Jobbik’s Gábor Vona and his Hanukkah greetings

Today Ákos Hadházy, co-chair of LMP, managed to retain his position despite opposition from András Schiffer and the admittedly ineffectual smear campaign of the Fidesz-inspired media. Hadházy’s internal critics accused him of jeopardizing LMP’s firm policy of not cooperating with any other party when he talked about the necessity of dialogue among opposition forces.

I’m convinced that deep down Hadházy knows that the party’s current strategy is doomed to failure, but with a brave face he is trying to pretend otherwise. At the press conference after the party congress Bernadett Szél somewhat pointedly remarked that the party’s election strategy had already been decided earlier: LMP will be on its own at next year’s election because “there is no party in parliament that LMP could work with.” Hadházy took the easy way out by emphasizing that LMP doesn’t want to attract voters from the left but rather “hopes to convince voters of the government party that change is necessary.”

Now to the main topic of today’s post.

A few weeks ago the government launched a smear campaign against Gábor Vona, chairman of Jobbik, which, as I indicated earlier, didn’t achieve its aim. In fact, the methods used to demonize Vona were so primitive and base that I got the distinct impression that the campaign actually resulted in some sympathy for Vona, even on the left.

Thus, new tactics were required, which Gábor Vona himself offered to Fidesz when he decided to write Hanukkah greetings to the various Jewish religious communities, including Slomó Köves’s Chabad-based Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation. Köves is a supporter of Orbán. Shortly after the formation of the second Orbán government he became chief rabbi of the Hungarian armed forces.

Vona’s Hanukkah greetings were obviously part of Jobbik’s new strategy, which includes shedding the party’s anti-Semitic past. The problem is that that past was laden with so many sins against Hungarian Jews that a quick turnaround couldn’t be accepted by Köves or any other Jewish religious leaders. Köves wrote a lengthy letter in which he listed some of Jobbik’s most outrageous anti-Semitic statements. After a few famous sayings from the Old Testament, such as “The tongue has the power of life and death,” Köves suggested that instead of sending Hanukkah greetings, Jobbik leaders should voice their new convictions, if they are genuine, at forums where previously “not light, but hatred, ignominy, and darkness reigned.”

Köves made his letter public, which in turn elicited a public response from Vona. Perhaps the most interesting part of the letter is Vona’s explanation of how he ended up on the wrong side. He “inherited” his anti-Semitism because he found himself in an environment in which “one side called Hungarians Nazis, while the other labeled Jews traitors.” Since then, he “has come to the realization that this doesn’t lead anywhere.”

Vona’s answer didn’t satisfy the Jewish community, which was justifiably offended by his occasional juxtaposition of Hungarians and Jews instead of Christian and Jewish Hungarians. At the same time, it also outraged the more radical members of Jobbik who, I’m convinced, have been getting ample support in their opposition to Vona’s leadership from Fidesz.

Origo has been closely following the reverberations within Jobbik after the Hanukkah affair. The first story of some import came from Vecsés, a town just outside the city limits of Budapest. Vecsés at one point was the center of the Army of Outlaws movement, whose leader is a friend of Gábor Vona. Otherwise, Jobbik claims that the party and this neo-Nazi group have nothing to do with one another. On the local level, however, there seems to be cooperation despite the denial. Or, at least this used to be the case. The only Jobbik member of the town council was, or perhaps still is, affiliated with the Army of Outlaws. This man, Imre Orbán, has a reputation for being a troublemaker and has distinguished himself as a fouled-mouthed anti-Semite. This time he placed a post on Vecsés’s Jobbik Facebook page in which he accused Gábor Vona of making a fool of Jobbik members by turning to the rabbi with his apologies. He added some four-letter words in his discussion of Hanukkah. This incident was taken seriously by the party and Vona promised to investigate.

The official “state news” Híradó reported a few days ago that the Jobbik leadership in Vámosmikola, a village of 1,600 inhabitants, also criticized the leadership because of the Hanukkah greetings and the subsequent exchange of letters. Jobbik cannot be strong in Vámosmikola since in the 2014 municipal elections it didn’t even have a candidate for mayor or the town council, but even the smallest protest is big news in the right-wing press.

