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The Jewish background of a far-right leader

June 30th, 2012

Left-wing commentators poke fun at Jobbik MEP Csanád Szegedi who has turned out to have Jewish ancestry. Far right bloggers urge him to withdraw from politics. Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona says the case proves that his party is not racist.

Mr Szegedi won the presidency of his party’s Borsod County branch in June in a fiercely fought campaign.  His rivals for the post circulated documents proving his Jewish origins. He told Barikád, a radical right-wing magazine affiliated to Jobbik, that he has still not managed to digest the news, but after all it is one’s deeds, not birth that determines who one is. Readers opening his webpage is search of his earlier writings about Jews are automatically redirected to his Facebook- page.

“This is a very benign development, as it confutes the anti-Semitic stereotype according to which Jews are all liberal philosophers and bankers,” Árpád W. Tóta comments sarcastically in HVG.

In the same liberal weekly historian Krisztián Ungváry writes ironically about Szegedi’s claim that he didn’t know about his Jewish origins. After all, he argues, the fact that Szegedi’s grandmother spent time in Auschwitz and had a number tattooed on her forearm, did not prove anything. “Jews were not the only ones taken to Auschwitz. There were Gypsies among the inmates as well.”

The case reminds Júlia Lévai on Galamus of an old joke about a madman being released from a mental asylum, because he no longer believes he is a mouse. He thanks the doctor for curing him, and asks: “But does the cat also know I am not a mouse?”

Readers of the extreme right-wing website Kuruc.info conduct a furious debate about the case and hundreds of comments urge Szegedi to leave the political scene because of his Jewish background.

On MTV Public Television Party Chairman Gábor Vona said Szegedi’s story shows that Jobbik does not judge its people according to their origins but according to “what they have contributed to the table of the nation.”

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