The true colors of Fidesz became obvious this weekend

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!”

DK demonstration, Fidesz sign

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.

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Member
Some1
January 14, 2013 1:04 pm

“Do not stand on the side of murderers!” the sign reads. I wonder if Fidesz meant that people should not stand on the side of Fidesz/Orban, as they were the ones who let out the axe murderer from jail, for what exactly?
I think it is time for a few countries to consider some diplomatic steps in order to protest the Hungarian government’s openly racist stance.
I also thin that Jewish organizations should stop their “cooperation” and distance themselves from Janos Lazar’s charade for the Jewish memories.

Minusio
Guest
Minusio
January 14, 2013 1:47 pm

“That doesn’t bode well for active participation in the next elections.”

I hate to admit it, but in my mind, the elections 2014 won’t change the present situation at all. And you confirm my suspicion that the opposition parties will lose the historical chance to unite before Hungary becomes another Belarus.

It’s so sad. The people I know – and their kids – are leaving the country in droves

Bowen
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Bowen
January 14, 2013 1:50 pm

Some1 :
“Do not stand on the side of murderers!” the sign reads. I wonder if Fidesz meant that people should not stand on the side of Fidesz/Orban, as they were the ones who let out the axe murderer from jail, for what exactly?

Well, that’s the thing. It’s always VERY VERY easy to find terribly obvious flaws in Fidesz’s PR. Flaws which one could use against them. From this banner, to the Soviet-style ‘Friends of Hungary’ website, to the poster of Bajnai & Gyurcsany which said ‘Together they destroyed the country’.

Yes, some people thought that poster was clever, because it made use of the word ‘Egyutt’. But no, it wasn’t particularly clever, because potentially, it’s extremely easy to satirise and turn against Fidesz with exactly the same message. Take your pick: Orban & Schmitt – together they destroyed the country; Orban & Matolcsy; Orban & Hoffmann; Orban & Horthy, etc. etc.

But, of course, Hungary doesn’t seem to have a thriving opposition or an independent media to challenge whatever drivel comes out of Fidesz’s PR machine. And the Magyar Hirlap readers just suck it all up.

Tyrker
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Tyrker
January 14, 2013 1:53 pm
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 When I read her piece on Galamus, I thought that was a rather far-fetched and unsubstantiated assumption. Kövér’s words were just a – rather dreadful – pun on the advisors’ names, alluding to the Shakespearean characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern appearing in Hamlet, and also immortailsed by W. S. Gilbert and Tom Stoppard. These are not Jewish names, they are a couple of Danish noble families. I believe that Kövér found the names of the advisors amusingly similar to these historical/literary names and simply couldn’t resist the temptation to crack a joke. As far as Ron Werber goes, his name is essentially synonymous with hate-mongering in Hungary, and there’s a reason for that. The 2002 campaign may have been successful, but it was also extremely polarising and full of ugly, FUD-spreading propaganda. It was the most dreadful of all election campaigns, with many a family breaking up, friends becoming foes and so on. Ron Werber wasn’t the only person –… Read more »
Ron
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Ron
January 14, 2013 2:09 pm

Eva: 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.

According to the Fifa the penalty is CHF 40,000. The CHF 35,000 was for Bulgaria. The hearing was on November 20. The parties were informed about the decision on January 8.
See http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/organisation/news/newsid=1982124/ for the press release.

Interesting the Fifa stated that according to their law, MLZS, is responsible for home games. So clearly MLZS is in the wrong.

