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Apr 21, 2017 - Zoltán Kovács

Outrageous: The New York Times compares migrants to the victims of the Holocaust

Right there on the front page of the print edition, no less.

In an article on how an “unwelcoming” Hungary is allegedly detaining migrants, The New York Times correspondent writes that asylum seekers in Hungary may be:

“relocated to the detention camps, evoking ugly and unavoidable echoes of rounding up Jews, Roma and others during World War II.”

That comparison is so wrong and so outright offensive it probably ranks among the most outrageous statements about Hungary that we’ve seen in the media in years.

Where to begin? The people living in the camps built in the transit area along Hungary’s border, which is the southeastern border of the European Union’s Schengen Area, are awaiting a decision on their request for asylum. Needless to say, an altogether different fate awaited the Jews, Roma and others rounded up during the Second World War. We’ve reached a truly low point if I have to explain the difference to The New York Times.

What’s more, you cannot call them “prison camps,” if one is free to leave. The migrants reside in the camps as long as they are awaiting an answer on their asylum request. If they don’t want to stay, they are free to leave, returning the way they came. But, no, they are not free to wander about in Schengen Europe. We tried that and it didn’t work. By the way, recall how international media welcomed news of the Calais “jungle” being razed to the ground and in its place they constructed a container camp (see photo above of one of the camps built by Hungary). Shall I mention the conditions that Hungary’s police and military endure while protecting Europe’s border?

If you need a reason why the migrants don’t have the freedom of movement in Europe, I’ll give you several: Stockholm, Berlin, Brussels and Paris. Is that bigoted? No, tragically, the perpetrators of terrorist attacks have exploited Europe’s porous borders and lax asylum procedures, and they’ll try to do so again.

If you question why we have put two physical barriers on the border of Europe, ask a family member of one of the victims of those attacks.

The claim that these are “prison camps” is one of the most egregious errors being disseminated about the processing centers. But even worse, saying it evokes “ugly and unavoidable echoes” of World War II, is a terrible offense against the memory of Holocaust victims.

Sadly, the Old Gray Lady of American journalism, as the NYT was once endearingly known, has become the sick old woman of mainstream media. Critics slammed The New York Times last year for failing to understand and devote proper coverage to Donald Trump’s candidacy and his support among American voters. The paper became so out of touch that it prompted a sort of mea culpa letter to the readers from the publisher and executive editor, promising to “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you.”

They’ve still got some work to do. Just this week, The New York Times published an op-ed by a figure from Fatah, Marwan Barghouti, presenting him as a Palestinian leader and member of parliament writing from a prison in Israel. The Times incredulously neglected to mention that he is in prison after being convicted on five counts of murder.

Many protested the featured coverage. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the Times’ decision to “print an article by a terrorist without mentioning that he killed Jews in cold blood just because they were Jewish is not freedom of expression but anarchy." The World Jewish Congress noted the omission.

As a spokesperson for an EU government, I cannot get space on the NYT op-ed page, but a terrorist gets a thousand words. The world has turned upside down.

The Times article on “unwelcoming” Hungary never once mentions the border-free European Schengen Area that Hungary defends but complains that Europe has not condemned Prime Minister Orbán for the fence and the tough policy on immigration. That, according to the Times, is because of the shifting wind “against asylum seekers in Europe as nationalist, populist, far-right movements present a potent threat in a year filled with important elections”.

The Orbán Government has said no to open borders, no to unlimited immigration, and no to the human traffickers profiting from this crisis. That makes us, in The New York Times world view, part of a “nationalist, populist, far-right” swell in Europe. If they admitted a mistake in their coverage of last year’s US presidential election, they’ve learned nothing in their coverage of Europe.

The New York Times can write about “prison camps” and “razor-wire fences” in Hungary all it wants, but the sad truth is that Europe’s borders are not secure, terrorist groups are exploiting them, and mass immigration has failed. We’re running a government responsible for the safety and security of our citizens – as well as the citizens of Europe – and we will not apologize for making security a priority.