Decoding Fidesz’s coded anti-Semitism: the Németh-Szigetvári “debate”

Friday night Antónia Mészáros hosted a political “discussion” on her program, “Szabad szemmel.” Mészáros is a very able young reporter who has the ability to attract politicians who normally wouldn’t get close to ATV, both for interviews and for discussions with their political opponents. They agree to appear despite the fact that Mészáros is a hard-nosed journalist who doesn’t let her guests off the hook easily.

When two Hungarian politicians of opposite political views get together, the task of the moderator becomes impossible. No Hungarian journalist ever manages to keep order, and these encounters usually turn into shouting matches. This is what happened Friday night when Viktor Szigetvári, chairman of Együtt, and Szilárd Németh, the latest favorite of Viktor Orbán, got together for a friendly chat.

For half an hour one had to listen to parallel monologues about the pros and cons of the referendum on the “compulsory quota” issue. In that verbal pankration, as one of the newspapers called the encounter, Németh was the winner in the sense that he managed to outshout his opponent. Early in the conversation Szigetvári tried to interrupt Németh’s monologue, but it was hopeless. Once this man opens his mouth, it is hard to stop him. Mind you, it is not impossible, as another performance of his on the very same program a few months ago demonstrated. But more about that later.

Szilárd Németh decides to leave

Szilárd Németh decides to leave

The program would have been a total bust, just inarticulate screaming on Németh’s part, but for the fact that in the last few moments Mészáros introduced a different topic, I guess in the hope of moving the conversation along. She brought up a brand new article that appeared in Politico according to which it is hard to be a Hungarian in Brussels. For one thing, people both inside and outside the offices of the European Union are suspicious of Hungarian officials. For another, non-Hungarians–Belgians as well as people from other countries living in Brussels–look upon Hungarians as a heartless people who should be ashamed of themselves. Mészáros wanted to know what Németh thought of this.

Németh responded: “This is simply a lie. The situation is that they will try anything to minimize the importance of the referendum. This is what I’m talking about: they will use everything … including their Hungarian politicians, their domestic economic enterprises, they will….” At which point Szigetvári chimed in: “And surely, also the Jews, isn’t it so?” A few seconds later, after Szigetvári had refused to take back his words, Németh got up and left in a huff.

Szilárd Németh, close and personal

Szilárd Németh, up close and personal

Naturally, opinions on the incident differ greatly, depending on one’s political views. The right-wing media accuse Szigetvári of calling Németh an anti-Semite, which they consider totally unwarranted. After all, he didn’t utter a word about Jews. András Schiffer, who tries to be an independent political player, took Németh’s side by saying that “just because someone is a boor and a slanderer he is not necessarily an anti-Semite. Just because someone is an automatic speaking machine he is not an anti-Semite. If we call someone an anti-Semite just because he seems to have discovered the geopolitical chess games played in Hungary, we only help the arguments of the anti-Semites.”

On the other side are Viktor Szigetvári and his supporters. Coded anti-Semitism has been going on for years in Fidesz circles, and it is time “to decode” the mantra of clandestine powers, foreign agents, and opposition politicians serving foreign interests. As Szigetvári wrote on his Facebook page after the incident, he is sick and tired of this practice. It is time for Fidesz politicians to say whom they actually mean when they refer to banker government, representatives of foreign interests, George Soros, colonizers, clandestine powers, people with foreign hearts in their bosoms (idegenszívűek), etc.

Viktor Szigetvári is right of course. Viktor Orbán and his fellow Fidesz politicians have sent coded messages of this sort for at least 20 years. Indeed, it is time to ask outright: Who are these awful people, lurking in the background, who want to ruin Hungary and who use Hungarian opposition politicians for their evil plans? Fidesz supporters are perfectly aware of the identity of these foreigners. They can easily decode those words. It is enough to read some of the comments following the articles on the Szigetvári-Németh affair.

At the beginning of this post I referred to another political discussion that took place on the same program a few months ago. Antónia Mészáros invited three politicians to discuss the government’s plan to introduce emergency powers in case of a “danger of terror.” The guests were Szilárd Németh (Fidesz), Tamás Harangozó (MSZP), and András Schiffer (LMP). I’m no fan of András Schiffer, but I must say that the sight of Németh, sitting speechless, unable to utter one word against Schiffer’s barrage of facts, was a pleasant experience. The “speaking machine,” as Schiffer called Németh, can be stopped, but few people are up to it.

May 15, 2016
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May 16, 2016 12:48 am

As I have revealed a few times before in this comments section, Orbán, as far back as 1989, after a few drinks at a private party, wished his colleagues “a Jew-free goodnight!”

So what can be expected of such a rude and uncultivated man and his gang of equally uncivilized thugs. There is a saying in Hungary – “A fish stinks from the head down”.

May 16, 2016 2:24 am

London Calling!

Of course Hungary is not a functioning democracy. Dominating the argument through shouting and boorish behaviour is allowed in a Commocracy. Never let a good argument get in the way of a slanging match.

First and foremost rules of ‘engagement’ in the debating chamber define the rules of ‘engagement’ in other places, for example, the studio.

But if proper debating within a framework of democratic debating rules is not observed in Parliament – they are not going to be observed in other bastions of democracy – like TV studios and newspaper articles.

With thugs like Németh the green shoots of democracy will never grow into the great oak that Hungary has never been.

