Amidst false accusations of governmental anti-Semitism in Hungary, US Ambassador “reflects” on freedom with reputed anti-Semite at Passover dinner

Sometimes you can’t even make this stuff up.

Yesterday, the US ambassador to Hungary hosted a Passover Seder in Budapest. The embassy invited a number of guests from “different perspectives” to “reflect” on freedom. Among them was Márton Gyöngyösi, president of the far-right Jobbik, a man notorious for having proposed to draw up a list of Jews who pose a national security risk to Hungary and for being banned from Ukraine for serving as an election observer in the break-away regions.

The ambassador later tweeted photos writing that they had “a fascinating Passover Seder bringing together Hungarians from different perspectives, disciplines, and backgrounds to reflect on the meaning of freedom.” Different perspectives, indeed.

Pictured seated next to Ambassador Pressman, Márton Gyöngyösi, a member of the European Parliament and former member of the Hungarian Parliament, has a history of making unacceptable remarks.

While speaking in the Hungarian National Assembly, Gyöngyösi proposed that there be a list of "the number of people of Jewish origin living here, and in particular in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who pose a certain national security risk to Hungary."

Unfortunately, there’s more.

In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, questioned whether 400,000 Jews really were killed or deported from Hungary during the Second World War. "It has become a fantastic business to jiggle around with the numbers," he said.

Asked whether Hungary should face up to and apologise for its role in the Holocaust, here’s Gyöngyösi’s different perspective: "Me, should I say sorry for this when 70 years later, I am still reminded on the hour, every hour about it? Let's get over it, for Christ's sake. I find this question outrageous."

The far-right Jobbik has been around for a while and is notorious for these views – see here, here and here – and toward other minorities as well. Jobbik’s former leader Gábor Vona founded the now-banned Hungarian Guard, a racist militant social movement that held marches to incite fear among the Hungarian Roma population.

During the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Gyöngyösi announced that he was in the occupied territory of Luhansk as an “independent” observer to ensure the safe and legal conduct of the referendum, earning him a permanent ban from Ukraine by its government.

One of his peers, Béla Kovács – aka KGBéla – took a similar trip to Crimea but was later outed as a Russian spy in 2017, with several other members of Jobbik accused of having ties to Russia.

And there he is, Márton Gyöngyösi, president of Jobbik, as an honored guest at a Passover Seder hosted by the US ambassador.

Perhaps the ambassador did not know. Perhaps he did and invited him anyway. I’m not sure which is worse, but it’s deeply disturbing. I have no idea how Gyöngyösi reflects on freedom, but I’m sure he has a different perspective.