Hungary Jewish Leader Gusztav Zoltai Quits

Community Cites Protest Over Governement Holocaust Plans

By JTA

Published April 10, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Gusztav Zoltai, the director of Hungary’s federation of Jewish communities, or Mazsihisz, resigned in what community leaders said was a protest against the government over Holocaust commemorations.

But Szombat, the Hungarian Jewish newspaper, published an article on Wednesday alleging that Zoltai quit because of financial irregularities connected with Budapest’s main Jewish cemetery on Kozma Street and other affairs.

Zoltai, who is in his 70s, has served as Mazsihisz’s director since the early 1990s. Mazsihisz has accused the government of promoting plans that whitewash Hungarian Holocaust-era complicity.

Zoltai “and all Holocaust survivors are frustrated by what is happening in public life,” Mazsihisz President Andras Heisler said in an interview Wednesday for the ATV news station.

In the interview Heisler — a reform-minded leader who took the helm last year following a no-confidence vote that ended his predecessor’s term — denied the claims about Zoltai in the Szombat article. But a source who is familiar with internal processes within Mazsihisz told JTA on condition of anonymity that ascribing Zoltai’s resignation to the commemoration issues was designed to allow Zoltai a dignified way out.

The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban is planning to commemorate the invasion of Germany into Hungary 70 years ago by unveiling a statue of an angel being attacked by an eagle – imagery that Mazsihisz and other critics said whitewashed the complicity of Hungary’s pro-Nazi government in the murder of approximately 586,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

The government ignored Mazsihisz protests on this and similar issues, prompting the group to pull out of government-led commemorations of the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation.

Earlier this week, government employees began constructing the contested monument, which is scheduled to be unveiled next month.


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!
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • 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.