Rise of Europe Far Right Will Be Focus of World Jewish Congress in Hungary

'Anti-Semitism on Rise,' Ronald Lauder Declares

getty images

By Reuters

Published May 02, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The rise of far-right movements and anti-Semitism across Europe, notably in Hungary, where more than half a million Jews were killed in the Nazi Holocaust, will preoccupy Jewish leaders from around the globe when they meet in Budapest on Sunday.

“Clearly, anti-Semitism in Hungary is on the rise, and we have also witnessed a dramatic growth in the number of attacks against other minorities such as the Roma,” World Jewish Congress (WJC) president Ronald Lauder told Reuters by email.

He said the rise of the far-right opposition party Jobbik posed a threat to Jews and other minorities living in Hungary.

“We believe that the Hungarian government should take stronger action to combat hate crimes. It should not just react, but present a long-term strategy how to improve the situation,” Lauder said.

A WJC spokesman said the Congress had chosen Budapest as the venue for its annual meeting partly to show solidarity with the Hungarian Jewish community, but said Hungary was not the only European country where anti-Semitism was on the upswing.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s conservative government, which surged to power in 2010, has repeatedly condemned provocative remarks by Jobbik lawmakers in parliament.

“The government’s policy against anti-Semitism and against hostility towards the Roma is based on the (principle of ) zero tolerance announced by the prime minister,” Ferenc Kumin, a government spokesman, said in a written reply to questions.

In a speech to the WJC, Orban will reiterate his commitment to combat anti-Semitism, his chief of staff said on Monday.

Police have banned a rally which far-right campaigners close to Jobbik had planned to stage against “Bolshevism and Zionism” on Saturday.


Jewish and human rights groups say anti-Semitism remains a significant problem in the central European country.

In November a leader of Jobbik called for lists of prominent Jews to be drawn up to protect national security. He later apologised but did not resign.

The chairman of a Hungarian anti-racism group, Ferenc Orosz - who is also member of the ruling Fidesz party - was attacked by far-right soccer fans at a game on Sunday after he confronted people chanting Nazi slogans.

Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi condemned the attack in a letter as a “shameful and outrageous” act.

Jobbik became the third largest party in parliament in 2010 after vilifying the Roma minority in its campaign platform and attracting voters frustrated by a deepening economic crisis.

The group holds 43 of 386 seats in parliament and has maintained its public support before elections due next year.

“The strengthening of Jobbik is only a symptom … the bigger problem is that around half a million people support the far-right and many people accept the negative attitude to Jews,” Peter Feldmajer, the chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, told Reuters.

Nevertheless, Feldmajer, speaking in his office near Budapest’s largest synagogue, said the capital had a thriving Jewish cultural life.

Despite the worrying rise of anti-Semitism, “it was a very good feeling to be a Jew in Hungary and to live in a Jewish community that can express itself in any ways: culturally, in religious terms … without any limitations,” he said.

Hungary sided with the Nazis in World War Two. The larger of the two wartime Jewish ghettos in Budapest is now a thriving Jewish quarter with synagogues, bars and restaurants. Tens of thousands of tourists from around the world come to Budapest every year to attend the Jewish Summer Festival.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.