Leaders of a far-right Hungarian party accused Israelis of plotting to buy up the country as several hundred nationalists protested on Saturday on the eve of a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest.
Senior figures from the opposition Jobbik party, the third biggest with 43 seats in the 386-member parliament, harangued the crowd with charges that Israeli President Shimon Peres had praised Jews for buying property in Hungary.
They said the WJC had decided to hold its four-yearly gathering in Budapest to shame the Hungarian people.
Conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is due to address the WJC assembly’s opening session on Sunday evening, had ordered the rally to be banned, but a court on Friday ruled police had overstepped their authority in trying to block it.
The WJC, which normally holds its worldwide assembly in Jerusalem, chose Hungary this time to highlight the rise of far-right groups and anti-Semitism in Europe. More than half a million Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
“The Israeli conquerors, these investors, should look for another country in the world for themselves because Hungary is not for sale,” Jobbik chairman Gabor Vona told the rally near the neo-Gothic parliament along the Danube River.
“Our country has become subjugated to Zionism, it has become a target of colonisation while we, the indigenous people, can play only the role of extras,” Marton Gyongyosi, a Jobbik member of parliament, told the crowd.
The rally ended after almost two hours and the protesters dispersed without incident.
WJC spokesman Michael Thaidigsmann said: “We find it a worrying sign that these people express their anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli ideology in such a public way.”