Hungary's far-right: Jews not welcome here

A real, live fascist militia: the Magyar Garda

A real, live fascist militia: the Magyar Garda

The foreign affairs spokesman of Jobbik, the ultra-nationalist party poised to play a leading role in Hungarian politics, has openly questioned the Holocaust and claimed that Jews are colonising the country.

In a shocking interview with the JC, Marton Gyongyosi also said that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians amounted to a "Nazi system".

Based on this assessment, he questioned whether Jews "have the right to talk about what happened during the Second World War".

Terrifyingly for Hungary's 150,000-strong Jewish community, Jobbik, which currently holds 47 parliamentary seats, is set to capitalise on the country's current economic and political woes. Hungary is facing economic meltdown, with unemployment at 10.6 per cent and an IMF bailout increasingly likely.

A senior civil servant in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry warned about the party, also notorious for its homophobia and anti-gypsy stance: "We are very, very worried. The prime minister could easily fail in the coming months, taking the ruling party down with him, and Jobbik is well-placed to become the largest party in Parliament in an election."

In 2007, Jobbik's president, Gabor Vona, founded the Magyar Garda, a now-banned civil defence force which uses the same insignia as the Arrow Cross, the Hungarian fascist movement that helped the Nazis murder many of the country's Jews.

Far from seeking to whitewash his party's reputation ahead of a possible role in government, Mr Gyongyosi, a fluent English speaker, questioned whether 400,000 Jews really were killed or deported from Hungary during the Second World War. "It has become a fantastic business to jiggle around with the numbers," he said.

Despite Hungary's economic problems, Jobbik is against foreign investment and sees Israeli business as a threatening force inside the country.

Referring to a speech made by Shimon Peres in 2007 in which the Israeli President celebrated the success of Israeli businessmen around the world, including Hungary, Mr Gyongyosi said: "Jews are looking to build outside of Israel. There is a kind of expansionism in their behaviour. If Peres is supporting colonisation, it is a natural reaction for people to feel that Jews are not welcome here."

In a court case filed last year in Chicago, a group of Holocaust survivors and descendants of victims are suing the Hungarian state railway company for its role in transporting Jews to Auschwitz. The subject provoked fury in Mr Gyongyosi, who said: "This money-searching is playing with fire in Hungary."

When it was suggested that Hungary should face up to and apologise for its role in the Holocaust, Mr Gyongyosi said: "Me, should I say sorry for this when 70 years later, I am still reminded on the hour, every hour about it? Let's get over it, for Christ's sake. I find this question outrageous."

Meanwhile, Jobbik is actively developing a relationship with Iran. In January last year, Mr Vona took the Iranian ambassador to the Hungarian town of Tiszavasvari, which Mr Vona called "the capital of our movement". And in October, Jobbik hosted a large Iranian delegation to Hungary, at which Mr Vona declared: "For Iran, Hungary is the gate to the West."

Mr Gyongyosi appeared to support Iran in its oft-stated aim to wipe Israel off the map. He said: "I always support the position of a threatened country.

"Iran is in the centre of a Middle East axis that Israel and the US want to subjugate and keep under their control. Iran is an extremely peaceful country and never started a war, unlike Israel which has declared wars on anything and everybody around it."

Israel, says Mr Gyongyosi, was founded by "terrorists" and today runs a "Nazi system, based on racial hatred. Look at Lieberman, he's no different to Goebbels. He is a pure Nazi." And Israel's policies in the West Bank and Gaza, which, according to Mr Gyongyosi, amount to shooting women and children and building an "apartheid wall", mean that "the Jews don't have the right to talk about what happened in the Second World War."

Zoltan Balog, Hungary's Minister of State for Social Inclusion, said: "Jobbik play a dangerous game. They are making use of old paranoia at a time of economic crisis."

Last updated: 3:01pm, February 2 2012