Fidesz, Jobbik, antisemitism

The Nyirő controversy doesn’t want to go away. After Elie Wiesel’s letter to László Kövér came the fifty U.S. congressmen’s letter addressed to Viktor Orbán which many people found not sufficiently hard hitting. One of these was András B. Göllner, founder and international spokesman of The Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter. See the text below

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While we welcome the efforts of a significant group of American Congressmen and women to call a halt to the revival and glorification of Hungary’s Nazi past, we are disappointed that this protest addressed by members of the US Congress to Hungary’s Prime Minister totally neglects Mr Orbán’s personal and governmental responsibility for these shameful developments. Those democrats and members of various ethnic minorities, especially the Roma and Hungary’s Jewish community, who are increasingly alarmed by the undemocratic conduct of the Orbán government, will be severely disappointed when they read this congressional letter. If the gentlemen of the Congress have a problem with one of Hungary’s extremist political parties – Jobbik – they should address their concerns to Jobbik’s leader, whose name is Gábor Vona. If someone doesn’t like what’s happening under the watch of a Democratic President in the USA, why call to task the Republican hopeful? This makes no sense and demonstrates a profound political shortsightedness.

There is a great deal of concern that should have been expressed about the undemocratic behavior of Mr Orbán’s ruling party, the Fidesz, and about his party’s own deputy chairman, László Kövér, who, along with senior Fidesz politicians, are busy resurrecting old Nazis from Hungary’s shameful past. Mr Orbán himself has shown time and time again, and publicly, that he is tolerant rather than disdainful of anti-Semitic hate speech (witness his sending of a wreath to the funeral of notorious anti-Semite István Csurka, who has spent the past 20 years ranting against Jews, Roma and Americans, or his close camaraderie with such notorious hate-mongers in his party as Zsolt Bayer and András Bencsik). Why have the Congressmen and women neglected to address these issues, why have they neglected to call to task the Hungarian government for its own acts of anti-democratic, racially motivated actions ?

Dear Congressmen and women ! Your letter is a sadly missed opportunity to lend a hand to Hungary’s civil rights activists who are locked in battle with a government that is trampling on human and civil rights on a daily basis and is trying to turn the clock back to a time when the values that Americans hold dear, and for which American soldiers sacrificed their lives by the tens of thousands, was trampled underfoot by Admiral Horthy and the Hungarian Arrow Cross Party. The Orbán government’s glorification of the Horthy regime, which declared war on the USA, is unacceptable, and concerned members of Congress should have said so, rather than concentrated their criticism on a small opposition party in Hungary’s parliament.

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Then came an article written by Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, which she established in 2008 to carry on the work of her father, the late Congressman Tom Lantos. She teaches human rights and U.S. foreign policy at Tufts University.

I should say a few word about the Tom Lantos Institute. The idea of a Lantos Institute was born during the Gyurcsány and Bajnai governments, but its actual opening was postponed on Fidesz insistence. Viktor Orbán wanted to make sure that all the positions would be filled with his people. In May 2011 the Institute opened its doors and since then it has been doing mighty little. While the whole world is full of news about the growing antisemitism in Hungary, the Tom Lantos Institute managed to squeeze out the following few lines on the subject:

The Tom Lantos Institute strongly condemns the brutal defilement of the statue of Raoul Wallenberg and the degradation of his memory.

As a lifesaver during World War II, when only a few raised their voices and acted, he risked his life and saved tens of thousands of Hungarians from nazi death camps, therefore he deserves the greatest respect from every Hungarian citizen. The defilement is totally unacceptable and especially brutal and sad during the Wallenberg Year in Hungary, when we celebrate and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg.

After Elie Wiesel’s letter to László Kövér, Katrina Lantos Swett decided to write a piece that appeared in The Huffington Post. Note that the Tom Lantos Institute to this day has officially said nothing about Elie Wiesel’s outrage over what’s going on in Hungary with government support.

I will quote here only some of the more important parts of Ms Swett’s letter. Referring to manifestations of antisemitic sentiments she wrote:

Such crimes have been rightly condemned by Prime Minister Orban and major opposition political figures, as well as the leaders of many of Hungary’s largest churches. A civilized society would expect nothing less. 

Important and commendable as these efforts are, they are not enough. … And in Hungary, the flagrantly anti-Semitic and anti-Roma Jobbik party has increased its government presence and now holds 46 seats in Parliament. The Orban government must do more than simply support pro-tolerance initiatives; such positive initiatives are easily undermined and ignored when, in Elie Wiesel’s words, “… authorities are encouraging the whitewashing of tragic and criminal episodes in Hungary’s past…”. The current government must put an end to the double standard that allows its Foreign Minister, who is widely seen as a stalwart of tolerance and acceptance, to make a profound statement about a dark period in Hungary’s past while allowing a State Secretary to attend a ceremony for a fascist ideologue like Nyirő.

