Hungarian far right leader challenged to Jewish debate

By Benjamin Lazarus, July 5, 2012
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Several days after his colleague admitted having Jewish heritage, the leader of Hungarian's far right nationalist party, Jobbik, has challenged a Jewish community leader to a public debate.

(Csanad Szegedi, a member of the European parliament and regional leader of Jobbik, said he had learned "not long ago that I had parents of Jewish origins." In fact, Mr Szegedi, who has repeatedly used antisemitic rhetoric, is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, Magoldna Klein.

Jobbik's leader, Gabor Vona, wishes to prove his party is not antisemitic, and by debating publicly with a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi, Slomo Koves, he believes this will result in his party shedding such a tag.

Mr Koves has spoken recently of the need for dialogue between the Hungarian populace and Jewish organisations, in order to combat antisemitism.

According to Mr Vona, Jobbik is simply "pro-Hungarian", and has "never had and will never have any programme point, proposal or idea which discriminates between Hungary's inhabitants on the grounds of ethnicity and religion".

Despite these claims, according to a 2009 Ha'aretz article, the Jobbik candidate for the European Union, Judit Szima, wrote in a newsletter that "antisemitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews".

Furthermore, as the JC has previously reported – Jobbik's foreign affairs spokesman has openly questioned the Holocaust, and claimed Hungary was being colonised by Jews. He has also claimed that because of Israel's "Nazi" policies towards the Palestinians, they therefore have "no right to talk about what happened during the Second World War".

Jobbik has also actively sought to develop a relationship with Iran, and in January 2011, Mr Vona showed the Iranian ambassador to Hungary around Tiszavasvari, describing it as the " capital " of Jobbik's movement.

Whether Rabbi Koves is likely to accept the challenge is not known, but one thing is certain; whatever the outcome, it is unlikely to make Hungary's 150,000 strong Jewish community feel particularly safe.

    Last updated: 12:02pm, July 6 2012