Israel and the international Jewish community want deeds, not words

The controversy over the government’s plans for the Holocaust Memorial Year is not subsiding. It was a week ago that Mazsihisz, the umbrella organization representing about a dozen Jewish groups, said that they will boycott the project as long as the government insists on moving ahead with the current plans. Three issues were in contention. First, they disapproved of the appointment of Sándor Szakály, a right-wing military historian, as head of a new historical institute named Veritas. Second, they wanted to be consulted in connection with a new Holocaust Museum named the House of Fates and expressed some doubts about the suitability of Mária Schmidt as the overseer of the project. Finally, they violently objected to the monument to be erected as a memorial to the German “occupation” of Hungary on March 19, 1944. The monument depicts Hungary as an innocent victim of Germany, as a country that lost its sovereignty and was thus absolutely innocent in the murder of about half a million Hungarian Jews.

For a few hours people who are against the Orbán government’s attempts at falsifying history were ecstatic . They praised Mazsihisz’s courageous new leadership. But the next day the government made public a letter Viktor Orbán had received from Mazsihisz which created a huge storm within the Jewish community. It seems to me that the majority of people who publicly expressed their opinions believed that the top leaders of Mazsihisz had recanted on their earlier stance. Accusations of treachery could be heard.

What were the problems with the letter that made so many people unhappy? One was the style of the letter, which a lot of people found too servile. The repeated “Igen Tisztelt Miniszterelnök Úr” (Very much honored Mr. Prime Minister) was too much for those who think very little of Viktor Orbán. The other objection was the omission of Sándor Szakály’s name from the document. Did this mean that Mazsihisz was abandoning its insistence on the removal of the controversial historian who thinks so highly of the Hungarian gendarmerie, the ones primarily responsible for leading Jewish victims to boxcars to be shipped to Auschwitz? Some leading Jewish activists, like Tamás Suchman, formerly MSZP member of parliament, insisted on the resignation of András Heisler, Péter Tordai, and Gusztáv Zoltai who signed the letter.

I would most likely have been outnumbered with my own opinion that sending a letter, admittedly one less servile than the letter Mazsihisz sent to Orbán, was a good move. I talked about my feelings on the subject once already. The suggestion of establishing a House of Co-existence devoted to the symbiosis of Jewish and non-Jewish cultures in Hungary is a wonderful idea. I interpreted the absence of Szakály’s name in the letter as an indication that his appointment was not subject to negotiation; he had to go. As for the  monument, Mazsihisz asked that its very concept be revised. Their position was strengthened by the support of  the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’s Division of Philosophy and History which declared that the monument gives a false impression of the history of the German “occupation” and Hungary’s position vis-à-vis Germany between March and October 1944.

But this was not the only reason for public outcry. Ilan Mor, Israeli ambassador to Hungary, gave an interview to Heti Válasz, a right-wing weekly, on February 12. In this interview Mor announced that he “has no doubt about the good intentions of the government” and spoke critically of Mazsihisz. Unfortunately, the interview is not yet available in its entirety on the Internet, but Mazsihisz didn’t take too kindly to Mor’s remarks. Gusztáv Zoltai, one of the three who signed the letter to Orbán, responded that “although we think very highly of the Israeli ambassador, we are an independent religious community in Hungary. We have very good relations with the Israeli ambassador but he should not make declarations in our name. It is our job and we disagree with him.” Well, this is clear enough.

To c0mplicate matters, a day after Mor’s interview the Hungarian ambassador was summoned by the Israeli foreign ministry. The topic was rising anti-Semitism in Hungary, but Rafi Schutz, deputy-director-general for Europe, also brought up the Orbán government’s attempt to rehabilitate Miklós Horthy, “who was complicit in the mass deportations of Jews to Nazi death camps in 1944, which resulted in the deaths of around 450,000 Hungarian Jews.” The infamous monument didn’t escape the attention of the Israeli foreign ministry either: “Hungary’s whitewashing of history has included plans to build a massive monument commemorating the 1944 invasion of Hungary by the Nazis, which is seen as an attempt to portray Hungary as a victim rather than an active partner of the Nazis. … The recent trends of historical whitewashing raise concerns in Israel, particularly since Hungary decided to hold a series of events memorializing the Holocaust. While the Jewish state initially supported the decision, it now fears the trends throw such efforts into doubt as further attempts to rewrite history.” Rafi Schutz added that Hungary was chosen to chair the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) starting in March 2015, but doubts are now being raised “about Hungary’s ability to properly preserve the memory of the Holocaust.” Strong language.