My father, the late Congressman Tom Lantos, was the only survivor of the Holocaust ever elected to the U.S. Congress and a proud Hungarian-American. He believed deeply in Hungary’s great destiny as a fully democratic and free nation committed to the values of human rights and justice. Were he still alive, I can only imagine that he would applaud the courageous stand that his dear friend Elie Wiesel has taken to help bring attention to the troubling recent events in Hungary. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would call on the Hungarian government to do much more to combat the evil of anti-Semitism and prevent it from ever again taking root along the banks of the Danube River.

Perhaps Katrina Lantos Swett should talk to the men and women who are running the Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest because they seem to be doing absolutely nothing. But I guess we cannot expect much from this institute when its chairman is convinced that one mustn’t criticize the Orbán government because it is Fidesz that is the guarantee of democracy against the growing strength of the extreme right instead of recognizing the true state of affairs, a steady shift toward the extreme right by the government itself.

Katrina Lantos Swett also seems to have realized that something is not quite right with a government whose foreign minister speaks in glowing terms about democracy and tolerance while the undersecretary of culture together with the speaker of the house, who is also a high Fidesz functionary, are assisting in the reburial of a Hungarian Nazi.

And finally, Viktor Orbán also wrote a letter. This time to the fifty congressmen. The complete text is not yet available but I will quote as much as was published in the Hungarian media:

Your letter appeared just in time because I was on the verge of asking your assistance in a matter on which I failed to get satisfaction through international channels and through the [American] embassy…. Our political community [that stands on a Christian democratic basis] is the heir to the Hungarian freedom fighters. We are very proud that we could play an active part in the liberation of our country from Soviet oppression and in the overthrow of communism. Ever since we regained our freedom we have been continuously fighting for the respect of human dignity…. Our embassy in Washington will be glad to give you details on our successes in this respect.

Some of these anti-Semites call the Hungarian government and Viktor Orbán himself “hirelings of Jews,” and these forces “receive considerable support from the United States.” The Hungarian center of antisemitism is a website that operates on an American server. If that problem could get resolved the Hungarian forces of antisemitism would be considerably weakened. “I ask you to assist us in this matter because our request to close this site was rejected by the U.S. government.” 

The truth is that the website to which Orbán is referring to is being produced in Budapest. The editors and correspondents are most likely all well known to the national security officers. The editor-in-chief according to rumor is a Jobbik member of parliament. The only thing the Hungarian police would have to do is to arrest the editors of the online paper. There is plenty of legal justification to do so. But neither the earlier governments nor this one has the guts or the will to do something.

I doubt that the fifty congressmen will be terribly impressed by this letter. They might not even understand what Orbán is talking about. I do hope that people familiar with the Hungarian situation will be able to explain to them that the antisemitic propaganda coming from kuruc.info–because this is the website Orbán is talking about–could easily be handled right in the Hungarian capital.

I also hope that someone will explain to these congressmen that the root of Hungarian antisemitism is not kuruc.info. This website is only the manifestation of a very serious and deep-seated problem which the Hungarian government refuses to face and and combat.

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38 comments

  1. The well-known liberal lawyer, Mr. Peter Kende, has started a law suit last fall against the Hungarian government for ignoring their obligation under the Paris Treaty hat forbids nazi parties and therefore, it is the government obligation by virtue of that treaty to close down the Jobbik. The government, instead of joining the suit as it was its wont, stood by the side while their lackeys at the court declared that they have no jurisdiction. The law suit went nowhere.

  2. London Calling!

    This is Orban being his usual duplicitous self – using his ‘overseas’ hat to lie as usual.
    I think the US and international pressure is becoming inexorable. He must realise that the US won’t swallow this lame excuse this time.

    He will have difficulty in characterising these events as yet another ‘global attack’. With so many attacks coming from different directions – and from people with a deep emotional attachment to Hungary, he will not be able to defend his brazen hypocrisy.

    He will fool his own people of course – but this is now becoming serious.

    A pariah.

    Sanctions soon.

    Regards

    Charlie

  3. Orban the 5th is lying as usual … The Hungarian government did absolutely nothing to shut down the kuruc.info servers in the US. In 2008 it took only a few hours for Laszlo Bartus, the editor of the American Nepszava. He walked into the office of their internet provider in New Jersey and explained what the kuruc.info is.

  4. London Calling (2)

    I forgot another ‘flash’ thought that escaped.

    This “Your letter appeared just in time because I was on the verge…..” (Yea! Right!) device is very similar to the one he used for Hillary Clinton:

    “……although the Media Authority works independently from the government (Yea! Right!) in Hungary, I requested information about the decision of the authority upon receiving your letter (Yea! Right!)

