I’m afraid I’m returning with disappointing news about the Hungarian opposition’s feeble efforts to forge a united front against Fidesz. If this attitude continues, Fidesz’s victory is guaranteed come the spring of 2014. Vera Lánczos, a member of the Galamus group, rightly entitled her essay on the anti-racist demonstration organized by DK “The final grade is F.”
However, there is at least something that is crystal clear now: the leadership of Fidesz no longer even tries to hide its racism and anti-Semitism. And that’s good in a way because perhaps the true nature of Fidesz will be more discernible to politicians of democratic countries.
I wrote two articles on the subject of a New Year’s Eve brawl in Szigethalom. In the first one I summarized Attila Ara-Kovács’s excellent article entitled “Roma strategy, from Balog to Bayer.” Hungary’s contribution to the European Union was the so-called Roma strategy. Hungary was supposed to be the torch bearer, but not much has been accomplished since the summer of 2011 when the details of the plan were released. The second article dealt with the very close connection between the government and Zsolt Bayer, the author of a despicable article on “a significant portion” of the Gypsy population who are not fit to live and should somehow be eliminated.
At the end of the second post I indicated that within twenty-four hours the Fidesz strategy for handling the case took a 180° turn. Instead of apologizing and promising to be more vigilant, the editor-in-chief and owner of Magyar Hírlap revised his stance and defended the views of Bayer; he asked the paper’s readers to stand by Bayer, Magyar Hírlap, and their government.
While this was going on, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) fined the Magyar Labdarúgó Szövetség (MLSZ) 35,000 Swiss francs as a result of what happened at the Hungarian-Israeli football game in August 2012. In addition, the Hungarian national team that is scheduled to play against Romania will have to play in an empty stadium in March. MLSZ is appealing the ruling. In addition, MLSZ claims that they learned about the decision only from the website of FIFA, while FIFA claims that they sent the information to Budapest in December 2012.
MLSZ considers the punishment unfair. I assume Viktor Orbán must think the same because, when asked what he thought of the ruling, he announced that it is much better if he says nothing. Right-wing papers call the ruling “madness” and naturally blame “certain Jewish organizations” for the severity of the punishment. Another article that appeared in Magyar Hírlap claimed that the ruling has nothing to do with football. It is a political attack against Hungary. In the past anti-Hungarian slogans weren’t punished by FIFA. Moreover, if it were any other country but Israel FIFA wouldn’t have done a thing. In any case, the Israelis shouldn’t have been allowed into the European League because it was predictable that such incidents would occur time and again.
The rumor is already spreading in right-wing circles in Hungary that the whole incident was a planned provocation. The “fans” who were waving Iranian and Palestinian flags and who turned their backs on the Israeli anthem while yelling at their top of the lungs were “paid extras” hired by Hungary’s enemies, who are traitors.
But, let’s go back to the brawl on New Year’s Eve and Zsolt Bayer and what that has to do with the anti-Semitic behavior on the football field. As it turns out a great deal, because it seems that Fidesz politicians in their effort to defend Zsolt Bayer went a little too far and revealed that they not only agree with Bayer on the Gypsy issue but that they also share Bayer’s anti-Semitism. Or at least they are ready to use anti-Semitic slogans against their political opponents.
How did Viktor Orbán’s party end up in this unenviable position that most likely will result in Fidesz’s being dubbed an openly anti-Semitic party? A young Fidesz politician who was earlier a member of MIÉP became the spokesman of the party on the issue of Roma crime and the Bayer affair. When it became known that DK was organizing a demonstration demanding the expulsion of Bayer from Fidesz, Máté Kocsis, the young Fidesz member of parliament and mayor of District VIII known for his harsh views on the homeless, announced that while Fidesz understands Bayer’s passion Fidesz politicians object to his style. I guess that means that if Bayer said what he said more politely it would have been all right. In Fidesz’s opinion, as translated by Kocsis, the relationship between Fidesz and Bayer is not really the issue. What is important is that a crime was committed. And, Kocsis added, if the opposition organizes a demonstration against “the reaction to a crime and not the crime itself, they unwittingly stand on the side of criminals and murderers.”
Selmeczi Gabriella, the official spokesman of Fidesz, also had a few harsh things to say about the demonstration. The left encourages criminals because, according to the opposition politicians, the guilty party is not the man who kills but the one who is aroused by the crime. She added that “Hungary had enough of the hate campaign of Ron Werber.”
Well, with Ron Werber we arrive at the link between Fidesz’s racism and its anti-Semitism. Ron Werber is an Israeli who was a political adviser to MSZP in the early years of the new century. Ron Werber became famous in the “campaign business” as Israeli Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin’s campaign manager in 1992. Ten years later the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) contracted Werber and won – reversing an originally losing position. After Werber left, MSZP hired American advisers Tal Silberstein and Jeremy Rosner, whom László Kövér referred to as “Rózenkranc és Szilverstein.” So, whether the advisers come from Israel or the United States Fidesz’s emphasis was on their Jewishness, says Zsófia Miháncsik in today’s Galamus.
And this is the sign that awaited the few hundred demonstrators yesterday afternoon in front of Fidesz’s party headquarters: “Don’t take the side of the murderers, don’t listen to Ron Werber!”
So, the opposition takes the side of murderers and MSZP gets its cues from Israel or from American Jews. I think this is pretty clear.
While Fidesz was playing on the anti-Semitic sentiments of a sizable portion of Hungarian society the minister of defense, Csaba Hende, was giving a speech in the Holocaust Center in Budapest. He emphasized that “one must fight against hate and discrimination.” He even admitted that the Hungarian state didn’t defend its citizens in 1944 and 1945. The usual double-talk, but unfortunately Hende seems to be a welcome guest at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.
As for the demonstration. After DK announced that it would hold a demonstration in front of Fidesz headquarters, both MSZP and Gordon Bajnai of E14 immediately announced their decision to join it. In the end, however, the leading lights of MSZP and E14 weren’t present. It was only Solidarity that brought along its activists. The explanations given Sunday night on ATV by András Schiffer, Tibor Szanyi, and Gordon Bajnai were pitiful. I expected nothing from Schiffer, but I’m deeply disappointed in Bajnai. I’m afraid that Péter Juhász’s phantom organization, Milla, is holding him hostage. But I predict that this strategy will backfire. People want unity and hate party squabbles. They have a very bad opinion of parties already, and if they see disunity and petty quarrels they will hate them even more. That doesn’t bode well for active participation in the next elections.