Hungarian 'raging antisemite' envoy quits after days on job

By Valentina Jovanovski, July 31, 2014

The man nominated to be Hungary's ambassador to Italy, who has expressed strongly antisemitic views and written for a far-right publication, has left his job under two weeks after the news of his appointment went public.

Péter Szentmihályi Szabó notified the Foreign Ministry that he did not want the position following heavy criticism from opposition parties and Jewish groups.

Szentmihályi Szabó wrote an article for far-right paper Magyar Fórum in 2000 entitled "Agents of Satan". The piece included antisemitic stereotypes and slurs directed at Jews, according to a translation posted on the web by the politics blog Hungarian Spectrum.

Without mentioning the word "Jew", he wrote: "They have no God, no nation, no people, no homeland, no Weltanschauung [world view], only bank accounts."

After the nomination was made public last week, András Heisler, president of Mazsihisz, the leading Hungarian Jewish organisation, told the JC that Szentmihályi Szabó's posting "rankled".

"Many of his former manifestations made him unacceptable to represent a democratic country," said Mr Heisler.

The World Jewish Congress urged Hungary to withdraw the nomination, calling it "clearly an affront to Jews".

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the criticisms of Szentmihályi Szabó "political attacks" and said: "The Hungarian government [has] been very clear about condemning every form of antisemitism."

The US-based blogger Eva Balogh - who voices regular criticism of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban - described Szentmihályi Szabó as a "raging" and "inveterate" antisemite.

Last updated: 4:44pm, July 31 2014