Prime Minister Viktor Orban strongly denounced growing anti-Semitism in Hungary on Sunday but stopped short of censuring the far-right Jobbik party his audience of world Jewish leaders most wanted him to scold.
Orban told the World Jewish Congress (WJC), which is holding its four-yearly assembly in Hungary to highlight its concern about rising hostility to Jews here and elsewhere in Europe, that anti-Semitism was “unacceptable and intolerable”.
He recounted the steps his conservative government has taken to outlaw hate crimes and preserve the memory of the Holocaust, during which about half a million Hungarian Jews died.
But he did not respond to a call from WJC President Ronald Lauder, who in his opening remarks singled out Jobbik and told Orban “Hungarian Jews need you to take on these dark forces”.
Lauder said, “we see the outrage of anti-Semitism. This is by no means only in Hungary, but also in other places in Europe – in Greece, in Ukraine and elsewhere.”
After Orban’s speech, a WJC statement said: “The prime minister did not confront the true nature of the problem: the threat posed by the anti-Semites in general and by the extreme-right Jobbik party in particular.
“We regret that Mr. Orban did not address any recent anti-Semitic or racist incidents in the country, nor did he provide sufficient reassurance that a clear line has been drawn between his government and the far-right fringe.”
ALSO AGAINST ROMA, EUROPEAN UNION
Jobbik, which also vilifies Hungary’s Roma minority and opposes the European Union and what it sees as other foreign influences, has 43 of the 386 seats in parliament, where Orban’s Fidesz party has more than two-thirds of the seats.