A Jewish anti-Semite: The case of Csanád Szegedi
It was on June 8 that a Hungarist website called Jövőnk (Our future) after thorough research discovered that one of the very important Jobbik politicians, the anti-Semite Csanád Szegedi, is Jewish on his mother’s side. Jövőnk is written by people who approximately seventy-five years after the fact are followers of Ferenc Szálasi’s Hungarism. I wrote about Szálasi and Hungarism in detail twice in May 2008. Put it this way, the people who write Jövőnk are to the right of Jobbik! Once they discovered that Szegedi’s maternal grandmother’s name was Klein it became obvious to them what is wrong with Jobbik.
Interestingly enough, the announcement didn’t become news for a surprisingly long time. In fact, eight days later Magyar Nemzet predicted that Szegedi would become the chairman of Borsod County’s Jobbik. Indeed, on June 24 he was chosen to be the leader of the Borsod Jobbik party, an important position because Borsod County is a Jobbik stronghold.
Although the media didn’t get wind of it, Szegedi’s Jewish origin must have been a topic of conversation within Jobbik and right-wing circles in general because on June 26 Szegedi admitted that the rumors about his Jewish origin were correct.
The admission, as it turned out later, wasn’t quite truthful because Szegedi claimed that he had discovered the fact only recently. He was, by his own admission, shocked and admitted that it would be difficult to digest this new discovery.
Gábor Vona’s reaction on the next day showed his ambivalence over Szegedi’s Jewish background. After all, Jobbik, whether its politicians admit it or not, is an anti-Semitic party. On the one hand, Vona claimed in an interview given on June 27 that Szegedi’s Jewish origin makes no difference. Jobbik is not a racist party. On the other hand, he added, “the recent events [concerning Szegedi] might give rise to questions within the party.” Whatever that meant.
Meanwhile HVG, which has lately become a leading outlet for investigative journalism, discovered that Szegedi’s enemies within the party learned about the existence of the “incriminating” documents two years ago.
For a while it seemed that Szegedi’s ancestry was not problematic in Jobbik. János Volner, a Jobbik MP, when asked by ATV explained that Jobbik has 13,600 members “and who cares if there are Jews and Gypsies among them.” After all, the Hungarian Guard also had Gypsy and Slovak members “and I find nothing wrong with that.” Volner claimed that Szegedi’s Jewishness was “a topic of conversation within the party for only two days.”
That situation suddenly changed when another Hungarist website published a conversation between Szegedi and a man named Zoltán Ambrus. HVG‘s information was correct. Ambrus had all the documents in hand as early as 2010 and confronted Szegedi with his discoveries. At first Szegedi denied everything, but later he offered money for Ambrus’s silence. Csanád Szegedi as a member of the European Parliament has a slush fund of 21,000 euros a month from which he can hire “assistants.”
That revelation was too much for the heavyweights of Jobbik. Előd Novák, deputy chairman of Jobbik, called on Szegedi to apologize for lying about what he knew and when he knew it. After all, Szegedi originally claimed that he found out about his mother’s Jewish ancestry only in December 2011. According to Novák, it is not Szegedi’s heritage that is problematic but that he lied about it. Novák indicated that if Szegedi doesn’t apologize and resign it is up to the leadership of Jobbik to act.
Szegedi gave a lengthy answer that was not at all convincing. He admitted that the conversation on the tape is genuine but tried to explain away his offer of money for Ambrus’s silence. According to him, the tape was spliced in such a way that two topics separately discussed gave the impression that his offer of money and the accusation about his Jewishness were connected.
Szegedi didn’t wait for the Jobbik leadership’s decision on his fate. Two days after the appearance of Novák’s letter on Facebook he resigned all his functions with the notable exception of his job as Jobbik delegate in the European Parliament. Being an EP MP is a very lucrative job, especially by Hungarian standards. His monthly take-home pay is 6,500 euros in addition to all sorts of fringe benefits like free travel expenses between Budapest and Brussels.
That, of course, is not the end of the story. The party leadership doesn’t want to have Szegedi representing Jobbik in Brussels. Szegedi, however, has no intention of resigning and it is unlikely that Jobbik could force him to do so, especially since on July 30 Szegedi quit the party. As he announced, from here on he will “represent Hungary in the European Union as an independent member of parliament.” Just as MDF was unable to recall Lajos Bokros from the European Parliament, the Jobbik leadership is only wasting its time. Szegedi will stay until the next parliamentary elections in June 2014.
The latest twist in the story involves that slush fund I talked about earlier. It turns out that Csanád Szegedi generously shared part of his slush fund with three men–Előd Novák, Balázs Molnár and Roland Kürk–who according to Tamás Polgár, better known as Tomcat, were members of the editorial board of kuruc.info. Polgár by his own admission was at one time also a member of the same editorial board. Details on these three can be found here.
HVG learned that all three worked for the European Parliament. Roland Kürk received the largest amount: 15,700 euros between June 2010 and December 2011. The salaries of Novák and Molnár were more modest. Novák in five months received 3,500 while Molnár got 3,700 euros. All three received their salaries as “local assistants” to the member of parliament. The rules and regulations are quite lax. Only the MP knows what his assistants are doing or not doing for their salaries. It is unlikely, for instance, that Előd Novák was a “local assistant” of Szegedi in Brussels. He is a member of the Hungarian parliament and deputy chairman of Jobbik.
The idea of Novák receiving money from the European Union is especially delectable. After all, Novák is a Euroskeptic who in January 2012 burned the European Union’s flag at an anti-EU demonstration organized by Jobbik. Although Novák keeps repeating that his salary was not bogus but well earned money for services rendered, the Szegedi affair can easily become a Novák affair, as one of the reporters suggested. In any case, if Tomcat’s information is correct, it is quite something that Csanád Szegedi of Jewish ancestry may have been involved in financing the activities of the alleged editors of the vituperatively anti-Semitic kuruc.info.