Thus the Israeli government stood squarely behind Mazsihisz while Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, believing in the trustworthiness of the Hungarian government, criticized the organization for its stridency. I think Ilan Mor is too charitable to the government.

Yesterday Ronald S. Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, wrote an article that appeared on Népszabadság‘s op/ed page. Lauder is heavily involved in Hungarian affairs on account of his mother, Estee Lauder, who was born and brought up in a Hungarian Jewish household in the United States. Among other things, Lauder established the Lauder Javne School, a Jewish educational institution that houses a kindergarten, an elementary school, a gymnasium, and a conservatory. He was also involved in the project to build a resort complex with an attached casino at Lake Velence in Sukoró which was torpedoed by Viktor Orbán, then still in opposition.

deedsLauder’s article bears the title: “To unify, not to divide.” In it he announced that the decision of Mazsihisz is fully supported by the World Jewish Congress. He expressed his disappointment that instead of remembrance of the victims, the Hungarian government is trying to rewrite history. The year 2014 was an opportunity for Viktor Orbán to confirm his good intentions hitherto only expressed in words by deeds. László Kövér accused Hungarian Jewry of “standing by the left again.” The Holocaust for the Jewish people is not a question of left or right and the government must make sure that it is not.

According to Lauder, it is worrisome that the Hungarian government is sending out contradictory messages: it recognizes the country’s responsibility in the deportation of Jews on the one hand and, on the other, it wants to erect a memorial which is offensive to Jews. The picture that has emerged of Hungary in America, Europe, and Israel is completely negative.

Viktor Orbán remains silent.



  1. tappanch :
    @Mr. Paul
    The EU statistical office is not a police investigation team.
    All data they process are provided by the member governments.

    Cmon Tappanch. You said that there is simple and obvious manipulation like using 2012 data instead of 2013… And EUROSTAT participates. Publishes the data on it’s website. Provides this data to everyone in the world.

    So to sum it up. You discover the statistical manipulation but EUROSTAT cannot because “they are not a police investigation team”. Do you have a “police investigation team” working for you then? Or do you have some insider knowledge? Please tell me because I find it hard to understand how can you outperform EUROSTAT all by yourself.

  2. tappanch :
    Let me copy my December 6 note about agriculture & GDP here.
    “The official GDP growth in the 3rd quarter, y/y was 1.8%. The growth in the agriculture contributed to 1.4% form this. They counted 27.6% growth in agriculture.
    Well, it is true that corn production grew from 4.8 million metric ton in the very bad last year
    to 6.8, but the price has collapsed, went down by 37%, so the total value of the Hungarian corn produce went DOWN from $1.53 billion to $1.37 billion.
    If you add the wheat production, the VALUE of (corn+wheat) is basically unchanged [went up by 2.4%]!
    So the agricultural part of the GDP growth is mainly bogus, so the real GDP growth could not be more than 0.5-0.6%.”

    OK, so Eurostat recieves this data, they see that corn production is up 42% over the last year. 6,8 million tonne instead of 4.8. They see this. This data is obvious and easily recorded. But you tell me, the people at Eurostat are unable to look up the price on the world market for 2013? Or whatever price point they usually use? Even though they use it every year, previously? They are just unable to look it up and instead they completely falsify their data sets? That seems a bit far fetched to me.

  3. @MrPaul: I’m pretty sure they are not combing through the numbers of every table they receive from all the 28 member states. They simply won’t have the manpower to do that.

  4. petofi :
    “However 2014 the situation is different, there is no big European state behind Orbán.”
    Oh yeah? Last I heard, Russia claims to belong to Europe…

    May I change the topic somewhat, please? Somewhere back around comment no. 20 petofi quoted somebody who said that Orbán had no powerful country behind him. He seemed to think that was not true as Russia does qualify as a large and powerful country. Absolutely true! However, this just shows how, even on this pretty well informed and intelligent blog, how easy it is to misunderstand the relationships between politicians and countries, powerful or otherwise.

