We have suspected for a long time that Jobbik, the Hungarian neo-Nazi party with parliamentary representation, has developed fairly strong ties with certain Islamic countries. For example, we knew that Gábor Vona, the party chairman, visited Yemen as early as 2003. It was also rumored that Jobbik was getting financial assistance from Iran. In any case, Jobbik’s relations with Tehran were so close by 2009 that Vona demanded that Iranian observers be present at the 2010 elections.
At that time we knew relatively little about possible connections between Iran and Jobbik, but lately more attention has been paid to this extremist party’s relations with the anti-Israeli Islamic world in general. Márton Gyöngyösi, Jobbik’s foreign relations expert and deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign relations, shed some light on this matter in an interview he gave to the British weekly, Jewish Chronicle. Among other things he claimed that “Jews were colonizing Hungary and that Israeli treatment of Palestinians amounted to a Nazi system. Apparently, he also questioned whether Jews “have the right to talk about what happened during the Second World War.” He questioned whether 400,000 Hungarian Jews were really killed or deported from Hungary to Nazi death camps during World War II. “It has become a fantastic business to jiggle around the numbers,” he told the newspaper.
During the interview the question of Iran came up. The paper mentioned that a year ago, in January, Gábor Vona took the Iranian ambassador to Hungary to the small Jobbik-led town Tiszavasvár which he called “the capital of our movement.” In October Jobbik hosted a large Iranian delegation to Hungary. At this gathering Vona declared: “For Iran, Hungary is the gate to the West.” Gyöngyösi told the Jewish Chronicle that “Iran is in the center of a Middle East axis that Israel and the US want to subjugate and keep under their control. Iran is an extremely peaceful country and never started a war, unlike Israel which has declared wars on anything and everybody around it.”
It didn’t take more than two days for the Gyöngyösi interview to be picked up by the Jerusalem Post. The editors of the Post asked a leading expert on Eastern European and Baltic-based anti-Semitism, Professor Dovid Katz, about his assessment of the situation in Hungary. Katz claimed that “the situation in Hungary is much more volatile than it looks. Much of what Jobbik is saying is embraced by Fidesz. A certain type of anti-Semitism is camouflaged as center-right.” Katz elaborated: “Jobbik, by carrying out the work of the ‘Nasty Far Right’ is in effect enabling the ‘Camouflaged Far Right’–the Fidesz government itself, presenting itself as center-right to the naives of Western Europe–to pursue deeply anti-democratic, anti-Semitic and fascist-glorifying policies.” Indeed, we know that the Hungarian government is using fear of the extreme right to shield the Orbán government from the onslaught of criticism coming from the European Union and the United States. Let me quote from the Jewish Chronicle: “An official in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry told … ‘We are very, very worried. The prime minister [Viktor Orban] could easily fall in the coming months, taking the ruling party down with him, and Jobbik is well-placed to become the largest party in Parliament in an election.'” So, hands off, West!
Who is this Márton Gyöngyösi? A very odd addition to Jobbik for sure. He was born in 1977 and he spent the bulk of childhood in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, and India because his father worked as a foreign trade expert during the Kádár regime. He finished high school in Hungary, but he moved on to Ireland where he received his B.A. in economics and political science at Trinity College. While an undergraduate he spent a year at the Friedrich Alexander Unversität in Nuremberg. He speaks excellent English and German.
The sign says “Tom Lantos will never be an ideal for Hungarians”
After graduation he spent four more years in Dublin working for the KPMG group. It was only at the end of 2004 that he returned to Hungary. He continued to work for KPMG for a while but later moved on to Ernst & Young. He showed up in Jobbik circles only in 2006 and soon enough was part of Gábor Vona’s inner circle.
Within Jobbik all sorts of stories circulate about him. According to one source, some in the party suspected him of being an informer for the Hungarian secret police. According to another former leading light of Jobbik, it was Gyöngyösi who suggested the “Arab orientation” to the party leadership. The pro-Russian stance was already fairly strong when Gyöngyösi showed up and he embraced it as well. By 2010 Jobbik seemed to follow an anti-euroatlantic foreign policy. One ought to look east. After all, China and Russia are bigger than the United States and Europe. Moreover, Hungarians’ roots are in the East, so went the argument.
For Gyöngyösi Russia was the first victim of bolshevism, and if Vladimir Putin was acceptable to Aleksandr Solzhenytsin then he should be okay for the Hungarians as well. Gyöngyösi admires China because “the Chinese government in record time brought prosperity to its people.” It seems to me that it is not only Gábor Vona who shares Gyóngyösi’s interest in the East but the Hungarian prime minister as well. Orbán uses very similar language when talking about China, Russia, or the Middle East.
Gyöngyösi asked a reporter of Barikád, the official newspaper of Jobbik: “You think that any sane Chinese cares that he lives in a country that is communist in name?” Some fiercely anti-communist far-right Jobbik members were taken aback: “As if we had flown back in time to the age of the socialist brotherhood,” they said.
Jobbik’s Iranian connection is becoming more and more visible by the day. On December 2, 2011, Jobbik organized a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy protesting U.S. policy toward Iran. Gyöngyösi was one of the speakers in his capacity as chairman of the Hungarian parliament’s Iranian-Hungarian friendship group. He was also the one who organized the Iranian ambassador’s visit to Tiszavasvár. On January 8, Gyöngyösi participated in a program disseminating information about the Koran. Joining Gyöngyösi were the ambassadors of Iraq, Qatar, Morocco, Palestine, and Malaysia.
As for Gyöngyösi’s interview with the Jewish Chronicle, the Hungarian foreign ministry published a strongly worded condemnation of Gyöngyösi’s opinions about Israel and the Holocaust. So did the Christian Democratic People Party (KDNP). MSZP decided to go the police and demand an investigation of Gyöngyösi’s denial of the Holocaust, which is a crime in Hungary.