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Fidesz accused of anti-Semitism again

April 20th, 2018

As the government pledges to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, a group of western European intellectuals accuses Fidesz of anti-Semitism. A left-wing columnist agrees, the two pro-government dailies protest.

Remembering the victims of the Holocaust on Monday, the government and Fidesz wrote that the Hungarian government is determined to defend all religious and ethnic minorities, and to fight all forms of racism and anti-Semitism. The press release underscored that no one has to fear discrimination or violence on religious or ethnic grounds in Hungary, and suggests that (by contrast) anti-Semitism and religious intolerance is on the rise in ‘pro-immigrant’ western European countries.

On Tuesday, in an open letter published in Politico, two hundred western intellectuals called on Angela Merkel to distance herself from the Hungarian government. The signatories also urged the European People’s Party to expel Fidesz. Among other things, the letter accused the Hungarian government of weakening democracy as well as indulging in anti-Semitism.

Népszava’s Miklós Hargitai finds the Hungarian government’s statement on Holocaust Memorial Day ‘complacent’. The left-wing columnist claims that the anti-Soros campaign of Fidesz amounts to ‘covert anti-Semitism’. Hargitai also accuses the government of conducting anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim  campaigns that  contradict the spirit of religious tolerance mentioned in the Fidesz statement. In conclusion, Hargitai contends that Fidesz is responsible for growing anti-Semitism in Hungary. (The latest nationwide survey on anti-Semitism was published last year and found that the last significant increase in anti-Semitism was recorded in 2010, while ‘only modest changes have been observed since’.)

In Magyar Hírlap, Mariann Őry finds the anti-Semitism charges levelled against Fidesz absurd . The pro-government columnist writes that Muslim migrants arriving in Europe are indeed more anti-Semitic than European majorities, and also that in most of these states, anti-Semitic violence has surged. In light of this, it is peculiar for western intellectuals to worry about anti-Semitism in Hungary, Őry adds. She claims that the Fidesz anti-Soros campaign has nothing to do with the ancestry or religion of George Soros, but was motivated by Mr Soros’s efforts to weaken national sovereignty.

In Magyar Idők, Levente Sitkei recalls that Mr Soros has been fiercely criticised over the past three decades in many countries, from Great Britain to Malaysia without such critics being accused of anti-Semitism. He  calls the current charges of anti-Semitism levelled against the Hungarian government a ‘conscious distortion of facts and a shameful political manoeuvre’.

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