International pressure but there could be a way out for Viktor Orbán

As of this moment there is no word from Viktor Orbán on the Hungarian Jewish communities’ decision to boycott the Holocaust Memorial Year if the present plans are not altered. Orbán promised an answer by today but as far as I know he is already on his way to China.

Mazsihisz, the umbrella organization of various Jewish organizations, wrote a letter to the prime minister yesterday in which it offered a way out of the impasse. Instead of opening a new Holocaust Museum, the government should think in terms of a number of Houses of Coexistence which would feature “the Hungarian-Jewish symbiosis” that created a unique Hungarian culture in the twentieth century. The money saved on scrapping the museum at the Józsefváros railroad station would be enough to set up the House of Coexistence in and around the reconstructed synagogue on Sebestyén Rumbach Street, which would be the center of several similar exhibits in other large cities and towns. The rest of the money could be spent on increasing the subsidy to the Holocaust Memorial Center on Páva Street.

I think that would be a capital idea because the Jewish contribution to modern Hungarian culture is enormous. Here are a few figures. In 1920 22.7% of actors,  27.3% of writers and scientists, 17.6% of painters,  23.6% of musicians, 50.6% of lawyers, and 59.9% of physicians were Jewish. Older and younger Hungarians might learn that their favorite writers and actors were actually Jewish. I bet there would be many surprises. I do hope that Viktor Orbán will see the light and agree to a change of plans.

The Jewish organizations are ready to discuss the topic of the monument as well. In the letter to Viktor Orbán Mazsihisz called the attention of the prime minister to “the message that the monument conveys,” which hurts Hungary’s image abroad. Indeed, it does. What the letter didn’t mention was Sándor Szakály’s appointment to the directorship of the Veritas Institute. This would indicate that there can be no negotiations over his position.

If I were Viktor Orbán, I would jump at the opportunity to extricate myself from a very uncomfortable situation. Pressure is mounting. Below are two letters addressed to Viktor Orbán from important international Jewish organizations.

* * *

American Jewish Council urges Hungary to respond to Jewish’s community’s concerns

February 10, 2014 — New York — AJC supports the Hungarian Jewish community’s decision to boycott Holocaust commemoration events this year until the FIDESZ-led government reverses its actions that minimize the role of Hungary in the Nazi extermination of Jews.

“The Jewish community’s decision to protest planned Holocaust memorial events is painful, but then the efforts of the Hungarian government to rewrite history are absolutely traumatic,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC’s Director of International Jewish Affairs. “The posture of FIDESZ is all the more surprising following the declaration that 2014 would be the year of Holocaust commemoration.”

ajcPlans to build a memorial to the German occupation, controversial remarks by the director of a government-sponsored research institute, and refusal to share plans for building a second Holocaust museum in Budapest are all viewed with suspicion by the federation of Jewish communities in Hungary, known by the acronym MAZSIHISZ.

The Hungarian government thus far has refused to alter these plans for the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust or engage in a genuine dialogue with Jewish community leaders. They are increasingly concerned that the government intends to rewrite the history of the Holocaust in Hungary, relieving Hungarians of responsibility and placing all blame on the German occupation which came late during World War II.

“We urge Prime Minister Victor Orban to address the Jewish community’s concerns without delay,” said Baker. “On this 70th anniversary, the government has an opportunity to openly confront Hungary’s past and responsibility.”

Indeed, Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics, addressing an international conference on anti-Semitism in Budapest last October, declared “We Hungarians were responsible for the Holocaust here.”

Hungary is home to the largest Jewish community in Central Europe. Alongside a genuine revival of Jewish life and culture, there is growing anxiety brought on by the electoral success of the extremist Jobbik Party and increasingly populist messages coming from FIDESZ.

A recently released survey of Jews in eight EU countries conducted by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights reported that 48 percent of Hungarian Jews have considered emigrating in reaction to growing anti-Semitism in the country.

* * *

Wiesenthal Centre to Hungarian Prime Minister

“Domestically Holocaust and contemporary anti-Semitism are a function of political mortgages with the extreme right. Memory cannot serve as a fig leaf for hate.”

