I’m afraid I’m returning with disappointing news about the Hungarian opposition’s feeble efforts to forge a united front against Fidesz. If this attitude continues, Fidesz’s victory is guaranteed come the spring of 2014. Vera Lánczos, a member of the Galamus group, rightly entitled her essay on the anti-racist demonstration organized by DK “The final grade is F.”
However, there is at least something that is crystal clear now: the leadership of Fidesz no longer even tries to hide its racism and anti-Semitism. And that’s good in a way because perhaps the true nature of Fidesz will be more discernible to politicians of democratic countries.
I wrote two articles on the subject of a New Year’s Eve brawl in Szigethalom. In the first one I summarized Attila Ara-Kovács’s excellent article entitled “Roma strategy, from Balog to Bayer.” Hungary’s contribution to the European Union was the so-called Roma strategy. Hungary was supposed to be the torch bearer, but not much has been accomplished since the summer of 2011 when the details of the plan were released. The second article dealt with the very close connection between the government and Zsolt Bayer, the author of a despicable article on “a significant portion” of the Gypsy population who are not fit to live and should somehow be eliminated.
At the end of the second post I indicated that within twenty-four hours the Fidesz strategy for handling the case took a 180° turn. Instead of apologizing and promising to be more vigilant, the editor-in-chief and owner of Magyar Hírlap revised his stance and defended the views of Bayer; he asked the paper’s readers to stand by Bayer, Magyar Hírlap, and their government.
While this was going on, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) fined the Magyar Labdarúgó Szövetség (MLSZ) 35,000 Swiss francs as a result of what happened at the Hungarian-Israeli football game in August 2012. In addition, the Hungarian national team that is scheduled to play against Romania will have to play in an empty stadium in March. MLSZ is appealing the ruling. In addition, MLSZ claims that they learned about the decision only from the website of FIFA, while FIFA claims that they sent the information to Budapest in December 2012.
MLSZ considers the punishment unfair. I assume Viktor Orbán must think the same because, when asked what he thought of the ruling, he announced that it is much better if he says nothing. Right-wing papers call the ruling “madness” and naturally blame “certain Jewish organizations” for the severity of the punishment. Another article that appeared in Magyar Hírlap claimed that the ruling has nothing to do with football. It is a political attack against Hungary. In the past anti-Hungarian slogans weren’t punished by FIFA. Moreover, if it were any other country but Israel FIFA wouldn’t have done a thing. In any case, the Israelis shouldn’t have been allowed into the European League because it was predictable that such incidents would occur time and again.
The rumor is already spreading in right-wing circles in Hungary that the whole incident was a planned provocation. The “fans” who were waving Iranian and Palestinian flags and who turned their backs on the Israeli anthem while yelling at their top of the lungs were “paid extras” hired by Hungary’s enemies, who are traitors.
But, let’s go back to the brawl on New Year’s Eve and Zsolt Bayer and what that has to do with the anti-Semitic behavior on the football field. As it turns out a great deal, because it seems that Fidesz politicians in their effort to defend Zsolt Bayer went a little too far and revealed that they not only agree with Bayer on the Gypsy issue but that they also share Bayer’s anti-Semitism. Or at least they are ready to use anti-Semitic slogans against their political opponents.
How did Viktor Orbán’s party end up in this unenviable position that most likely will result in Fidesz’s being dubbed an openly anti-Semitic party? A young Fidesz politician who was earlier a member of MIÉP became the spokesman of the party on the issue of Roma crime and the Bayer affair. When it became known that DK was organizing a demonstration demanding the expulsion of Bayer from Fidesz, Máté Kocsis, the young Fidesz member of parliament and mayor of District VIII known for his harsh views on the homeless, announced that while Fidesz understands Bayer’s passion Fidesz politicians object to his style. I guess that means that if Bayer said what he said more politely it would have been all right. In Fidesz’s opinion, as translated by Kocsis, the relationship between Fidesz and Bayer is not really the issue. What is important is that a crime was committed. And, Kocsis added, if the opposition organizes a demonstration against “the reaction to a crime and not the crime itself, they unwittingly stand on the side of criminals and murderers.”
Selmeczi Gabriella, the official spokesman of Fidesz, also had a few harsh things to say about the demonstration. The left encourages criminals because, according to the opposition politicians, the guilty party is not the man who kills but the one who is aroused by the crime. She added that “Hungary had enough of the hate campaign of Ron Werber.”
