Feb 12, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

World Jewish Congress “deeply troubled” by “dangerous” alliance between Hungary’s opposition and “extremist Jobbik”

Finally, someone stood up and called them to account. And not just anybody. This is the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, ringing the alarm bell that Hungary’s opposition parties, the left-wing liberals, are considering an alliance with the far-right, anti-Semitic Jobbik.

“I have been deeply troubled by reports in recent months that some opposition party members in Hungary have been willing to entertain the possibility of alliances with the extremist Jobbik party,” said WJC President Lauder in a statement issued on Monday. 

Just a few months ago, prior to Hungary’s general election last April, the same left-wing opposition refused any form of cooperation with the far-right party, saying it was “full of Nazis,” only “now presented in different packaging.” Jobbik’s vice president and parliamentary group leader caused an international scandal when he said that people of Jewish origin, particularly those in the government and members of Parliament, should be put on a list. A leader of one of the opposition alliances, in a recent TV interview, said he’s ok with that (check out the video here).

It’s a problem. Don’t take it from me. Listen to World Jewish Congress leader Lauder: “I recently travelled to Hungary to assess the situation for myself and was dismayed to find that [the allegations] are entirely true.”

“A few short years ago, Jobbik rose to prominence openly utilizing anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic rhetoric and ideology,” said Lauder in his statement. “Party members and leaders have since repeatedly been mired in controversy over their hateful anti-Semitic statements and actions. Despite recent rebranding attempts, Jobbik has not done nearly enough in terms of concrete actions to distance itself from its anti-Semitic roots.” 

“[I]t is dangerous,” said Lauder, “for any Hungarian political party to do business with the extremist Jobbik party or to allow Jobbik into the mainstream of Hungarian politics.”

Now, if only the media would exhibit the same sort of integrity and call these political activists to account.

Once again, here’s my challenge to colleagues in the international media covering Hungary: ask the leaders of these opposition parties whether they are planning to cooperate with an extremist, far-right party in this election campaign and why.