Paris, 10 February 2014

In a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels noted that “last year, together with our Centre’s Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, we met in Budapest with your Deputy Prime Minister, Tibor Novrascis, to discuss the rising antisemitism in your country and the plans to mark 2014 as the 70th anniversary of the deportation of over half a million Hungarian Jews to their deaths. We heard apologies for Hungarian complicity in the Holocaust and welcomed details for educational commemorative activities throughout the year”.

wiesenthalThe letter cited “a December 2013 United States Mission to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Statement on Incidents and the earlier, June 2013 Brussels Institute/TEV Report on Antisemitic Hate Crimes and Incidents in Hungary, should have acted as a sobering call for government action”.

Samuels stressed that, since then “our membership has been outraged by:

– the continuing rehabilitation of Miklos Horthy, the architect of Hungary’s Axis alliance and the overseer of the Jewish deportation, described by the historian of the Hungarian Jewish Holocaust, Randolph Braham, as a “catastrophe for Hungarian Jewry.”

– the refusal by world renowned pianist, Andras Schiff, to perform in Budapest after the inauguration of a Horthy statue in the city’s centre.

– permits for marches granted freely to the ostensible successor to the ostensibly banned Magyar Garda (Hungarian Guard, modelled on its Hitler Youth style wartime namesake).

– the growing influence of Jobbik, the third largest party in the Hungarian Parliament and present in the European Parliament. Its increasingly blatant antisemitism and Gypsophobia are encouraged by uncontested rallies bearing unadulterated swastikas, the latest planned for a synagogue venue.

– the recent ambiguous statement by Sandor Szakaly, (Director of the newly government founded Veritas Institute) on the atrocity committed in the mass murder of Hungarian Jews on Ukrainian territory.

– the mystification regarding the identities of those to be commemorated by a planned monument to “the victims of the German occupation”, with the hanging question if this is an intended whitewash of Hungarian collaborators.”

The Centre advised the Prime Minister that “in the context of the above-listed events, the wonderful idea for a “House of Fates” (based on the Imre Kertesz Nobel Prize – winning book ‘Fatelessness’) and the announced theme focusing on “the Children’s Holocaust” would seem to be a fig leaf for international opinion, while the Holocaust itself and contemporary antisemitism are left as a function of domestic politics and political mortgages with the extreme right.”

The letter emphasised that, “in such circumstances the Simon Wiesenthal Centre can only applaud and endorse the decision by Mazsihisz – the representative body of Hungarian Jewry – ‘to stay away’ from the government-sponsored 2014 Holocaust commemoration programme until effective measures are taken to counter the above developments.”

“Memory cannot serve as a fig leaf for hate,” concluded Samuels.

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Caprice Goldberg
Guest

Eva,

Thanks so much for your wonderful blog and hard work.

Just a note that it has been heavily reported here that Orban has already arrived in Peking and will be there until Thursday the 13th. You may want to consider editing the 2nd sentence of this entry to reflect this…

koeszmeod
Guest

ADL Statement to the Jerusalem Post

“We support the Jewish community’s decision to boycott the 2014 Holocaust Memorial Year. They’ve lived through that era, they’ve survived that era, and their perspective on the issue is the most important,” Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman told the Post. “Now is the time for Prime Minister Orban to clarify that the government accepts state responsibility for the persecution of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust and to ensure that any memorial sends the same message.”
http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/Jewish-organizations-show-support-for-boycott-of-Hungarian-Shoah-commemorations-340977

koeszmeod
Guest

Ambassador Ilan Mor, shame on you!!!

“While Jewish organizations were quick to express their support for the Mazsihisz decision, however, Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor was less effusive.”

“Israel’s Foreign Ministry has not yet formulated its response to ongoing events in Hungary and is waiting to see how things develop over the next several days, Mor added.”

