On the morning of March 19, as a controversy grew over senior presidential aide Sebastian Gorka, an unidentified individual amended the Wikipedia page of a previously obscure far-right Hungarian organization called the Vitézi Rend, or Order of Vitéz.
While Gorka patron Steve Bannon is well known, Thomas Saunders III is a lesser-known figure to the general public. But Saunders, a private equity fund manager has been is a major donor to the Republican Party, chairman of the conservative Heritage Foundation and related to Gorka’s wife, Katharine Cornell Gorka.
An investigation by the Forward into the activities of Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, from 2002 to 2007, while he was active in Hungarian politics and journalism, found that he had close ties then to Hungarian far-right circles, and has in the past worked with openly racist and anti-Semitic groups and public figures.
Gábor Vona, who heads Hungary’s far-right party, Jobbik, famously showed up on his first day as a member of Parliament in 2010 wearing the uniform of a banned racist and an anti-Semitic paramilitary group. But sitting in his office overlooking the partially frozen Danube River, Vona was dressed in a simple gray suit for his first-ever interview with a Jewish publication.
Gábor Vona, the leader of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party, for the first time ever, sent a letter in December to Hungarian Jews conveying greetings to “you and your faith community with respect on the occasion of Hanukkah.” The letter, from the head of a party with a long history of anti-Semitism, has set off a firestorm within the Hungarian Jewish community.
For many European Jews, Trump’s victory is a signal that Europe’s struggle with ethno-nationalist populism is spreading to America, the land most of them viewed as the world’s redoubt against this tide.
As Hungary grapples with the impact of an unprecedented refugee crisis — and the government’s own vitriolic anti-refugee campaign — young Budapest Jews have come to the forefront of the fight for refugees’ rights.