Pektin
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Pektin
January 14, 2013 2:12 pm
There is a misunderstanding here. Racism and anti-semitism are not hot political issues with which a politician can talk to a lot of people and win a lot of votes. Most people are fed up with these problems. They acknowldge the problem (those who do), but most of them think that politicans should deal with more pressing issues. They (the majority of voters not being Roma or Jewish) cannot really feel the problem, even if they have a certain emphatic ability. So these issues remain toys for intellectuals, which is just what Fidesz wants. In the meantime, at least nobody talks about taxes, health care, education, investments, protection of property rights, currency rates, you name it — which would matter to the majority and could potentially influence undecided voters. Although the consequences of the recent Bayer article were probably unintended, I am sure that now Fidesz realizes that it can induce a bit of a mini-tempest which can draw the attention of liberals from the main daily problems. Note also: those who care about anti-semitism and roma issues would not vote for Fidesz anyway, so Fidesz has no political interest to cater to those people (they need to be more… Read more »
Guest
January 14, 2013 2:18 pm
London Calling! Welcome back Eva! We missed your posts. So if it is a mistake to allow Israel into the European League – then surely it’s a mistake to allow all those black players in too? And the concomitant ante-Semitism and Racism is their fault! (I’m no expert on football – so will await Paul’s expertise – and opportunity to have another pop at Israel!) The main thrust of you piece is that there is little ‘apparent’ unity in the opposition parties. I think you know from many of us naysayers, by now, that all the opposition parties have to be uniquely and COMPLETELY united to a (wo)man to have even the slimmest chance of beating Orban. LMP started the rot. It is deeply depressing that they don’t realise that they have to BE united an BE SEEN to be united to get anywhere. Sad. ************************************************* Can I just add – (and it may be just me!) – that although I faithfully read your recent contributor’s two pieces, I’m afraid, I got little from them. I have often self-flagellated myself for stating things from the book of the bleedin’ obvious – but I felt that that was what we got… Read more »
Member
January 14, 2013 2:21 pm

What if the banner was not meant for the demonstrators. What if it was for the Fidesz sympathizers, the undecidedand the Fidesz refugees. The Fidesz is already shaking in it’s boots and trying to prep their own for the upcoming “assaults”. “Did you know he is Jewish?” Came on Tyrker! This is clearly meant to be an anti-Semitic message. So is Kover’s “joke”. Try asking the average Joes in Hungary about Rózenkranc és Szilverstein! Good luck! Anti-semitism is rampant among the Fidesz believers. How many more innocent remarks do you want to prove how anti-Semitic the Fidesz is?

Regarding hate mongering. First of all it’s not “hate mongering” – it’s “negative campaign” and there’s nothing wrong with it. The Fidesz leaves no choice for the opposing team. As they say “Violence works. At least worked during the Second World war”. Let’s not underestimate the dumbness and laziness of the average Hungarian voter. The Fidesz doesn’t. Orban’s whole kingdom is built on stupidity.

They have to be treated the same way as they treated the MSZP since 2006. “How is it feel when it’s your mother?” as the dirty joke goes.

spectator
Guest
spectator
January 14, 2013 2:31 pm

Tyrker :

Of course, equating those who speak up against – perceived or real – racism with those who “support murderers” is unacceptable – but talking about anti-semitism in the context of this “trolling” slogan is way too far-fetched.

– And just why would it be “too far-fetched” as you see it?

Would you mind to name one other option, just what the name of Ron Werber has to do with a DK organized a demonstration for the Roma right there and then, other than heating up and diverting racial sentiments against the Roma and the Jewish too, at the same time..?

The other part of that lovely sentence declares point blank, that ‘all the Roma ARE murderers’ – since supporting them IS ‘supporting murderers’ as we learned…

If I remember well Edmund Burke said somewhere:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

As I see it, attempting to confuse and discourage ‘good men’ who actually want to do something is on the Fidesz’s agenda, just to ensure that triumph at any price, and that’s what we are witnessing right now.

