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Anti-Semitic blood libel in Parliament

April 9th, 2012

A centrist analyst wonders what reasons a radical right-wing representative may have had when he addressed the House to request the commemoration of a young girl who disappeared from her village in 1882, and who, according to the old anti-Semitic narrative, was murdered by local Jews.

Why did Zsolt Baráth, a Jobbik MP bring up the 19th century blood libel case in Parliament? How does this anti-Semitic topic fit into Jobbik’s political message? Why did he consider it prudent?, political analyst Ferenc Kumin asks in his blog.

On Wednesday, the Jobbik MP asked Parliament to commemorate Eszter Solymosi, a peasant girl, who died in 1882. The trial of the alleged Jewish murderers became a typical blood libel case. Although the court cleared them of all the accusations, the case is brought up from time to time by anti-Semitic groups in Hungary. In his speech Baráth claimed that the the court acted under the pressure of “circles who still have the economy of Hungary and the whole world in their hands.” His anti-Semitic speech was condemned by all parliamentary parties except his own, and several deputies also demanded Baráth’s resignation. Even Krisztina Morvai, one of the three Jobbik MEPs said she would not have used such rhetoric.

Kumin admits he was surprised by Baráth’s speech, since Jobbik has been trying to portray itself as a sensible political force. He admits however that in this case he cannot find any political rationality behind the scandalous event. It is not known whether speeches by Jobbik MPs have to be approved by the leadership of their parliamentary group in advance. They should be. But since MEP Krisztina Morvai distanced herself from “that language” on the following day, the issue may not have been discussed beforehand. On the other hand, the text of the speech has still not been removed from the Jobbik party homepage.

Kumin concludes that the incident can be considered as a test of how far a Jobbik MP can go in his or her public speeches. And if Ms Morvai had to dissociate herself from the speaker, then Baráth obviously went too far.

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