    Anybody who thinks that Russia stands behind Orbán is sorely mistaken. To stand behind someone means to back them up, to support them financially or otherwise. It also implies, in my estimation, a certain connection of trust, respect etc. Well the Russian bear only stands behind its own interests and supports no one. In fact, I am absolutely certain that Putyin treats Orbán with the deepest contempt, in which he is absolutely correct, just as a strong animal would treat its next breakfast. If Orbán’s flirting with the Russian bear didn’t endanger Hungary’s interests and future, I could sit back and thoroughly enjoy watching the sheer humiliation that Orbán personally could and probably will have to suffer at Putyin’s hands in the future. As things stand, however, we will unfortunately all suffer the consequences.

  5. Dr. L. PETROVICS Ofner, With all due respect I could not disagree with you more.
    There is no compromise in situations like this. What part do you want to compromise with? Orban and his unqualified followers who he put into their positions for their faithfulness to him (not for their country!) can come out and say whatever they want about the past, and then the Jews should be happy because they receive a bone? Are you serious? You are referring to the Olympics? Which one, the 1936? Do you have the flu since then? There is no compromise wit he truth and facts. Do you want to meet them half-way? WHo’s memory are you giving up?
    “Can a country, not just split, but actually splintered, work together toward harmonious mutual interest?” For sure it can! It starts with admitting the mistakes, and continues with not pushing responsibilities asked, goes on with not feeding our own words into someone else’s mouth to please all. There are no two truth to this story, only one. Here is compromise for you: let’s lobby to put the Horthy statue in the garden of the House of Faith. How about having Vona run the project instead of Schmidt? They already had a meeting in a synagogue. In this way all spectrum of Hungary would be together.

  6. @J Grant: Well, Orban may think that he has the backing of Russia, and that may be enough for him to feel more secure in his dealings with the West… of course, Putin will only use him, and will eat him alive. As you noted, the country will suffer the consequences.

  7. Let me summarize the first 3 days of the election campaign.

    The only television station, ATV that intended to broadcast the campaign debut of the democratic opposition suddenly had technical difficulties at the live broadcast two days ago.
    The opposition is not provided with the right signature sheets by the state bodies to start the door-to-door campaign today.
    The only opposition radio station is having technical difficulties in its main news broadcast today.

    Am I paranoid to think that this is a concerted gov’t plot or what?

  8. An :
    @MrPaul: I’m pretty sure they are not combing through the numbers of every table they receive from all the 28 member states. They simply won’t have the manpower to do that.

    And frankly nobody cares about the accuracy of your numbers unless you want a loan. That why the Fidesz got rid of the IMF.

    It’s totally futile to fight Orban on the GDP numbers. Average Joe’s in Hungary don’t understand a word about manipulations with corn prices.

    We should introduce another index. The GDP divided by the length of Christmas kitchen soup lines. Or GDP growth / PM personal wealth growth.

    Or GDP divided by the number of times prime minister licks his mouth during a “state of the union” speech …

  9. @Mr. Paul
    Klubradio went off the air, then came back on FM.
    It is still not available on the internet browser at this instance

  10. Mr. Paul :

    Mutt :

    Mr. Paul :

    tappanch :
    Klubradio went off air simultaneously on FM and internet 5 minutes ago.

    Just checked, not true.

    Hmmm .. my stream stopped.

    It stopped for me too about 2 minutes ago.

    Before that it was working for about 15 minutes. I started listening shortly after tappanch’s comment to see what was going on. Now its just dead air

  11. A question for Mr. Paul, whose team seems to know most everything:

    I was watching Orban’s speech and the camera panned repeatedly over the crowd. Now, the question is this: why did all the members of the crowd look like they couldn’t wait to be back in their tobacco shops?

  12. “On 17 February, the statistical office of the European Union, announced that over the last two decades, gross inland energy consumption in the EU28, which stood at 1,670 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 1990, rose to a peak of 1,830 Mtoe in 2006 and then decreased to 1,680 Mtoe in 2012.”

    Oops. Energy consumption of the EU is back at 1990 level.

