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Lauder’s anti-Semitism charge rebuked

July 21st, 2016

Budapest’s Jewish journal described as disquieting that the number one representative of world Jewry should be ‘unaware of the real nature of contemporary anti-Semitism’. The paper rejects Lauder’s description of Hungary as the most anti-Semitic country in Europe.

In one short paragraph of a lengthy interview with The Observer (in which – as the headline runs – he ‘Praises Putin, Chides Obama, Misses Reagan’ ) Ronald Lauder, the President of the World Jewish Congress said Europe has become a dangerous place for Jews again and ’the worst offender is Hungary’.  ‘Because they now have a neo-Nazi party called Jobbik’, he explained and added that ‘they had started to put up statues of Admiral Horthy, who was a Nazi. They’ve changed wording in their constitution—taking out the word Holocaust’.  His words were debunked by the president of the Hungarian Association of Jewish Faith Communities. In a letter to the World Jewish Council Mr András Heisler wrote ‘unrealistic statements about the plight of Hungary’s Jewry must be due either to manipulation by journalists or mistaken information by advisers’. He said Hungary’s Jews live in security and asked the WJC to consult his organisation for information about anti-Semitism in Hungary in the future.

In Szombat, János Gadó remarks that all three arguments put forward by Mr Lauder were misguided. Jobbik is not a Nazi party and has abandoned its racist traits in an attempt to appear as a centrist one. Horthy was not a Nazi and erecting statues to him are not on the agenda. The Holocaust has never been explicitly mentioned in Hungary’s constitution. However, Gadó’s main problem is that Mr Lauder does not mention Islamist anti-Semitism, which is the single most real threat to Jewish people in Europe.

In Magyar Hírek, János Csontos recalls that only recently Mr Lauder thanked Prime Minister Orbán for not supporting the idea of erecting a statue to an interwar cabinet minister who played a role in preparing anti-Jewish legislation in 1938 (see BudaPost, December 2015 through January 2016). At the same time, he also welcomed the Hungarian government’s resolve not to support initiatives to erect a statue to interwar Regent Miklós Horthy. Mr Lauder apparently has a memory problem Csontos concludes.

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