Anti-Semitism and the Opposition: Here’s what’s at stake in this weekend’s by-election.
An alliance of left-liberal opposition parties have jointly nominated a candidate with a deeply disturbing history of anti-Semitism to win this weekend’s ballot.
This Sunday, a by-election will be held in Borsod County following the tragic death of Fidesz MP Ferenc Koncz in July. Koncz's daughter, Zsófia, will be running, challenged by László Bíró from the far-right party of Jobbik. As I have already written, Biró was nominated by the liberal opposition alliance. It seems they could not find a more qualified candidate than this one from the far-right party, a man who has made repeated and blatant anti-Semitic and anti-Roma slurs.
In Hungary, Biró is known as the man who refers to Budapest as “Judapest”. And his offensive writing. “My dog goes crazy when those with the lice-infested 'sideburns' pass by the house,” László Bíró wrote on social media, referring to the Polish, Russian and Israeli Hasidic Jewish tourists who practice a custom of growing sideburns into payot. Blatant, shameless and sick.
Jobbik’s history includes spitting in the Shoes on the Danube Bank Holocaust memorial, suggesting a registry be made for all members of parliament of Jewish descent and openly promoting Nazi ideology on social media.
The opposition’s joint support of this man has even led to left-wing intellectuals and staunch government critics coming out vehemently against him as a joint candidate. Meanwhile, Roma rights activist Jenő Sötét and the president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities have also spoken up. Most recently, we learned that left-wing intellectual János Kőbányai, editor-in-chief of the Jewish cultural magazine Past and Future, had sought to publish an article criticizing the left’s choice to run Biró, but aside from Index.hu, he was refused by all left-wing portals he approached.
Chief Rabbi Tamás Róna and Slomó Köves of the United Hungarian Jewish Congregation categorically condemned the choice of Biró as candidate.
But leaders of Hungary’s left-liberal parties have proudly stood by this man, applauding his “apology” and asserting that he is the right candidate, the only candidate for the job.
The funny thing is, it is Fidesz, Hungary under Orbán, that is continuously accused of harboring and encouraging anti-Semitism, despite the fact that the Jewish community here in Hungary is thriving — something we sadly cannot say is true of many of the countries of our critics.
“Although opposition parties claim that Jobbik has left extremism behind, the case of Mr. Bíró illustrates very well that Jobbik’s extremism has not been rooted out of the party,” wrote Fidesz MEPs József Szájer and Tamás Deutsch to their colleagues in the European Parliament.
On Saturday, Mayor of Budapest Gergely Karácsony plans to campaign alongside Biró who is trailing Koncz in the polls. At the Sunday election, Momentum leader András Fekete-Győr will serve as a vote-counting delegate at the polling stations.
While Brussels has been preoccupied with discussions about the rule of law, they’ve remained silent on this case. The mainstream media outlets – including those that have published stories about the problem of anti-Semitism in Hungary – have ignored the story.