Well, with Ron Werber we arrive at the link between Fidesz’s racism and its anti-Semitism. Ron Werber is an Israeli who was a political adviser to MSZP in the early years of the new century. Ron Werber became famous in the “campaign business” as Israeli Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin’s campaign manager in 1992. Ten years later the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) contracted Werber and won – reversing an originally losing position. After Werber left, MSZP hired American advisers Tal Silberstein and Jeremy Rosner, whom László Kövér referred to as “Rózenkranc és Szilverstein.” So, whether the advisers come from Israel or the United States Fidesz’s emphasis was on their Jewishness, says Zsófia Miháncsik in today’s Galamus.
And this is the sign that awaited the few hundred demonstrators yesterday afternoon in front of Fidesz’s party headquarters: “Don’t take the side of the murderers, don’t listen to Ron Werber!”
So, the opposition takes the side of murderers and MSZP gets its cues from Israel or from American Jews. I think this is pretty clear.
While Fidesz was playing on the anti-Semitic sentiments of a sizable portion of Hungarian society the minister of defense, Csaba Hende, was giving a speech in the Holocaust Center in Budapest. He emphasized that “one must fight against hate and discrimination.” He even admitted that the Hungarian state didn’t defend its citizens in 1944 and 1945. The usual double-talk, but unfortunately Hende seems to be a welcome guest at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.
As for the demonstration. After DK announced that it would hold a demonstration in front of Fidesz headquarters, both MSZP and Gordon Bajnai of E14 immediately announced their decision to join it. In the end, however, the leading lights of MSZP and E14 weren’t present. It was only Solidarity that brought along its activists. The explanations given Sunday night on ATV by András Schiffer, Tibor Szanyi, and Gordon Bajnai were pitiful. I expected nothing from Schiffer, but I’m deeply disappointed in Bajnai. I’m afraid that Péter Juhász’s phantom organization, Milla, is holding him hostage. But I predict that this strategy will backfire. People want unity and hate party squabbles. They have a very bad opinion of parties already, and if they see disunity and petty quarrels they will hate them even more. That doesn’t bode well for active participation in the next elections.
Recent overview in Danish (Google translator does a good job englishing it) by Tamas Gellert, apparently written before the Zsolt Bayer affair. Hungary’s downward slide seems inexorable, and is being driven even more by Fidesz’s (and especially Viktor Orban’s) psychopathic megalomania than by Hungarian culture’s burgeoning visceral bigotry; the former is just capitalizing on the latter. The only hope would be a unified opposition, but Hungarian culture seems so far incapable of mustering even that: The divisive xenophobia — ethnic as well as ideological — seems to be metastasizing at all scales, even within families. (I use the exotic words to hold the ugliness of it all at arm’s length.)
Jano, it is the Hungarian authorities’ job to supervise the behavior of the fans. As soon as the demonstration began the hooligans should have been removed by the police. This is what FIFA demands and what the Hungarian police doesn’t do.
I told you so. http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130115_Fidesz_fordulat_Bayer_ugy
I agree and I do not agree. I think there is not a coincidence that they brought that particular person into the “line of thought”. It is an association and affiliation game. Just like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are not Jews but I bet you anything if you would do a quick flaw-survey on Blaha Lujza ted, asking people what do you think about he heritage of the two names, 80% would say Jewish, maybe 40% would know that is from a play by Shakespeare. We are talking about the average Hungarian citizens here, those who these bozos are targeting. The more educated ones read between the lines. Eva, myself and others did. It is not a single event, it is not a slip of the tongue. It must be put into context of Hungarian politics.
Apparently the Dutch website for Prem Radhakishun’s broadcasts has taken notice of Bayer Zsolt and his supporters unique style for tasteful commentary, most of it in something resembling the English language: http://premtime.ntr.nl/2012/03/15/spreekbuis-fascistoide-regering-basht-prem-hongarije/
Bayer’s comment is the fourth down, and unprintable here, but well worth a read for those who like listening to bullies shouting obscenities in the playground. From his awkward abilities in English it is a good guess he spends a lot of his time trolling around other English language websites leaving comments – we have seen this style before, haven’t we? Bayer comes off not so much a journalist as a party PR troll with a newspaper to play with. And if Bayer was hoping to convince anybody in the Netherlands or anywhere else that he does not represent racist views, well, this selection of responses is one heck of an own-goal!
