Vikot Orbán speaks at the WJC General Assembly meeting in Budapest | Szilárd Koszticsák / MTI

World Jewish Congress meeting in Budapest

May 6, 2013

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) began its general assembly meeting in Budapest on May 3 with nearly 500 delegates from all over the world. In his speech Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán called for "zero tolerance" against anti-Semitism but the WJC says he “did not confront the true nature of the problem.”

In his speech to the 14th General Assembly of the WJC, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán emphasized that the Hungarian Government’s Christian Democratic policy had felt that it was its moral obligation to introduce a memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust in Hungarian schools and to create a Holocaust Memorial Center as well as to listen to the Kaddish in Parliament. It also considered it a duty to organize a memorial year in honor of Raoul Wallenberg, to ban paramilitary organizations and symbols of tyranny and to set up the Holocaust Memorial Committee 2014, he added. Péter Feldmájer, President of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ) also reminded the audience in his speech that after Israel, Hungary was the first country in the world to introduce a National Holocaust Memorial Day.

Prime Minister Orbán pointed out that anti-Semitism was on the rise throughout Europe, including in Hungary, and that failed crisis management from European leaders is “causing increasingly deep frustration” resulting in disillusionment, anger and hatred. He underlined that “in a situation such as this, it is especially important that we make it clear: anti-Semitism is unacceptable and intolerable.” His words were met with applause. The Prime Minister also thanked the participants of the assembly for calling attention to rising anti-Semitism. The Hungarian Government's response to growing anti-Semitism is to "to recall and reinforce the examples and tradition of good Christians," he stated.

A statement by the World Jewish Congress says it appreciates Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s decision to address the international Jewish community. “We welcome that the Prime Minister made it clear that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and intolerable.” However, it says the Prime Minister did not confront the true nature of the problem: the threat posed by the anti-Semites in general and by the extreme-right Jobbik party in particular. “We regret that Mr. Orbán did not address any recent anti-Semitic or racist incidents in the country, nor did he provide sufficient reassurance that a clear line has been drawn between his government and the far-right fringe.”

As the Jewish people have learnt throughout history: Actions speak louder than words, no matter how well intended they are. The WJC will continue to urge all democratic forces in Hungary and elsewhere to combat with great determination rising extremism, anti-Semitism and hatred. We will continue to evaluate the situation in this regard, the statement concludes.


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