Israeli officials condemn depiction of Hungarian Jewish leader

Israel asks Hungarian government to condemn anti-Semitic depiction of the head of Hungary’s Jewish federation on cover of prominent weekly.

Orli Harari,

Jews in Hungary
Jews in Hungary
Flash 90

Israeli officials responded on Saturday night to the depiction of the head of Hungary’s Jewish federation on the cover of a prominent pro-government weekly surrounded by banknotes.

The Figyelo magazine, which published the picture, accused Andras Heisler, head of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz), and the federation of accounting irregularities in connection with a state-funded synagogue renovation project in Budapest, allegations that Mazsihisz denies.

Yossi Amrani, Israel's ambassador to Budapest, called Heisler and expressed shock at the anti-Semitic depiction.

In a press release issued by the Israeli ambassador after the conversation with Heisler, he said, "I am certain that all the relevant elements in Hungary will renounce this."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's diplomatic adviser spoke with the Hungarian ambassador to Israel and condemned the publication of the picture.

"The adviser said that Israel is asking the Hungarian government to condemn every anti-Semitic tone in the internal disputes in Hungary," Netanyahu's office said.

Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni said that "the Israeli government must immediately condemn this anti-Semitic attack and return to the forefront of the struggle against anti-Semitism everywhere and all the time. There is no Israeli interest that justifies stammering or turning a blind eye. Whoever harms our brethren harms us. This is the moral imperative of the State of the Jewish people, the historic imperative and the imperative of the hour."

Jewish groups in Hungary have in the past accused Orban's right-wing government, in power since 2010, of downplaying Hungary's role in the Holocaust during which some 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished.

In 2015, however, Orban admitted his country’s role in the Holocaust, saying many Hungarians chose "bad instead of good" in helping deport Jews to Nazi death camps.

He has also come under fire for failing to condemn the anti-Semitism of the Jobbik party.

In November of 2012, one of Jobbik’s members released a statement saying that a list should be compiled of all of the Jewish members of government.

He was followed by another Jobbik member who called publicly for the resignation of a fellow MP who claimed to have Israeli citizenship.

The latest row comes just a day after the Hungarian government pledged to spend 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) every year on various projects to combat anti-Semitism in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe.




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