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Jewish magazine criticises liberals for opposing Rogán’s presence at anti-racist rally

December 3rd, 2012

Szombat (Sabbat) magazine welcomes the presence of Fidesz floor leader Antal Rogán at the demonstration organised in the wake of another anti-Semitic Speech by a far-right MP. (See BudaPost, November 28, 29, and December 1.) The Jewish magazine deplores the fact that some left-liberal authors oppose Mr Rogán’s presence.In his Szombat editorial, the founding editor-in-chief Gábor T. Szántó interprets the misgivings of many “Jewish and left-wing people” about the presence of Mr Antal Rogán among the speakers on Sunday in front of the Parliament building as a sign that “normality” is in short supply in Hungary. Normality, he explains would require co-operation across party boundaries, against right-wing extremism.

Among the “abnormal” phenomena, he refers to an editorial on Millamedia, which started out as the internet opinion site linked to the One Million for Press Freedom movement, but represents at present only the opinions of the editors, namely András B. Vágvölgyi, who was the campaign director of the liberal SZDSZ party ten years ago. He promises his readers that he will change the name of the site shortly. Milla leader Péter Juhász who has now joined an electoral alliance with former PM Gordon Bajnai, welcomed the idea that Mr Rogán should address the rally.

The editorial about Mr Rogán on : it has two types of “clowns” at its service – one to condemn anti-Semitism, and another to soothe anti-Semitic voters. The author also finds Magyar Nemzet guilty of hypocrisy in its condemnation of the latest anti-Semitic incident (See BudaPost, November 29) and accuses the pro-government daily of trying to whitewash itself when arguing against the latest anti-Semitic speech by a Jobbik MP. He recalls Magyar Nemzet’s frequent diatribes against “banking circles, hostile financial powers” and the like, claiming that those represent examples of coded anti-Semitic language. “Political speech and journalism on the Right is all (if not always) about what anti-Semites may interpret as encouragement, Millamedia contends, before ending its editorial on a harsh note: “Rather than addressing an anti-Nazi rally, Antal Rogán should keep his mouth shut.”

Magyar Nemzet, meanwhile, has published another article condemning radical right-wing anti-Semitism. Historian Tamás Stark dismisses Jobbik’s denial that it is an anti-Semitic party as a happy symptom of anti-Semitism being considered unacceptable, even according to the party’s leaders. But he quotes examples proving that “they are the ones who introduced open anti-Semitic discourse in Parliament.” Stark believes that Jobbik is heading in a direction which is diametrically opposed to the one Hungarian statesmen have striven for over the past several centuries – to reunite Hungary with the rest of Europe. Jobbik’s loud anti-Americanism, its anti-Europeanism and its openly friendly attitude towards Asian autocracies are at odds with the Hungarian traditions of Christianity and liberty, he warns. “Their ceaseless anti-Semitic discourse is also in stark contrast with a Christian world outlook and Hungarian tradition.”

In Szombat, the editor in chief also quotes an example of what he calls “normality” from Millamédia. In an OpEd contribution deploring the position of the editorial on Sunday’s anti-Nazi rally, Ádám Petri-Lukács, a well-known left-wing journalist argues that it is “just jolly good news” that the floor leader of the main governing party, the chairman of the largest opposition party and a former Prime Minister (Gordon Bajnai) should condemn “Nazi hate-mongering.” The meaning of such a gesture, he explains is that regardless of why they do not agree with each other, they have something stronger in common. Petri Lukács remarks that he himself “could fill this page with the idiocies of the government,” but one thing is certain: “this government has never been anti-Semitic. Not one bit.” In connection with the editorial he says if Millamedia thinks it can tell an anti-Nazi rally whom it can have as a speaker or whom to accept as an anti-Nazi, “that reminds me of the maddest Bolshevik gestures.”

After his references to what he means by “normality” and “abnormality,” the editor of Szombat explains that by joining the demonstration, the Fidesz floor leader is promoting the modernisation of the right wing in Hungary – a process which is desirable both from the point of view of general progress and of Hungarian Jewry. “This remains true, even if one supposes (rightly or wrongly) that right-wingers have not yet wholeheartedly joined the struggle against the far right,” he adds, and quotes an ancient Jewish saying: “those who at first only pretend to observe the commandments will, by practicing observance, end up adhering to them wholeheartedly.

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