Hungarian Jewish community protests glorification of Hitler ally

Jewish groups are protesting the description of an anti-Semitic Nazi-collaborator as an outstanding statesman by Hungary’s prime minister. 

The Hungarian Jewish community has voiced objection to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s characterization of Admiral Miklos Horthy, the World War II-era leader who allied Hungary with Nazi Germany and who signed anti-Jewish laws between WWI and WWII, as an “exceptional statesman.”

In a speech on Wednesday, Orban called Horthy and other Hungarian leaders “exceptional statesmen” for leading the country after the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I.

Horthy signed the Numerus Clausus in 1920, which degraded the Hungarian Jewry into second-class citizens, as well as the anti-Jewish laws in 1938 and 1939 respectively.

András Heisler, president of MAZSIHISZ – the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, said on Thursday that a man who led the anti-Semitic edicts must not be called “exceptional.”

“The anti-Semitism of the era under his name, which he also took on, cannot be put as an example for the future generations,” Heisler stated.

“The Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary is following public activity ahead of the 2018 parliamentary elections with concern. We believe more progress would be possible if the contesting political parties would focus on the questions of the present and future, instead of evaluating Horthy,” he added.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who met with Orban just hours after he made the statement, expressed his full support for the Hungarian Jewish community’s objection to the prime minister’s offensive words.

“The horrors that Admiral Horthy inflicted on the Jewish community of Hungary by stripping them of their rights and their humanity, and his role in the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, can never be excused,” Lauder stated.

More than 420,000 Hungarian Jews were deported within 10 weeks, and some 550,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust.

“The World Jewish Congress will always stand beside our communities and do everything in our power to defend them against anti-Semitism and any attempts to justify or excuse such deplorable actions,” Lauder declared.

Orban had previously stirred anti-Semitic controversy when in 2016 he gave Hungary’s prestigious Knight’s Cross award to Zsolt Bayer, a journalist known for making anti-Semitic and racist comments, resulting in numerous people returning their own awards in protest.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News