The extreme-right party Jobbik was at the centre of a furore over its antisemitism this week when a senior member called in Parliament for a survey to identify all Hungarians of Jewish descent, “especially those in Parliament and the government”.
Exchange of views
During scheduled questions before regular business, Márton Gyöngyösi accused the Foreign Ministry of “shameful” pro-Israeli bias (tossing in an assertion that the left-liberal independent news station ATV is “Zionist”). He demanded that Hungary side with the Palestinians living in Gaza.
State secretary Zsolt Németh of the governing conservative party Fidesz had been delegated to answer Gyöngyösi’s interpellation. The government does not take sides in the Gaza conflict, Németh said. There are 200,000 people of Hungarian origin living in Israel, the same number of “our Jewish compatriots” in Hungary, and Hungary is home to “several thousand” Palestinians, one of the largest communities in Europe, he explained. “Hungary welcomes the ceasefire that was agreed [between Hamas and Israel] in recent days,” Németh said.
List of Jews
Following the scheduled question Gyöngyösi had one minute to give an ad hoc response. “I also know how many of our compatriots, how many people of Hungarian descent, live in Israel, and how many Israeli, er, Jewish, er, compatriots live in Hungary,” he said. “I think now is the right time, in connection with such a conflict, to count how many people of Jewish descent there are here, and especially in Parliament and the government, who pose a certain security risk to Hungary…”
At this point Gyöngyösi’s minute was up and he was interrupted by the presiding deputy Speaker Zoltán Balczó, who is also a member of Jobbik. There was no audible reaction from MPs apart from brief applause.
Németh said he could not support the survey proposed by the far-right member. “I think there is not much of a connection between how many people of Jewish descent there are in Hungary’s government and how serious a conflict is taking place in the Middle East,” he said. Only the following day did Németh issue a statement roundly condemning Gyöngyösi’s rhetoric.
Gyöngyösi says he was ‘misunderstood’
Extreme-right politician Márton Gyöngyösi apologised on Tuesday to his “Jewish compatriots” for his easily misinterpreted choice of words. The list would not be of all Jews in Hungary but of politicians who hold dual Israeli citizenship, he said, adding that he sees no need to resign and considers the matter closed.