    Perhaps I ought to make clear the (Yea! Right!)’s are mine!

    Two ‘devices’ that are extraordinarily immature – who writes this rubbish for him?

    Regards

    Charlie

    (Yea! Right!)

  5. I think OV is truly upset at Kuruc info. No, not because they are spreading antisemitic propaganda, but because they call him, Orban Viktor, a “hirelings of Jews”. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that he is not using this as an opportunity to obfuscate his and his government’s responsibility in the spread of antisemitism in Hungary.

  6. While we’re all being distracted by anti-semitism and the Louis Kovachs of this world, the real point is this: Russia has already given Cyprus 2.5 billion euros and is negotiating a bigger package with better rates than the EU. So–big breath here–how long is it before
    Herr Orban sees the necessity to turn to big brother Putyin for similar aid?

  7. Petofi, I don’t think Cyprus falls into some kind of latter-day domino theory. Russia started taking a strong interest in it in the 90s, where its offshore tax havens provided a nice bolt-hole for Russia’s new-found wealth. Cyprus nearly caused a major crisis around 2000 when it bought an S-300 missile system from Russia to help defend the island in case of an attack by Turkey (only resolved when the missiles were moved someplace else – maybe to defend London against Olympic terrorists). In short, Cyprus has never gone in for anti-Russian sentiment and so doing business over a loan would be quite easy. I can’t imagine the Russians being so generous to a “cold warrior” like Viktor, more like a reply suggesting sex and travel if he tried tapping them for a few billion.

  8. Orban’s “reply” is nothing short of outrageous. Not only that, it also proves the point of András Göllner’s letter. Had the Hungarian government been taken to task for its own direct involvement in the revival of what was the mainstream “Hungarian Christian” (read revisionist and anti-Semitic) mentality of the inter-war years rather than putting all the blame on Jobbik, Orban would not have had such an easy time evading the issue in his usual hypocritical manner.

  9. Lutra lutra :
    Petofi, I don’t think Cyprus falls into some kind of latter-day domino theory. Russia started taking a strong interest in it in the 90s, where its offshore tax havens provided a nice bolt-hole for Russia’s new-found wealth. Cyprus nearly caused a major crisis around 2000 when it bought an S-300 missile system from Russia to help defend the island in case of an attack by Turkey (only resolved when the missiles were moved someplace else – maybe to defend London against Olympic terrorists). In short, Cyprus has never gone in for anti-Russian sentiment and so doing business over a loan would be quite easy. I can’t imagine the Russians being so generous to a “cold warrior” like Viktor, more like a reply suggesting sex and travel if he tried tapping them for a few billion.

    Cyprus is part of the EU and I believe it’s illegal for it to take loans outside of EU backed institutions. Hence an agreement with Russia would be illegal. Hungary, the ne plus ultra of diplomatic mischievousness, would, given a precedent, immediately follow suit; Orban declaring what a genius he was to stall the EU and get ‘cheaper’ money with Russia. While for Russia, 20 billion would be precious little to pay for putting a few cracks into EU solidarity…

  10. petofi :
    Herr Orban sees the necessity to turn to big brother Putyin for similar aid?

    @petofi

    There are differences between Cyprus und Hungary:

    1. Cyprus is sometimes seen as effectively Russia’s offshore financial centre.
    Since February 15, 2012, there is a new Double Tax Treaty with Russia. And now Cyprus is poised to be one of the most financially beneficial jurisdictions for Russia’s entrepreneurs.
    Russian offshore companies will have tax exemptions in Cyprus, as well as in Russia. Furthermore, the Double Tax Treaty will most likely remove Cyprus from Russia’s “black list,” upon which Cyprus was placed on Jan. 1, 2008.
    http://www.lawyer.com.cy/news/russian-investors-expected-to-flock-to-cyprus-investments

    2. Russians see Cyprus property as good investment
    Around 40% of property purchased in 2010 coming from Russia buyers, compared to 40% Cypriot property buyers and 20% from the UK who used to dominate the purchase of property in Cyprus not many years ago.
    http://www.cypruspropertynews.net/russian-investment-in-cyprus-property-market-still-strong/

    What can Orbans Hungary offer to Russia?

  11. Professor you report that ** “The Orbán’s government’s glorification of the Horthy regime, which declared war on the USA”** to which you should have added and the U.K. .
    If Sandor’s report that a Mr. Peter Kende has started legal proceedings against the Hungarian Government for ignoring their obligation under Part 2 (Political Clauses) Section 1 Article 4 of the Paris Treaty 1947. This gentleman should include in his legal action the breaches of Part 3 (Military Clauses) Section Article 14 by allowing the existence of Para-military organizing and permitting them to break Annex 2 (Definition of Military and Military Air Training). This is because the Hungarian Government allows variously called ‘uniformed bands of men to exist and allows them to train in the use of military firearms, to possess and demonstrate the use such firearms.
    It is going to be fun if Mr Kende wins the day because it would mean that Hungary has A) broken its armistice and B) broken the Peace treaty and is therefore again at war with those who granted Hungary the armistice and the Treaty of Peace.
    One can think about the ramifications of this. They are huge.

