Daily Israel Report

From Hungarian Neo-Nazi to Orthodox Jew

Upcoming documentary focuses on the life story of Csanad Szegedi, the Far Right Jobbik politician who discovered his Jewish roots.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 12/17/2013, 12:12 AM

Swastika
Swastika
Israel News photo: Flash 90

A film is being made on the life story of reformed neo-Nazi Csanad Szegedi, who made headlines last year after discovering his Jewish roots. The film will be produced by production company AJH Films and seasoned documentary and non-fiction company Roast Beef Productions.

Szegedi's career in Far Right politics was cut short by the revelation that his grandparents were Holocaust survivors and that he was Jewish. As a leading member of the Jobbik party, Szegedi’s politics were characterized by his anti-Semitic and anti-Roma comments. His rise through the party ranks took him to his current position as a Member of the European Parliament in Brussels.

Along the way, he achieved notoriety for re-establishing the Magyar Guarda (Hungarian Guard), a reformation of the Arrow Cross, which was responsible for the murder of thousands during WWII. This paramilitary group, who were promised powers of public authority in the event of Jobbik coming to power, was shut down by order of a Budapest Tribunal in 2009.

He was also condemned by watchdog organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, who warned the public of Szegedi's anti-Semitic views as he rose to power. 

Political parties within the Far Right have gained popularity in recent years throughout Europe. In the 2010 General Elections, Jobbik increased its number of seats in the Hungarian Parliament to 47, becoming the third largest party despite having been established a mere eight years previously. This rise has been mirrored by an increase in anti-Semitic and anti-Roma attacks.

The crisis of heritage has placed Szeged in a unique position. Once Szeged's Jewish heritage was revealed, his position in Jobbik was cut short and he was forced to resign. Despite this, he has kept his position in the European Parliament as an independent politician; Szegedi also bravely asked for forgiveness from the Jewish community for his actions in 2012, after meeting with Hungarian Orthodox Rabbi, Rabbi Slomo Koves. 

“Had I made any comments in the past years that offended the Jewish community, I ask for forgiveness,” Szegedi told Rabbi Slomo Koves. “Now that I have been faced with my Jewish roots, that I do not regret at all, keeping in touch with the leaders of the Hungarian Jewish community has become especially important for me,” he said.

Szegedi also reportedly has been living as an Orthodox Jew since the revelation, slowly taking on observances like keeping kosher and the Shabbat, according to Ha'aretzCBN notes that he has also visited Israel, including the Yad V'Shem Holocaust museum and the Western Wall. 

The revelation has elicited mixed reactions from the political and Jewish communities alike. Szegedi's story has made headlines on both news sources and Jewish websites as a source of inspiration and reform.

Unfortunately, however, the politician's past continues to follow him; just six days ago, the former Jobbik official was deported from Canada, just 24 hours after arriving to speak at a Chabad Lubavitch event in Montreal, according to Global News

“I acknowledge that I have a lot of sins. And this is why I understand those people who are not happy me being here. But these sins I try to rectify not only at the verbal level  but at the level of my actions,” said Szegedi in a taped message to the Jewish community there. 

“I have to tell the Canadian Jewish community… that I am exactly such a Jew as they are. I cannot help it – as you cannot help it," he concluded.