Pesti Srácok gleefully reported that a former member of the Magyar Gárda, once the paramilitary arm of Jobbik, since dismantled, demanded the vest that was part of their uniform from Vona, who proudly wore it at the opening of parliament in 2010. By trying to build bridges between Jews and the party, Vona “became unworthy” of this precious vest, claimed the former member of the Magyar Gárda.

Yesterday Magyar Idők called attention to a demonstration of disappointed Jobbik members that will take place in Debrecen, where the organizers are expecting Jobbik sympathizers from four counties. These people not only complain about Vona’s Hanukkah letter but also about Jobbik’s abandonment of its earlier radical political strategy. A closer reading of the article, however, reveals that most of these people are no longer members of the party. As the chief organizer, Erika Ulics, a lawyer, explains, 35-40 local leaders who will gather in Debrecen already left the party after Vona, in 2014, decided to scuttle the party’s former ideals. Ulics herself was expelled from the party, allegedly because she leaked inside information to Népszabadság.

Ulics, by the way, is a notorious neo-Nazi and an admirer of Ferenc Szálasi, who was executed for war crimes in 1946. In addition, she is a racist who suggested that all Gypsies should be forced to join the army and attack Romania. “If we win, Transylvania is ours. If we lose, Hungary is ours.” Those with strong stomachs should visit the news sites Cink and 4024 for more quotations from this vicious neo-Nazi and anti-Semite.

The government-sponsored sites are so eager to spread news of the imminent collapse of Jobbik that they are resorting to fiction. According to alfahir.hu, Jobbik’s official site 888.hu reported that the entire ten-man Jobbik group in Nemeshetés, population 320, resigned in protest over Vona’s new pro-Jewish policies. It turned out that Jobbik doesn’t have a local cell in the village. Since then, the article has been taken offline.

Yesterday afternoon Ulics’s demonstration did take place. It is hard to tell from the picture just how many people attended, but as far as I can judge, there were mighty few. It certainly didn’t shake Jobbik to its very foundations as, I’m sure, some Fidesz leaders hoped.

The sign, by the way, is an Albert Wass quotation: “The surest weapon against mendacity and falsehood is truthfulness. This is our weapon.” And one shouldn’t miss the doctored photo of Gábor Vona and Ágnes Heller walking hand in hand. It is unlikely that Heller received this distinction because these people are such admirers of her accomplishments as a philosopher.

All in all, I tend to agree with the political scientist Attila Ágh, who in a recent interview said that Vona’s new strategy, for the time being at least, hasn’t resulted in any spectacular growth in the party’s popularity. On the other hand, it hasn’t collapsed either. The opposition to Vona is small, and he still has the party leadership behind him. Most supporters have remained faithful to the party, but it is difficult to predict whether Vona’s new strategy can achieve its aim of attracting voters from the left and from the large group of the undecided.

January 15, 2017
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Guest

Vona also sent a similar Hanukkah greeting to the Federation of Jewish Congregations in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ), the largest Hungarian Jewish religious organization (which by the way the minuscule, but independently wealthy and influential Slomó Köves organization [the Hungarian arm of the worldwide US-based Lubavitcher Chabad sect] has been trying its best to destroy since about 2003).

In response to Vona’s initiative, MAZSIHISZ convened a round table conference to debate not just the implications of that initiative, but the hard challenges that Hungarian Jewish organizations might face, should Jobbik get into government. All Jewish organizations, as well as some prominent non-Jewish commentators were invited to join the conversation, including Slomó Köves, who however last minute backed out of his earlier promise of participation in the round table conference.