  12. @Ajtosi: “What can Orbans Hungary offer to Russia?”

    How about a beach-head in helping to break up the EU?
    Common interests–at what point did Orban strike you as EU-friendly?

  13. gdfxx :
    Reading Orban’s letter one has to conclude that impertinence has no limits.

    Reading Orban’s letter, reminds me of Louis Kovach’s posts. Makes me wonder………

  14. Louis Kovach :
    Dr Balogh, are you not a founding and board member of the The Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter?

    Yes, she is. And your point is?
    Louis Kovach, are you not a Fidesz supporter?

  15. Louis Kovach :
    Dr Balogh, are you not a founding and board member of the The Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter?

    You have just remembered this or read it on their web site … ? Kovach research in action …

    As I said earlier, why can’t you just say your opinion, like she is promoting this guy because she is one of the founders.

  16. Eva and the rest, we have to realize that civilization is not in the backpack or on the brain of too many Hungarians. The split is perfect. A minority practices high culture, another minority just barely scratches culture, and the big majority is hostile to culture.

    Jobbik, or old communist ideologues offer an empowerment, the delusion of greatness.
    People are attracted it. They want to belong to the mystical family.

    Like too many confused Arabs are flocking into the false security of the Muslim Brotherhood.

  17. Louis Kovach :
    Mutt:
    At times you get the message….

    … but you still don’t get it do ya? We all know this. There were several posts about or from the The Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter. We don’t care. We just focus on the opinion. Capish?

  18. Not even a Jobbik supporter. I am not even a Hungarian citizen….One cannot follow two lords! Although I do not feel that single loyalty is prevalent on this Spectrum.

  19. Louis Kovach :
    Not even a Jobbik supporter. I am not even a Hungarian citizen….One cannot follow two lords! Although I do not feel that single loyalty is prevalent on this Spectrum.

    Louis, We are not in war with Hungary. Horthy is gone, so you do not have to follow two Lords to be a dual citizen if you wish. Both the USA and Hungary should be a democratic country that respects the rights of all. You should know that as you are an immigrant of the USA! You follow two Lords by the way of routing for anti-semitic views, and lobbying for a dead person who actually encouraged a war against any morality. You are hypocrite Louis who says when you want to worship the ideologies and people who were against a country where you are a citizen of. Not the Republicans and not he Democrats in your country support the what you are lobbying for. SHame on you. Again.

  20. The international condemnation towards this govt. is appreciated but I’m still waiting for people here in this country to wake up and take charge of their lives.

  21. London Calling!

    O/T The bizarre Hussars! (And Kover.)

    “This unit of hussars is said to have arrived after an extremely long final leg that left the animals with hoof wounds. While the group was accompanied by a three-person team seconded from the Hungarian Defense Ministry,………..”

    So sponsored by Orban then? (Denied!)

    This is the precursor to a crack fighting/PR force! Yihaaaaaaaaa!

    http://www.pestiside.hu/20120705/hungarian-hussars-under-suspicion-of-torture-assassination/

    Bizarre!

    Regards

    Charlie

  22. Kovach:”Although I do not feel that single loyalty is prevalent on this Spectrum.”

    Be more explicit! Just say it!

  23. ………..and in case your understanding requires reinforcement – this might help?

    You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

    There sorted!

    Regards

    Charlie

  24. enufff :
    The international condemnation towards this govt. is appreciated but I’m still waiting for people here in this country to wake up and take charge of their lives.

    ENUFF said is right. There is development. A huge number of Hungarians practive decency and fairness.

    We have to send a message to the Vonas and Morvais that they are a shame to humanity.

    Their followers must abandon Jobbik. The followers were blind, and gladly accepted hope and empowerment from the party, which has got no decency.

  25. enuff is absolutely correct, the problem is that there is so much propoganda and lies floating around the country, the people there don’t know what to beleive. Also, they still after 20 some years do not understand what democracy and freedom are, therefore, they rely on their government to teach them. Also, they do not know how to stand up for what they beleive in their hearts, all they know is that it is safer for them to follow, they follow like sheep. It is so dissappointing to see, people are so confused, so many are made to believe that the Fidesz and Jobbik parties are the ones who will demonstrate freedom for them, they refer to themselves as “freedom fighters”, it sickens me because my father was a Hungarian freedom fighter and he is turning in his grave over this, I am sure of that!

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