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One of Jobbik’s deputies called in November for lists of prominent Jews to be drawn up to protect national security.
At a Jobbik rally on Saturday, he and other deputies charged that Jews were trying to buy up property to take over Hungary and accused Israel of running concentration camps in Gaza.
Addressing the Jewish leaders, Orban said: “We don’t want Hungary to become a country of hate and anti-Semitism and we ask for your help and experience in helping us solve the problem.”
He said Hungary’s answer to increasing anti-Semitism here and elsewhere in Europe “is not to give up our religious and moral roots but to recall and reinforce the example of good Christians” in its laws defending the dignity of all citizens.
While the government has taken steps against anti-Semitism, critics say it does not draw a clear enough line against Jobbik, which competes with it for votes of nationalist Hungarians frustrated by the deepening economic crisis.
Elie Petit, a French Jewish student leader attending the assembly, said Orban “does not fight really anti-Semitism, racism and attacks on minorities. He is not strong enough to alter the actions of the Jobbik party.”
NOT CLEAR ENOUGH
Jobbik is also popular among young Hungarians, especially university students in the liberal arts, sociologist Peter Tibor Nagy told Reuters. “That means it is not just a temporary phenomenon, it will last,” he said.
Formed in 2003, Jobbik gained increasing influence as it gradually radicalised, vilifying Jews and the country’s 700,000 Roma. Hungary has been among European states worst hit by the economic crisis and has struggled to exit recession.
Peter Feldmajer, head of the Hungarian Jewish community, hinted at the government’s ambiguous stand in his speech when he said texts by “Hungarian Nazis are included in the national curriculum and thus polluting the souls of our students”.
Hungary was once a centre of Jewish life in Europe and a quarter of Budapest’s pre-Holocaust population was Jewish.
The country now has about 80,000-100,000 Jews and has seen a modest revival of Jewish life with renovated synagogues and new schools. New restaurants and bars have made the old ghetto area into one of the city’s most popular night spots.