Member
Some1
January 14, 2013 2:36 pm
@Pektin #6 I think you are wrong when you say “Racism and anti-semitism are not hot political issues with which a politician can talk to a lot of people and win a lot of votes. Most people are fed up with these problems. They acknowldge the problem” THe truth is that blaming new taxes, poor conditions, robbing of the country on the Jews is an ongoing widely present issue in Hungary. Yes, in the intellectual circles it is a joke (until is not, proven by Bayer), but in other places it buys you vote. Can you tell me one thing that Fidesz took responsibility of? Actually next to racism Hungary also exercises a hate of any other politics or political party. I am not sure if there is a word for that, maybe anti opposition. Anything that is wrong with Hungary was done by the MSZP, by the EU, by the IMF, by Gyurcsany, the philosophers and foreign conspirators according to Fidesz. Jobbik took this idea step further by introducing the foreignheartedness. Anyone who does not worship the ideas of Jobbik are all foreignhearted. Fidesz also grew up to embrace this strange concept, but wit this the two parties started… Read more »
Guest
January 14, 2013 2:39 pm

London Calling!

I’m also amazed at how much ‘electioneering’ is going on for Fidesz: the backs of buses; these banner-type messages; and other bill-board campaigns too.

No wonder they want to ban other parties – and leave their own un-contested propaganda with a free run.

Another nail in the coffin of EU democratic principles that have to be added to the list for the final day of reckoning.

Someone needs to start collecting the evidence.

Very Belarusian that! – Very!

Regards

Charlie

Kingfisher
Guest
Kingfisher
January 14, 2013 2:57 pm

Surely, protests against Bayer’s vile article should be organised and conducted by Hungarian civic society, not discredited politicians campaigning for votes. The fact that it wasn’t is rather shameful.

LEcso
Guest
LEcso
January 14, 2013 3:11 pm

Do you know what the sad thing is about the protest?

Anyone can estimate the average age? 50? 60? 70?

Pektin
Guest
Pektin
January 14, 2013 3:45 pm

What I wanted to say is that the undecided voters don’t care about these issues. The leftist, liberals will not vote for Fidesz, however much they will condemn Bayer, and the anti-semite and anti-roma radicals will vote for Fidesz, whatever it does. (In addition, the general leftist voter is also quite anti-roma or even anti-semite, just not radically so, and dont assign too much importance to this issue, as opposed to the strongly rightist voters).

Member
January 14, 2013 3:45 pm

LEcso :
Do you know what the sad thing is about the protest?

idiots1.jpg, idiots4.jpg, idiots9.jpg ??? Where did you get this picts?

LEcso
Guest
LEcso
January 14, 2013 3:47 pm

Mutt :

LEcso :
Do you know what the sad thing is about the protest?

idiots1.jpg, idiots4.jpg, idiots9.jpg ??? Where did you get this picts?

Yes sorry about that, I googled for it quickly, and found them on a website of slight different political orientation.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
Karl Pfeifer
January 14, 2013 3:47 pm

LEcso, the estimated average age of the pro-Orbán peacedemonstrations is similar.

LEcso
Guest
LEcso
January 14, 2013 3:50 pm

Karl Pfeifer :
LEcso, the estimated average age of the pro-Orbán peacedemonstrations is similar.

Also true.
So where are the young people?

nyaripal
Guest
nyaripal
January 14, 2013 3:53 pm

“(I’m no expert on football – so will await Paul’s expertise – and opportunity to have another pop at Israel!)”

Charlie, I’m sure even you realise that my attitude towards Israel and Zionism is far beyond the childish desire to have “a pop” at them.

As for Israel being ‘in Europe’, it clearly isn’t.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
Karl Pfeifer
January 14, 2013 4:13 pm

nyaripal Israel is as far as football is concerned in Europe, because it’s Asian neighbors are not ready to compete with teams of the Jewish state.
Be it as it be. FIFA was right to punish the Hungarian football association because of the antisemitic riot.

Guest
January 14, 2013 4:16 pm

London Calling!

I just put it down to Geography not being the football community’s strong point.

And Kazakhstan? (et al)

…and regarding your ‘Israeli’ pops – they are inappropriate on here!

Regards

Charlie

Guest
January 14, 2013 4:18 pm

Karl – yes – I agree

oneill
Guest
oneill
January 14, 2013 4:37 pm

“The true colors of Fidesz became obvious this weekend”.

