Hungarian deputy who is TCD graduate under fire for remarks on 'listing' Jews


A far-right member of Hungary’s parliament has drawn condemnation for calling on the government to compile a list of Jews living in the country who represent a “national security risk”.

“I know how many people with Hungarian ancestry live in Israel, and how many Israeli Jews live in Hungary,” said Marton Gyongyosi, as his ultra-nationalist Jobbik party called on the government to take a tougher line with Israel over its recent bombardment of Gaza.

“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 told the assembly.

Irish connections

Mr Gyongyosi, who is aged 35, has strong Irish connections. He 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. He has been active in Jobbik since 2006 and became their MP in 2010.

Jobbik holds 44 seats in Hungary’s 386-seat parliament after coming third in 2010 elections, when its campaign centred on a call to crack down on “Gypsy crime” and some of its candidates were accused of using anti-Semitic rhetoric.

The government of conservative Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban said it “condemns to the greatest possible degree” the comments of Mr Gyongyosi and “makes it clear that every citizen will be protected from such insults”.

“The government takes the strictest possible action against every form of racism and anti-Semitic behaviour and does everything in order to ensure that malicious voices incompatible with European norms are driven back,” Mr Orban’s administration said in a statement.

‘Raw fear’

More than 500,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust, most after the Nazis installed a Hungarian fascist party called the Arrow Cross in power in 1944.

“For people like me this generates raw fear, even though it is clear that this only serves political ends. This is the shame of Europe, the shame of the world,” Gusztav Zoltai, executive director of the Hungarian Jewish Congregations’ Association, said of Mr Gyongyosi’s comments.

The deputy explained yesterday that his putative list would be useful “only in the case of dual citizens” of Hungary and Israel.

“I apologise to my Jewish compatriots for my declarations that could be misunderstood,” Mr Gyongyosi said.