A mayor in Hungary accused Israel of being behind the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, then apologized when a recording of the comments was made public.
The Budapest Beacon reported Monday that a Hungarian news site, nyugat.hu, published a recording made during a city council committee hearing in the western Hungarian city of Szentgotthárd on November 16th.
During the meeting, according to the news website, Gábor Huszár, who has served as the mayor of Szentgotthárd since 2010, apparently sought to placate concerns over the prospect of a nearby refugee camp being expanded by arguing that refugees had nothing to do with the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, which he blamed on Israeli-backed “business circles”, or Jews.
In the recording Huszár, who is a member of the ruling Fidesz party, can be heard saying, “Everyone should just take my word for it. What happened in Paris is clear evidence that certain business circles, dare I say business circles which are likely backed by the Jewish state, are trying to pit Christian Europe against the Islamic State. Therefore, the existence of this camp can have nothing to do with the Paris terror attacks.”
The Israeli embassy in Budapest reacted to the mayor’s statement by releasing a statement condemning Huszár’s “false and laughable statements”.
“The mayor’s statement again proves that there are those who have not learned from history and continue to propagate negative views and conspiracy theories against the Jewish state, Israel. Such statements have led to the great tragedy of Jews in Hungary. Unfortunately, these false and laughable statements were by a public figure, Szentgotthárd’s mayor,” the statement said, according to the Budapest Beacon.
JTA reported on Tuesday that following the release of the recording, Huszar day apologized for what he called his “unfortunate wording,” and said in a statement posted on the municipal website that “it was not my aim to offend anyone, especially not people of Jewish religion. I apologize from those whom I offended. I am sorry for what happened.”
According to surveys, anti-Semitic attitudes have risen in recent years in EU member Hungary, which is home to Central Europe's largest Jewish community of around 100,000.
Members of the country's second most popular political party, Jobbik, have made regular anti-Semitic statements.
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.
Last summer, at the height of Israel’s counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, a town mayor linked to Jobbik was filmed ordering the hanging of effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres in protest against the conflict.
At the same time, Hungary recently made clear that it does not endorse the labeling of products from Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights as decided upon by the EU.