    “Between 2006 and 2012, energy consumption fell in twenty four Member States and increased only in Estonia (11.6 per cent), the Netherlands (+2.9 per cent), Poland (+0.8 per cent) and Sweden (+0.4 per cent). The largest relative falls were recorded in Lithuania (-17.0 per cent), Portugal (-15.2 per cent), Greece (-14.4 per cent) and Hungary (-14.2 per cent). ”

  13. I am trying to figure out what Orban plans for Hungary.

    Europe probably will not need the extra power from Paks 2,
    so Hungary has to house new, energy-gobbling industries.

    will it be
    aluminum production? – there is bauxite in Hungary, so will Hungary’s “Turul” Industries compete with Boeing and the European EADS?

    iron & steel? – Rakosi already used up this joke. Will Hungarian tanks be rolling into Transylvania?

    petroleum refineries? – oh, boy

    paper products? – I cannot discern jungles around Hungary…

  14. Mr. Paul :

    tappanch :
    Klubradio went off air simultaneously on FM and internet 5 minutes ago.

    Just checked, not true.

    You shouldn’;t try to make Tappanch sound like a liar. Klubrádio did go off the air but eventually they managed to fix the problem. He wasn’t lying. It is so typical of the right to label people liars. Often even when others simply express an opinion.

  15. I just found the solution. There must be a new, Szeles-secret way of transporting energy without loss to China. Let us call it “Hun-Chin port”.

    Now Paks 2 makes sense, thank you.

  16. Eva S. Balogh :
    So, Tappanch wasn’t lying after all!

    No he wasn’t and nobody said he was. To be honest, the worst I assumed of tappanch was that his radio has bad reception or that he is still trying to listen at 95.3. But since Klubrádió is now working perfectly I think we can note down that the forces of darkness, (the evil conspiracy working from the shadows) once again lost a battle. And so it was earlier too. When ATV repeated the Gyurcsany speech once more, and also put it up on its website for all good people to see.

  17. OT. Someone just sent this to me about Matolcsy’s way of fixing the economy. I just could not resist posting it even though it is from 2012. (In Hungarian) It is still timely:

  18. Mr. Paul :

    Eva S. Balogh :
    So, Tappanch wasn’t lying after all!

    … I think we can note down that the forces of darkness, (the evil conspiracy working from the shadows) once again lost a battle.

    Ummm. Who said it was a conspiracy?

  19. @Mr. Paul:

    May I remind you of your own comment No 11:

    “Just checked, not true.”

    What did you mean by that?


    My wife tried again to watch North Korean State TV news on M1 – gave up after a few minutes:

    “They’re just throwing mud at everybody outside Fidesz” was her comment …

  20. I meant that I could hear Klubradio at that moment (all comments are time stamped). “Just checked” was already making it clear that I “just checked” the broadcast and I was not listening to it before that time. Therefore I could not possibly have any idea if there was broadcast problems 15 mins earlier when Tappanch wrote his comment. I thought this was perfectly obvious.

  21. How intersting dear Mutt, that you several times told me to have a thick skin. And now you have such thin skin that you manage to get hurt from a comment that wasn’t even said to you. Have thicker skin, than that.

    I also call your attention to my comment # 14. In which I said the broadcast stopped for me too. This was BEFORE all the complaining started. So I already agreed with tappanch before you got so so so worried. And drawn us into this discussion. I bet the next complaint will be about off topic and how the discussion is side tracked away from important issues.

  22. By the way while I don’t believe in any shadowy cabal / conspiracy theories / secret plans for world domination / crazy nutjob theories that are getting ever more popular these days:

    I do believe that anyone who was responsible for the bad signature sheets to Unity should be fired immediately. Even if it just delayed them a few hours and they will easily gain 500 signatures per district it is still unacceptable.

  23. Those with ears to the ground would confirm that reality has dawned upon most if not all of the sentient Fidesz voters from 2010.

    The question is whether the opposition can provide an “offramp” – which is harder than it sounds, as Fidesz in 2010 were offering something to ‘everyone’ – a bit of welfarism, a fair old chunk of nationalism, a helping of religion, a dollop of nationalisation, etc.

    Harder for a united opposition to capture these, despite the electoral/mathematic imperative.

    Mutt :

    An :
    @MrPaul: I’m pretty sure they are not combing through the numbers of every table they receive from all the 28 member states. They simply won’t have the manpower to do that.

