the Internet]. We are looking for the means to deal with this phenomenon, including by establishing a government body which will supervise the media. The problem is that the EU is preventing us from establishing this body. The discussions on the matter are ongoing. We’ve sent letters to the American Administration demanding that it operate against the far-right websites, but the Americans claim it is part of free speech. I don’t like this attitude. We must fight anti-Semitism.”
Of course, it is wonderful to read that Orban admits anti-Semitism is a problem in Hungary, that he discredits the popular argument that there is a Jewish conspiracy in Hungary to take over the country, and that he envisions positive relations with the State of Israel. This is good.
Still, comments like the following one make us pause and question his true intent (…can you say “power-hungry”??):
“We have good ties with the [Jewish] community, but we must be aware of the fact that because the recent dictatorships which acted against the Jews came from the Right, the Jews lean towards liberalism and the Left. It will take time before people can base their decisions on the future rather than on the past.”
Hungarian PM: Don’t Call Me a Thug by Eldad Beck in Yedioth Ahronoth (YnetNews), February 2, 2011