Simon
Guest

Ilan Mor seems to have a blind faith in Orban & Co, despite the Ferenc Szaniszló debacle, the permissions given to neo-nazi/jobik marches, the Horthy revival and the rewriting of history.
As Kierkegaard once said: “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” Mr. Mor seems to be an easy and willing victim of Orban’s tricks and flicks.

tappanch
Guest

This could be the reasoning of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Most European countries are openly anti-Israeli nowadays. The Hungarian government may be nasty and anti-Semitic, but not anti-Israeli at the UN or EU votes. So let us keep silent.

whoever
Guest

It’s not to be assumed that all Hungarian Jews are as Zionist or supportive of the current right wing Israeli gov as one might think… Perhaps the ambassador/foreign minister feels little obligation?

tappanch
Guest

@whoever

The term “right wing” may have completely different meaning in every country.

Bowen
Guest

OT. Coming into Budapest from the airport on the highway, I’d say about one in ten of all of the large billboards are the same ‘usual suspects’ photo of Gyurcsany and Bajnai etc. Also many billboards of the local Fidesz candidate. Also spotted about 10 Jobbik billboards.

tappanch
Guest

@Bowen

In the elevators of the high rise apartment buildings there are small ad boards. Apart from the usual pizza ads, now you can seen Fidesz and Jobbik ads the bored elevator passenger can read. No ads from the united democratic opposition. NOTHING.

Flyers in the mailboxes come only from Fidesz and Jobbik. No flyer from the opposition.
NOTHING.

THe majority of the people of Hungary wants to get rid of Fidesz (polls still prove this), but the current leaders of the MSzP are either Fidesz moles or completely incompetent people.

tappanch
Guest

Lift ads of the size 29×20 cm cost less than $10/(elevator*month)

There are 23 hundred elevators in Budapest.

Two month campaign therefore costs $46,000.

I cannot believe the opposition does not have that amount of money.

http://www.liftreklam.com/nagyplakat.html

tappanch
Guest

February elevator ads:

district 1 & 2 – Fidesz (M Varga), http://www.liftreklam.com/2014febr_12kerpdf.pdf
district 3 – Fidesz & Jobbik
district 4 – (heavily left-wing) no party ads
district 13 – (heavily left-wing) no party ads
district 10 – (left-leaning) Fidesz
district 18 & 19 – Fidesz

An
Guest

Re: elevator ads… who sells the advertising space on elevators? individual apartment buildings? I wonder how keen on they are selling the space to opposition parties. Fidesz practically made it compulsory for apartment buildings to display the amount the building saves on utilities thanks to the “utility decrease”… or else the rep of the building gets in some kind of legal trouble. So, in case of the ads, there could be some kind of intimidation at work, not just the incompetence of the opposition.

LwiiH
Guest

tappanch :
Lift ads of the size 29×20 cm cost less than $10/(elevator*month)
There are 23 hundred elevators in Budapest.
Two month campaign therefore costs $46,000.
I cannot believe the opposition does not have that amount of money.
http://www.liftreklam.com/nagyplakat.html

I saw a whole group of people wearing MSzP jackets in my village more than a week ago. No idea what they were up to but it did look like they were out to campaign.

As for the billboards I still cannot find a single opposition advert any where I’ve traveled. Only jobbik and Fidesz. The clown pictures are now very boring.

tappanch
Guest

@An

money trail:
advertisers —-> liftreklam.com —-> condos

THere is a slight chance that the intermediary does not give space to the opposition, but I doubt it, and that would be illegal discrimination I guess.

An
Guest

@tappanch: Well, unless liftreklam is owned by Simicska, too 🙂

But joke aside, I think the buildings also have some kind of say in this, at least whether they want liftreklam to use their elevators for advertising. And some buildings, especially in the condition they are in, depend on the goodwill of the local governments (buildings are routinely applying for subsidized loans for renovation, for which they need the local government’s blessing). So I think they wouldn’t want to go against the political leanings of the local government openly, if they can help it.

tappanch
Guest

It turns out that the opposition will announce their combined party list only tomorrow!