In fact, FIDESZ seems to have taken the ethos of the internet troll to its heart with the use of the giant banner announcing “Don’t stand by murderers, don’t listen to Ron Werber”… even the FIDESZ friendly Mandiner blog noticed it: “A Fidesz a fine art of trollin’ mestereként egy molinóval egyszerűen legyilkospártolózta a ránézésre főleg nyugalmazott szakszervezeti titkárokból és háztömbbizalmikból álló 300-400 fős társaságot,..” http://mandiner.blog.hu/2013/01/13/megint_tettek_a_rasszizmus_ellen
Maybe you want to post this on a soccer forum. Hungary cannot be responsible for the Romanian or the English soccer fans, but it is responsible for its own. What you are saying here is the exact thing Fidesz does over and over, “but others do it”, “I seen it before”, etc. Most of those BS are taken out of context of course. You can also file a complaint with FIFA on the Romanian behaviour. Did you? I know for a fact that many people and organizations actually went to FIFA about what happened. THat is that. I am glad that something has been done, and I hope it will star the ball rolling for similar problems in other parts of the world.
Ron Werber is a consultant of MSZP. He has nothing to do with DK, who organized the demonstration against Bayer & Co. Did Ron Werber call for the demonstration? No, did Ron Werber say anything about subject matter? No.
So why did they put his name up? How is putting his name up without any logical connection “critizising” him?
Re: Mr A. Habony, Premier Orban’s chief adviser and confidant.
I have read, but not seen any proof of it that his father or grandfather was a high-ranking officer in Horthy’s army or gendarmerie (csendőrség).
Children are not responsible for their father’s deeds, but fathers do influence their children’s thinking.
See, for instance
Does anyone have more info?
Not only FAZ but also our local Schwab newspaper had several very critical articles on Orbán and Fidesz lately (I had a link here to one of them) and of course the liberal/left magazines like SPIEGEL have been constantly reminding us that the Hungarian government is not centrist but very right wing!
Racism that Bayer displays is not liked in Christian Democrat circles either.
If we accept that, then we also have to accept attacks on Bauer Tamás (and a great many other SZDSZ liberals) on the same grounds. I suggest we don’t enter that argument.
I perfectly agree, that was my point too. The dysfunctionality of the police is singular in Hungary and this is just one of the cases.
Just because DK split from MSZP, the public perception still regards them as one and the same. Gyurcsány won in 2006 thanks to the campaign advice from Werber.
As I said, referring to campaign managers is populist and cheap if not pathetic. My point is that I don’t see a direct proof of antisemitism in this. If Ron Werber had the same fame and role in the political history of the past decade but was from South Korea, his name would still have been on the transparent.
Unbelievable… how are people not ejected from the game for stuff like this? I’ve seen people get ejected from baseball parks for far less. Even hockey, which is a much more spirited game would find this unacceptable and would evict offenders without thinking.
OT, looks like Matolcsy at war with those “stupid analysts” that caused the recent HUF free fall. Nope, couldn’t possibly have anything to do with his statement that having a strong forint was a mistake… If I could vote, I’d vote for him just because of all the money I’ve made just by having him open his mouth and putting his foot in it at just the right time. Well, he seems to speak often enough that you don’t need much luck to benefit from his well thought out positions on finance.
We used to live opposite a small pub that would occasionally have parties in the small hours at great volume. No one would ring the police to complain (which is what the police are for, after all) because the police immediately want to know who you are, what your identity card is etc etc. And the fear is that they would saunter into the pub and say “X Y Z opposite have been complaining.” As Jano says, the police are totally dysfunctional.
One of the reasons why political corruption in Hungary is so transparent (I know Eva doubts this but she is wrong) and open is that there is no way that anyone can report in confidence, nor is there a police force that would investigate in earnest.
Happen to be? Check this little article in the Heti Valasz (a pro-Fidesz rag). The itty-bitty detail is mentioned seven (7) times in 4 paragraphs about basically nothing.
Again, I think the Ron Werber message is for their own. Orban decided to deploy the Zs-Bomb.
Lwiih: This time Matolcsy might be right for once. As far as I can see the USD/HUF rate is pretty constant, it seems to me that the Euro is the one getting stronger in which case it is the consequence of the ECB’s actions. I don’t think Matolcsy can surprise the market anymore. At least I hope so…
This is ridiculous. The demonisation of or obsession with Ron Werber is necessary only because he could be a nice scapegoat if Fidesz loses, plusz Fidesz has Kubatov, so “MSZP is also using dirty tricks”. Werber is a pefect person to hate: Jewish, foreigner (American no less) and supports MSZP, I mean “it’s like the communists again, never truly Hungarians, right, always trying to sell out and ‘internationalize’ Hungary”. Nothing changes, f***ing communists, sorry post-communists, but they are the same bunch, right?