And never will be.

Leave the democracy of the EU.



Andrew J Chandler
May 16, 2016 8:13 am
In connection with the referendum and anti-Semitism, it’s worth pointing out that less than a hundred years ago, the Arabs and the Jews saw themselves as having common cause as Semites. At the Paris Peace Conference, Felix Frankfurter, the Zionist leader, and King Faisal of Syria (later of Iraq) exchanged letters in which they gave mutual recognised that their peoples had both suffered at the hands of the imperialist powers, especially the Ottoman Empire, which had been allied to Austria-Hungary and Germany during the first world war. They were committed to a common homeland in Palestine, and this continued until the growth of anti-Semitism in Austria, Hungary and Germany led to large-scale migration to the Middle East from the mid-1920s, leading to riots among the Arab populations. Since the establishment of the Third Reich, anti-Semitism has therefore been associated with attacks on Jews, whereas all the ethnic Aramaic groups of the middle east, together with the Persians and Assyrians, may be correctly referred to as ‘Semites’. The whole attempt to smear both Jews (external and internal) and Arabs (especially the Syrian refugees) as threats to the ‘Christian civilisation’ of Europe in general, and Hungary in particular, is part of age-old… Read more »
Andrew J Chandler
May 16, 2016 8:19 am

Sorry, can’t find the edit button… fifth line should read ‘… gave mutual recognition…’

May 16, 2016 10:55 am

“Since the establishment of the Third Reich, anti-Semitism has therefore been associated with attacks on Jews, whereas all the ethnic Aramaic groups of the middle east, together with the Persians and Assyrians, may be correctly referred to as ‘Semites’.”

The Persian language, Farsi, is an Indoeuropean language.

May 16, 2016 10:04 am

Excellent article about stupid people!

May 16, 2016 11:44 am
You know after picking up an article written in National Geo Feb 1983 highlighting the ‘tightrope’ Magyarorszag was on playing with communism having a ‘human face’ I’d think Ms. Meszaros might also get an inkling of the changes in Magyar Jewish life through the years as mentioned by the then secretary-general of the ‘Central Board of Hungarian Jews’. The individual noted ‘we have in Budapest 30 synagogues and prayer houses; ours is now the greatest Jewish community in Middle Europe. Perhaps 80,000 strong….. And we have the Jewish Theological Seminary, a century old, the only such school remaining in Eastern or middle Europe’. She appraised the situation for Jews as ‘appearing good’ with the ‘Renaissance’ occurring after ’56. She goes on, ‘Then Mr. Kadar said that in our time it is not interesting whether somebody has written the name of God with a capital letter or with a small letter. It is not interesting if somebody is an atheist or religious. What is important is to build the country’. And after this began a new life’. Looking back there was much positive thinking emanating from the statements. But one has to consider what the intervening years have done to that… Read more »
May 16, 2016 11:59 am

It can be easily misconstrued from the latest article that Hungarian anti-Semitism
is the sole responsibility of the Fideszers.
Szigetvari is, most likely, anti-Semitic, but in a refined, subtle, way.

Anti-Semitism is the long-standing mainstay of the Hungarian psyche; and is happily enjoyed by the great majority of Hungaricoes…

May 16, 2016 2:07 pm

And in my opinion that is why I have always believed that the ‘Magyar psyche’ has been irreparably damaged by those who have inhabited the continuing ‘sinkhole’ to power their way on toward creating a new Magyar dominion where pondering in apparent isolation they have assessed that those lands now apparently against them are indeed contemplating the seeds of their destruction. So now Moscow must be their safe port of call.

As to that perhaps one Communist’s prediction
was fulfilled where in answer to a question of what will happen to Kadar it was noted..’the next chapter will be written in Moscow’. Well taking in a short vacation from studying Lenin
and trying new way of Magyar politics which didn’t seem to work out it would appear that that chapter is now in the books. The West better get used to it. Things in Magyarorszag appear to get uglier by the day.

May 16, 2016 12:06 pm

In an effort to distinguish between that sinkhole of a country called Hungary, and a modern state such as Canada, I will, from time to time, highlight some differences.

In my 3 weeks in Montreal, I have yet to be refused access to a washroom, whether in a high class restaurant or a modest establishment. Moreover, the said facility
was always stocked with toilet paper; and provided a space less likely to need to kiss the back wall…in order to turn around and close the toilet door.

The Wonders of MagyarLand, section 1.

May 17, 2016 9:46 am

As usual, Schiffer has hit the nail on the head.

May 17, 2016 10:58 am


Coded xenophobia and antisemitism us just as ugly as overt.

It has to be coded because the world is watching – and Hungary is – for the moment – a member of a democratic EU.

And you are part of the conspiracy – as is Schiffer.

But coded it surely is in a country of institutionalised racism, xenophobia and antisemitism .

Get out of the EU.

May 19, 2016 2:52 am

Just look at the face of this faithful servant of the Orban regime. And simply listening to his stomach-turning ranting one realises that his face tells it all. A really stupid, good for nothing yes-man, who would sell his own mother if that would please Orban. In a normal society he wouldn’t be able to get a government job, and I am afraid any job at all. As an interesting observation; most Fidesz ministers and the likes are beyond being ‘normal’ people. It is an association of likeminded criminals that got hold on power at the cost of ruining their own country…