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Whitewashing Orbán

Earlier this year Christopher Caldwell of the mainstream conservative Weekly Standard visited Hungary and interviewed the country’s rightwing prime minister Viktor Orbán. The result was a mostly favorable and flattering portrayal of Orbán as a Man of the People standing against the leftwing intellectual elites.

Caldwell appeared willing to believe Orbán’s insistence that his ruling Fidesz party has nothing in common with the far-right Jobbik party and other antisemitic elements in Hungary.

But as we’ve posted here a number of times, there are indeed connections between Orbán, Fidesz and the extreme right– and many instances of Orbán tolerating the antisemitic speech and writings of some of his supporters. In addition Orbán and his government are helping to whitewash Hungary’s shameful role in the Holocaust.

The Jewish Tribune of Canada reports:

Dr. András B. Göllner, founder and international spokesperson for the [Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter] and an emeritus associate professor of political science at Concordia University, said he and his colleagues believe it is important to speak up in light of what occurred on Nov. 26 in the Hungarian parliament. At that time Márton Gyöngyösi, the co-chair of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, rose and asked the right-wing government of Orbán to compile a list of those members of the government and of parliament who are of Jewish ancestry.

“In the view of this prominent Hungarian parliamentarian, the presence of Jews in parliament and the government pose a threat to Hungary’s national security,” Göllner explained. “The last time such blatantly racist statements were heard in Hungary’s parliament was during the darkest days of the Holocaust, during the Regency of Admiral Nicholas Horthy, when some 500,000 Jews were rounded up by the country’s police forces, stripped of all their earthly possessions, crammed into railway carriages used for the transport of animals, and shipped off to be slaughtered in Auschwitz.”

Thousands of people rallied against antisemitism in Budapest soon after the comments, prompting Orban to finally speak out. “Last week sentences were uttered in parliament which are unworthy of Hungary,” Orbán told parliament. “I rejected this call on behalf of the government and I would like you to know that as long as I am standing in this place, no one in Hungary can be hurt or discriminated against because of their faith, conviction or ancestry.”

As far as Göllner is concerned, Orbán still surrounds himself with the likes of party members András Bencsik and Zsolt Bayer whose antisemitic outbursts have been well documented.

Göllner has co-signed a statement with five others: Dr. Christopher Adam from Carleton University in Ottawa; Dr. Éva Balogh, the retired Dean of Morse College at Yale University; Dr. Stevan Harnad from the Univerité du Quebec á Montreal; Professor. Peter W. Klein from the University of British Columbia and Dr. Imre Szeman from the University of Alberta.

In it they point out that the United States Anti-Defamation League’s 2012 study has shown, antisemitic rhetoric in Hungary’s mass media and in public discourse increased dramatically after Orbán came to power in 2010.

Göllner told the Jewish Tribune that his group has not been very successful at getting any Canadian governmental response.

(Hat tip: Karl Pfeifer)