Those “true colours” being that there are a number of anti-semites and racists within its ranks? That Orban would sell his granny to the nearest white slave trader (or pander to the anti-semitism and racism endemic within all strata of Hungarian society) if it meant several more votes in Ujpest next election?

It’s hardly news is it?

Member
January 14, 2013 4:45 pm

oneill :
That Orban would sell his granny to the nearest white slave trader

He’ll even deliver for a little extra …

LEcso
Guest
LEcso
January 14, 2013 4:59 pm

I personally don’t believe that Fidesz is an antisemitic party.
Look how they started out, as liberals, then suddenly the switcharoo to conservatism, did he change his belief system? No, he just thought his original plan won’t get him what he wants (which is power), so he changed his tactics.

He does the same now, ride on a wave of nationalism and xenophobia as long as it works out for him. If he loses support, he will simply remove Nyírő from the curriculum the same way they put it in (and I dont mean this literally about Nyírő, but about changing their tactics if the nationalist wave dies out).

cheshire cat
Guest
cheshire cat
January 14, 2013 5:32 pm

has anyone seen this interview on ATV’s morning show?

http://atv.hu/videotar/20130114_tuntetes_bayer_zsolt_ellen

….. [I’m speechless]

the quality of this “journalism” is one thing – but what they are trying to talk about is even scarier than I thought

Kirsten
Guest
Kirsten
January 14, 2013 5:47 pm

“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.”

And yet the disunity displayed by the parties reflects quite well the disunity of the voters – provided they care and display more than just a general disgust for politics as such.This and the ideas circulated indeed do not bode well for 2014, but given that even people with clear political goals such as students, lawyers etc. prefer a strategy that tries to strictly avoid parties and wish to concentrate on just their own issue, no substantive change can be expected in 2014. But generally I still consider this disunity as an (apparently necessary) step to eventually finding out how an alternative Hungary could look like, certainly this sounds too positively, but I consider this kind of “brainstorming”. (And people should participate, and not require “unity” in matters where the population also often has quite contradictory views.)

nyaripal
Guest
nyaripal
January 14, 2013 5:55 pm

Karl Pfeifer :
nyaripal Israel is as far as football is concerned in Europe, because it’s Asian neighbors are not ready to compete with teams of the Jewish state.
Be it as it be. FIFA was right to punish the Hungarian football association because of the antisemitic riot.

Football federations are geographically, not politically, based. You could have used the same argument re South Africa a few years ago. That would have been absurd, but it’s the same logic.

nyaripal
Guest
nyaripal
January 14, 2013 5:56 pm

CharlieH :
London Calling!
I just put it down to Geography not being the football community’s strong point.
And Kazakhstan? (et al)
…and regarding your ‘Israeli’ pops – they are inappropriate on here!
Regards
Charlie

Perhaps you’d like to list a few of my “Israeli pops” and point out a) how they were ‘pops’ and b) how they weren’t in context with the article they were commenting on?

nyaripal
Guest
nyaripal
January 14, 2013 6:01 pm

LEcso :
I personally don’t believe that Fidesz is an antisemitic party.
Look how they started out, as liberals, then suddenly the switcharoo to conservatism, did he change his belief system? No, he just thought his original plan won’t get him what he wants (which is power), so he changed his tactics.
He does the same now, ride on a wave of nationalism and xenophobia as long as it works out for him. If he loses support, he will simply remove Nyírő from the curriculum the same way they put it in (and I dont mean this literally about Nyírő, but about changing their tactics if the nationalist wave dies out).

An interesting view, and quite possibly an accurate reading of Orbán. But I suspect his internal politics really have changed over the years. He may have made his political switches to get/keep power, but I think they also pretty much matched his own political ‘development’.

And, as far as I can tell from the many Fideszi I know, Fidesz itself most definitely IS a racist and anti-Semitic party.

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