Fidesz has similar American advisors, but for whatever reason nobody writes about them.
It is ridiculous even to think that one person (one advisor) can change the outcome of elections and alone can make someone win.
The only advantage he has as an advisor (compared to his colleagues) is that he already has some Hungarian experience, and it is much easier to use him than a completely new guy who has no idea about Hungary.
He is not a genious and not a wizard. He is one of hudreds of advisors working in elections around the world.
In addition, Werber knows exactly that MSZP does not have to express that they are condemning Bayer; MSZP has the necessary credentials. Those who hate Bayer will vote for them anyway (ok some for Bajnai, but certainyl not for Fidesz), and they don’t have to overemphasise the issue when undecided people would want something new on jobs, pensions, health care, education (and not on anti-semitism). People shold knwo that politicians care about big issues like jobs etc. and not about – to the majority – marginal issues like anti-semitism, or anti-roma politicians. It would show that politicians really care about each other (another quasi-politiacn like Bayer), but not about the everyday problems of the voters.
Mutt: The (otherwise pretty low quality) article is on Ron Werber’s actions as a political activist in Israel. You think that the fact that he is from Israel is irrelevant in that context?
Karl Pfeifer I agree with you.
I don’t understand why Orban thinks he has to support this extreme kind of racist ranting in order to gain and keep voters. I’m Hungarian (-born) and I think a bit more highly of Hungarians than that.
They claim they have to support Bayer because the majority of Hungarians hate gypsies and they think finally someone is telling the truth. But do Fidesz really think that saying
“We are shocked and condemn the attacks and we will urge the authorities to deal with the criminals swiftly and strictly. This kind of crime is unacceptable. But we mustn’t generalize, nobody should be called an animal etc – INSTEAD we will devise some policies preventing this sort of attacks etc” –
do they think that saying that would make the average Hungarian disappointed?
I’m not sure about that.
Most Hungarians might hate gypsies (sadly!) but Hungarians usually appreciate it if someone talks sense to them.
Apparently (some sources say) most Fidesz leaders privately condemn Bayer’s behaviour but they stick to the consensus – “the people agree with Bayer, so we will support him.”
I hate the picture this creates of us all. And Karl, you are right – this is exactly the kind of scandal that alerts people in other countries. They might not be able to analyse the monetary council’s decision about forint devaluation and the changes in state bond yields – but news about repeated racist and antisemitic phenomena will have by now created a very gloomy picture of Hungary “as an ally”.
Sorry but this isn’t how one speaks to financial markets. If they want to ease the forint into a new trading zone there is a way to do that. Making statements like is destabilizing and costs people real money. If you’ve just invested in the country you’ve just lost 5% of your investment in the span of a few weeks and with that type of statement you can expect to lose more. Who in their right mind is going to make that kind of bet? Oh, the bond markets will because the ROI is greater than the loss due to currency flux. Oh but humm, now we’re going to freeze the market by taking the exchange risk out of the mix by issuing 4.5 billion euro’s in FX bonds. Lets see how that works!
LwiiH: Oh, I’m truly deeply ashamed had I created the impression that I think Matolcsy did something good 🙂
Exactly. The context …
I beg to disagree. Ron Werber had nothing to do with this sordid racist rant of Bayer. He did not voice any opinion. So I suppose to bring his name up is done in order to appeal to existing prejudices. Orbán’s consultant Ferenc Kumin has a very interesting view how to go about antisemitism. He believes, that a picture of his boss with a kipa on his head and a letter of a Chief rabbi will cover up anything said in Orbán’s orbit.
Which of course shows they have no clue. This Chief Rabbi is a government employee in Israel and has no influence whatsoever in Israel or the Jewish World.
I’ve just read the comments in English on the Dutch blog: http://premtime.ntr.nl/2012/03/15/spreekbuis-fascistoide-regering-basht-prem-hongarije/
Well, how very ‘Peace March’.
A same shame here – and they are supposedly Hungarians!