    And frankly nobody cares about the accuracy of your numbers unless you want a loan. That why the Fidesz got rid of the IMF.
    It’s totally futile to fight Orban on the GDP numbers. Average Joe’s in Hungary don’t understand a word about manipulations with corn prices.
    We should introduce another index. The GDP divided by the length of Christmas kitchen soup lines. Or GDP growth / PM personal wealth growth.
    Or GDP divided by the number of times prime minister licks his mouth during a “state of the union” speech …

  24. Mr. Paul!!
    MR. P-P-P-PAUL!!

    Tell us this: Mr. Gyurcsany was on Clubradio today and presto! troubles began 5 minutes after he started and lasted for an hour. Coincidence? One of those ‘natural’ breakdowns
    you speak of? Pray tell, Mr. Orac…I mean, Mr. Paul: Explain it to us again, will ya…

  25. tappanch :
    @Mr. Paul
    It was not the united opposition that made the mistake, but the “employees of the local election bureaux”, they have to take the rap.

    I was fully aware that it wasn’t the fault of Unity. After all the issue was discussed in detail right here, on this blog.

  26. @Marcel:

    Here’s what I wrote regarding the EPP position on Fidesz on today:

    Of course Daul wants the EPP to stay no 1 in the EP – there is a real risk that the right wingers (UKIP etc) will “steal” a lot of votes from EPP.
    And since it is a proportional system in each country (unlike in Hungary …) EPP fears that they might lose a lot of seats …

    That’s party politics in the EU -the devil you know …

  27. Mr. Paul :
    How intersting dear Mutt, that you several times told me to have a thick skin. And now you have such thin skin that you manage to get hurt from a comment that wasn’t even said to you./p>

    Man, you are such an easy target …

  28. Joseph Daul was elected as the new EPP President on November 12, 2013.

    Daul’s main goal is that the his party, the EPP win the post of Commission president after the May 2014 European election.

    “The centre-left Party of European Socialists has already elected Martin Schulz, current president of the European Parliament, as their candidate for Commission president.”

    6-7 Mar. 2014: EPP congress in Dublin, designating the party’s EC president candidate.

    22-25 May 2014: European Parliament elections in 28 member states

  29. Just too many seemingly unrelated unlucky coincidences to my taste – and it’s only monday, the first day of the formal campaign-period.
    Must be some voodoo, or just “the eye” got me..?
    Else: the boys start to saddle up, following the orders of the Fearless Leader?

    At any event, interesting few weeks to look forward to.

    I’d seriously considering to pull out if I was to participate, let those lowlifes standing alone and playing with themselves, and watch as they explain their legitimacy to the rest of the world afterward, with 100% majority.
    I see no reason to assist in any way to such dirtbags as Orbán&Co.

  30. @tappanch: I’m certainly not proud of my compatriot, but wait until the Front National succeeds in forming a group with the Dutch PVV and the Italian Llega Nord (hope it doesn’t happen)…

    @wolfi: the Tories are already out of the EPP. A reduced group might end up being heavily dominated by the CDU/CSU – with the Labour Party number one in the S&D.

    Funny thing is, a ‘grand coalition’ (S&D / ALDE / EPP) may be necessary to elect the EC, Council and Parliament chairs. This could be hard to swallow for Fidesz. Nevertheless, I think OV likes being in the ‘governing parties’ club’ too much to risk going away.

    Moreover, since we can reasonably expect a push of (mostly right-wing) populist parties, and most of these guys really like OV, I’m afraid he will be in a very comfortable situation in Strasbourg for the next five years. Damn.

  31. Rabbi Baruch Oberlander of Chabad Hungary in the hareidi newspaper HaMevaser:

    “The new mayor, Ms. Tatani, an independent candidate who identifies with the Socialist Left party, decided not to send [Jobbik] to another center for the rally, and basically forced them to hold the rally specifically in that synagogue.”

    “We, on behalf of the hareidi communities of Budapest, turned to the mayor via a letter, asking that the rally be stopped from being held in the synagogue, and would even provide a replacement if need be – but she intentionally ignored it,” he accused.

    “Regrettably, it is obvious that the Socialist Left party has decided that it’s worth it for them to cynically use Jews and the topic of anti-Semitism in the hopes that it will bring them victory in the upcoming elections. Unfortunately, many Jews and Jewish leaders participate in the elections, and the Socialists take advantage.”

    The Rabbi cited the fact that Jobbik, apparently, was even willing to move the rally’s location. “We feel that it was a provocation on the mayor’s part [against the Jews], as even the Jobbik party itself offered to move the site for the rally [. . .] the mayor preferred that the rally be held n the former synagogue for political reasons, and this was not done.”

Comments are closed.