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Feb 19, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

The Left and the far-right want to convince the world that Jobbik is now ‘kosher,’ but they’ve got a serious problem

Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any worse. Hungary’s far-right, extremist party, Jobbik, decided in December 2018 to dismiss one of its vice presidents because of his anti-Semitic statements and replaced him with another who backed the idea of drawing up a list of Jews.

It’s yet another awful detail in the story that the international, mainstream media continues to ignore. It’s about the Hungarian Left and, specifically, the deeply disturbing alliance they are forging with far-right, extremist Jobbik in the campaign for the European Parliamentary elections in May. 

In December, Jobbik dumped a vice president by the name of István Szávay because he bragged about beating a Jewish woman. That in itself should give us all serious pause. But then to take his place as vice president, Jobbik named János Bencsik, who is on record defending Márton Gyöngyösi’s demand that Hungary should draw up a list of people of Jewish origin, especially in the Hungarian government and parliament, who pose a national security risk (you can watch the video here).

That statement by Gyöngyösi caused international scandal and rightly so. But Bencsik rushed to his defense in several articles advocating the listing of Jews. Writing for the far-right Barikád, Bencsik collected a list of Israeli-American dual citizens who, he claimed, had sinisterly played the United States into the hands of “Israel agents”.

The "unconditional commitment of the United States to the Jewish state is well known," he wrote, and it’s not a coincidence. To support his point, he went on to list the politicians and advisers "who are American-Israeli dual citizens and have a decisive role in making the United States the world's front-line fighter of Israel's interests".

Today, Bencsik is a vice president of Jobbik’s national organization. He is also the president of the party at the municipal level in Budapest. To be clear, this means that if the Hungarian Left strikes a deal with Jobbik for the autumn municipal elections, then they will have to negotiate and find a common ground with Bencsik.

Last week, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said that he was “deeply troubled” by the “dangerous” alliance between Hungary’s Left and “extremist Jobbik.”

“Jobbik has not done nearly enough in terms of concrete actions to distance itself from its anti-Semitic roots,” Lauder said in his statement.

Sadly, the WJC president has good reason to be deeply troubled. Others should be raising their voices, like Lauder, and calling the Left and Jobbik to account.