And I am a Hungarian too, (even after a quarter of a century abroad) but I seriously tempted to reconsider my status and the alternatives…
Otherwise I think that exactly the ‘Peace March’ angle made the Fidesz to take a definitive stance – as the link Petkin provided above, #3, show – losing their ‘Poster Boy’ in need isn’t something what they dare to risk. So, they using the usual communication stunts, blaming just about everything and everybody else, while fiercely trying to explain away, what Bayer really intended to say, in order to “save” the worthy society from those ‘animals’…!
Apart from the question, that just why the ‘animals’ should be dealt with ‘by any means’ – after all, I’m not a Christian Democrat Deputy Prime Minister with undying desire to slaughter animals for pleasure or recreation, – Bayer is not a single loony zealot with some personal agenda to settle, or some untreated condition have gotten out of control, oh, no!
Bayer is still the personal friend of Viktor Orban, still the owner of the “Number Five” party membership card of the Hungarian ruling party, the FIDESZ, not to mention his role in ‘saving’ Orban from the ‘attacks from the West” – his untouchable status is of utmost importance.
If Bayer falls, he will drag the whole ‘Peace March’ charade with him, and that would be a disaster, let’s face it.
However, the worst conclusion to me, that Orban rather will face the condemnation of the civilized world, than risk losing power, by expelling Bayer and sacrifice the ‘Peace March’, disappointing a herd of voters in the act.
A power-greedy piteous soccer fan’s Viktor-y over civilized Human values.
Here we are, folks, Hungary, 2013.
I have my own little Hungarian police story:
Some years ago I was leaning over our balcony wall, trying to see what my kids were up to in the garden, when I noticed cannabis plants growing in pots on the balcony underneath. I mentioned this to our policeman neighbour a few days later (I honestly only mentioned it because I thought it was funny, as the balcony in question is immediately above his – I never thought anyone would be bothered by someone growing a few cannabis plants).
But I was wrong – our neighbour was horrified that this ‘crime’ was occurring just above his ceiling and reported it to his mates at the local police station. He also asked me to take some photos as proof – this I did (with some difficulty!). The next day I was asked to go down to his flat and bring my camera. I did as requested and was surprised to find half a dozen police in our neighbour’s flat. They studied my photos with such seriousness, that I began to think I’d done the wrong thing and was about to get my downstairs neighbour into big trouble.
Some days later, I noticed that the plants were still there and asked our policeman neighbour what was happening. “We decided to do nothing”, was his reply.
Incidentally, I seem to be stuck with ‘nyaripal’ at the moment. It used to give me the option to change it, so I could switch back to ‘Paul’, but it no longer does. Still, at least it’s easier to post as nyaripal – as Paul I nearly always had to login again (twice!) before it would accept my posts.
@nyaripal: haha…. that’s a pretty good story 🙂
@ nyaripal. So you are Paul?
Is it true that you were squealing on your neighbours – because of some cannabis plants?
I can’t believe it! You know, in many countries cannabis is illegal. But some people have MS and just need it, never mind the law. Others just have it for fun. Is it your business?
If your other neighbour is a policeman, he is still the police. This is disgusting – or are you so naive?
Well, Paul, you know, there are other ways to eliminate the competition. Send me a sample and we’ll take it from there.
I did feel bad about it, but I just assumed that growing cannabis plants for your own use in a climate like Hungary’s would be so commonplace as to be unremarkable. Our policeman neighbour is a young guy and seemed pretty laid-back, so I thought he’d enjoy the joke that the guy above him (who had only recently moved in and didn’t know his downstairs neighbour was a cop) was growing pot. How wrong I was!
So here endeth lesson number one in not assuming similarities between cultures that appear much the same!
On a similar note, the way Hungarians dress at home (i.e. often in next to nothing during the summer) and their apparent lack of concern with public bodily exposure (at least compared to the uptight Brits) misled me to assume that they also had a more relaxed attitude towards sex as well (as in the Scandinavian countries). Luckily I never made a similar mistake in this area before I discovered how far I’d misread this!
On my first experience of Hungary, all those years ago, one of my surprises was finding out just how similar the people and the culture was to the UK’s. In the years that have followed, I have gradually discovered the exact opposite. Much as they might look the same on the surface, the cultures of the two countries are miles apart. The more I get to know Hungarians, the more ‘alien’ they seem.
@ nyaripal. Your honesty honours you. Also, not always drawing the wrong conclusions from half-naked women in a Hungarian summer probably spared you some problems.
Unless they are Jewish or Gypsy, the “true” (?) many Magyars are a little different from middle Europeans according to my experience, even in Budapest.
Comments are closed.