The World Jewish Congress was highly disappointed with PM Viktor Orbán's opening speech

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Hungary's prime minister angered the participants of the World Jewish Congress, because instead of taking specific measures he attempted to play down the problem of anti-Semitism, while right-wing extremists roamed the streets of Budapest writes Der Spiegel online edition.

Der Spiegel interviewed Vera Vadas who was born in May 1945, one day after the Bergen-Belsen camp was liberated. Vadas grew up in Budapest and in 1998 founded the Jewish Summer Festival. She has always been openly proud of her Jewish descent, and never had problem with it. But since a few years she has been feeling uncomfortable because anti-Semitism is growing in the country. "We're not in danger, but it is outrageous how far the country has come on anti-Semitism" said Vadas.

There is a far-right party supported by 17 percent of the population, and a majority government whose members openly voicing anti-Roma and anti-Semitic sentiments; the head of government holds anti-European and nationalist speeches on a weekly basis; these are the facts and some 100 thousand Jews see things the same way says Vadas.

As a matter of convention, the welcome speech at the opening ceremony of the World Jewish Congress always given by the head of government of the host country. Participants of the congress however, expected more from the prime minister rather than just condemning anti-Semitism; they wanted to hear evidence indicating that he and his party break off all contacts with the “extremist party”. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder strongly criticized PM Viktor Orbán for losing his political compass. During the opening ceremony Sunday night Lauder struck a more conciliatory tone. "The Jews in Hungary needs you to send a message to the entire country that intolerance is unacceptable,” said Lauder.

Viktor Orbán's speech raised high expectations, but it was disappointing: Orbán as many other times before, condemned anti-Semitism and declared that his government had zero-tolerance policy against hate, but "he is not facing the real nature of the problem, which in general is anti-Semitism, and in particular the threat of the far-right Jobbik party"; in addition, he complained about the unfair criticism of Hungary said Jewish sources.

Unlike in other countries, no one attacks synagogues in Hungary, and the government has implemented a series of measures against anti-Semitism, it does its best to make sure that the "horrors of the Holocaust" will never be forgotten said the prime minister.

According to Der Spiegel, the applause after the speech was restrained and many people were disappointed. "I expected much more," said the President of the German Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann to Spiegel Online. The World Jewish Congress lacked in the prime minister's speech the "specific counter-measures against the extreme right." A lot of Hungarian-Jewish observers were also disappointed, they thought that the speech was a "travesty". (What they hoped for is the ban of Jobbik ed.)

Moshe Kantor, who has been elected as the co-chairman of the World Jewish Congress yesterday, asked the prime minister “why don't you use your parliamentary majority and ban Jobbik? There ought to be limits to democracy. This is just a politically incorrect statement on my part, but otherwise we move towards disaster. " said Kantor.

(Der Spiegel – HVG – kuruc.info – index.hu - hungarianambiance.com)

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