Hungary MP slated for 'Nazi' comments
A far-right Hungarian politician, who is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, has been condemned for comments in which he urged the Hungarian government to draw up lists of Jews who pose a "national security risk".
Marton Gyongyosi, a leader of Hungary's third-strongest political party Jobbik, said the list was necessary because of heightened tensions following the brief conflict in Gaza and should include members of parliament.
His call came after foreign ministry state secretary Zsolt Nemeth said Budapest favoured a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as benefiting both Israelis with Hungarian ancestry, Hungarian Jews and Palestinians in Hungary.
Mr Gyongyosi, who leads Jobbik's foreign policy cabinet, told parliament: "I know how many people with Hungarian ancestry live in Israel, and how many Israeli Jews live in Hungary," according to a video posted on Jobbik's website late yesterday.
"I think such a conflict makes it timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary."
Mr Gyongyosi (35) is the son of a diplomat who grew up mostly in the Middle East and Asia - Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and India - and whose office is decorated by Iranian and Turkish souvenirs. He graduated with a degree in business and political science from Trinity College in Dublin in 2000.
He worked for four years at the Dublin office of KPMG, then returned to Budapest in 2005 and has been active in Jobbik since 2006. He became a member of parliament in 2010.
The Hungarian government condemned his remarks.
"The government strictly rejects extremist, racist, anti-Semitic voices of any kind and does everything to suppress such voices," the government spokesman's office said.
Laszlo Kover, the speaker of parliament, who is from the ruling Fidesz party, also issued a statement today in which he called for a tightening of house rules that would allow a sanctioning of such behaviour.
Mr Gyongyosi tried to play down his comments today, saying he was referring to citizens with dual Israeli-Hungarian citizenship.
"I apologise to my Jewish compatriots for my declarations that could be misunderstood," he said on Jobbik's website. He later told a news conference that he would not resign and considered the matter "closed," national news agency MTI reported.
Jobbik's anti-Semitic discourse often evokes a centuries-old blood libel - the accusation that Jews used Christians' blood in religious rituals.
"Jobbik has moved from representing medieval superstition (of the blood libel) to openly Nazi ideologies," wrote Slomo Koves, chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation.
Jobbik registered as a political party in 2003, and gained increasing influence as it radicalized gradually, vilifying Jews and the country's 700,000 Roma. The group gained notoriety after founding the Hungarian Guard, an unarmed vigilante group reminiscent of second World War-era far-right groups. It entered Parliament at the 2010 elections and holds 44 of 386 seats.
The centre-right government of prime minister Viktor Orban has struggled to pull Hungary out of recession as many European countries suffer from an economic crisis.
Mr Orban's Fidesz has lost more than a million voters since 2010, even though it is still the strongest political force.
More than half of Hungary's electorate is undecided and having retained its voter base, some analysts say Jobbik could hold the balance of power in the 2014 elections between Fidesz and the fragmented left-wing opposition.