They wasted another month arguing…

In the first 40,

Mesterházy Attila (MSZP)
Bajnai Gordon (Együtt-PM)
Gyurcsány Ferenc (DK)
Fodor Gábor (MLP)
Szabó Tímea (Együtt-PM)
Botka László (MSZP)

16. Kónya Péter (Együtt-PM)
19, Molnár Csaba (DK)
26. Vadai Ágnes (DK)
36. Szigetvári Viktor (Együtt-PM)
39. Varju László (DK)

the rest are MSzP

45. Scheiring Gábor (Együtt-PM)
53. Szelényi Zsuzsanna (Együtt-PM)
54. Karácsony Gergely (Együtt-PM)

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/02/11/a-team/

tappanch
Guest

Every single Hungarian owes $10,000 (2.3 million HUF) from the 22,800 billion HUF national debt.

Every single American owes $54,500 from the $17,300 billion national debt.

tappanch
Guest

Average gross wage in Hungary (2012) $10,000 [223,000 HUF]

https://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xstadat/xstadat_hosszu/h_qli001.html

Average gross wage in US (2012) $42,500

Median gross wage in US (2012) $27,500

http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2012

tappanch
Guest

Correction – Average gross wage in Hungary (2012) $12,000

tappanch
Guest

The Statistical Bureau (KSH) does not provide median data.

The Labor Bureau (Munkaügyi Hivatal) revealed the following data for 2012.

average gross salary: monthly 208,636 HUF ($11,200/yr)
median gross salary: monthly 168,000 HUF ($9,000/yr)

average net salary: monthly 144 040 HUF ($7,700/yr)
median net salary: monthly 110,000 HUF ($5,900/yr)

http://iksz.beszolunk.hu/hanyan-keresik-meg-ebben-az-orszagban-az-atlagbert-lerantottuk-a-leplet-a-kamu-adatokrol-es-az-egykulcsos-adorol/

feri
Guest
tappanch, I think the leftists figured, or hope that the target population will be open for ideas and arguments only in the last two weeks. Moreover, as Gabor Bruck said somewhere any campaign cannot really move more than 3-4% of the voters. That said, I think there is a meta-campaign going on on which the left misses out completely. People do not really care about the advertisements and the party meetings, but they figure who has a stronger campaign, and they naturally attracted to the stronger party as people (undecideds, who were unable to make up their minds despite the destruction Fidesz brought) like to be associated with perceived winners and not losers. As the left has no visibility whatsoever (only negative in the media), people cannot conclude that the left is an equal match for Fidesz, as even Jobbik has a bigger campaign that the united left. But I also think that the left has given up on any hope to win the elections. They shoot for a 1/3 which I think is less probable than it was 3 weeks ago. Simon’s story easily took many percents of the left’s base, as undecideds cannot now dare to associate themselves… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Summary, US/HU

Per capita national debt = 5.4
Average gross salary= 3.8
Median gross salary = 3.1

buddy
Guest

re: political ads, I actually saw an LMP billboard the other day. It read “Magyar Sikersztorik” in big stylized letters. No idea how that relates to the election campaign. I thought it was advertising the latest issue of “Haszon” magazine or something…

tappanch
Guest

I just found a nice article how Orban distorts the statistical data about debt and employment.

http://iksz.beszolunk.hu/igy-trukkozik-orban-a-statisztikai-adatokkal-reszletes-bemutatas/

petofi
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :
Here is an interesting article on “Hungary, Ukraine & Putin’s Invisible Curtain”
http://www.the-american-interest.com/blog/2014/02/11/hungary-ukraine-putins-invisible-curtain/

It’s about time that EU member countries come alive to this and pose a challenge to Russia and its already-client-state, Hungary.

Curiously, the Yanks are stand-offish, appearing to enjoy the EU’s difficulties at the moment.
Well, for sure they’ll need a Republican president now…

petofi
Guest

By the way, the Russian incalcitrance can be seen as the logical development of two things:
–Hillary’s ridiculous ‘reset’; and
–America’s backdown of placement of missiles in Poland.

petofi
Guest

A respons to the opposition list:

If politics in Hungary wasn’t, as usual, about self-interest and had more to do with the welfare of the country, the list would look something like this:

BOKROS
BAJNAI
MESTERHAZY
GYRUCSANY
FODOR etc.

petofi
Guest

By the way, Orban and Ader’s congratulations to Iran…no doubt carrying ‘Russia’s water’,
and under direction from Papa Putin.

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