For those who read Hungarian, it might well be quite interesting to read the following reports on the proceedings at the conference, which also include a full length video of the debate:

Szombat (with full length video of the proceedings):

http://www.szombat.org/hirek-lapszemle/van-igeny-a-gyuloletre-magyarorszagon-a-jobbikrol-vitatkoztak-a-zsidok

Budapest Beacon:

http://hu.budapestbeacon.com/kiemelt-cikkek/van-igeny-gyuloletre-magyarorszagon-jobbikrol-vitatkoztak-zsidok/

The MAZSIHISZ website (with full lengrh video of the proceedings):

http://www.mazsihisz.hu/2017/01/12/mit-csinaljunk,-ha-a-jobbik-kerul-hatalomra–9982.html

e-1956
Guest

Vona was in good company in his previous life.
See the Paris resolution review by Aaron Klein.
http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2017/01/15/five-anti-israel-offenses-paris-peace-summit-final-declaration/

Perhaps he will steer some Hungarians away from the classic racist beliefs.

Guest

Don’t hold your breath.

Guest

An earlier version of this post went into Moderation, then got swallowed up and disappeared, so here it is again:

Vona also sent Hanukkah greetings to the Federation of Jewish Congregations in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ), the largest Hungarian Jewish religious umbrella organization, which then organized a round table conference of Hungarian Jewish organisations to discuss the implications. For those who read Hungarian, here are a couple of articles on the conference from the internet edition of Szombat , including full length videos of the proceedings:

http://www.szombat.org/hirek-lapszemle/mit-csinaljunk-ha-a-jobbik-kerul-hatalomra

http://www.szombat.org/hirek-lapszemle/van-igeny-a-gyuloletre-magyarorszagon-a-jobbikrol-vitatkoztak-a-zsidok

and the version that appeared in the internet edition of Budapest Beacon, without however the video:

http://hu.budapestbeacon.com/kiemelt-cikkek/van-igeny-gyuloletre-magyarorszagon-jobbikrol-vitatkoztak-zsidok/

Guest

Looks like Vona is dead serious about challenging Orbán in 2018. For those who read Hungarian, here is another article from Szombat, in which Vona explicitly spells out his political intentions:

http://www.szombat.org/politika/vona-a-reutersnek-elismerjuk-izrael-letezesi-jogat-identitasat

Guest

By the way, Slomó Köves of the Hungarian arm of the US-based Chabad sect that goes under the name of Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH) was also invited to participate in the above-mentioned round table conference organized by MAZSIHISZ. He declined to attend virtually minutes before the start of the conference. It is worth mentioning that his minuscule, but independently wealthy and politically influential outfit – allied to Fidesz – has been mud-wrestling MAZSIHISZ for dominance over Hungarian Jewish religious affairs ever since the establishment of EMIH in 2003. For those who read Hungarian and might be interested in more information about this, there is an article in the December edition of Mozgó Világ by Dr. Szilvia Peremiczky that spells out the details.

Ferenc
Guest

First thing, which is clear to me, that all these ‘mouthpiece’ media (incl.state-TV!!) bring fake-news about Jobbik-Vona, and their objectives to do so are pretty obvious. Best way to handle them is make caricatures of them, ridicule them, and go as minimal as possible into their ‘accusations’.

Further on I remember a poll and article from last year, called ‘Never seen this level of xenophobia in Hungary’. Included was a poll ‘How many accept as neighbour a …….(split-up per political party)’, relevant result for this post:
Accept Jew: 53% (Fidesz) – 51% (Jobbik) – 57% (HU average)
(note higher% means more acceptance)
So very little difference between Fidesz an Jobbik supports.
Poll was done for more than only Jewish neighbours (e.g.4-child family, Chinese, American, Gypsy, Arab). Overall (and to my surprise) Fidesz’ supporters showed less acceptance for ‘other’ neighbours than Jobbik’s!!

Full infogram (by index): https://infogr.am/075adef9-f3a8-4b63-abf9-0c9b96479bd5
Full article (in Hungarian): http://index.hu/tudomany/2016/11/17/soha_nem_latott_merteku_az_idegenellenesseg_magyarorszagon/

Denzel
Guest

DK supporters seem a lot more racist and xenophobic than Jobbik supporters.

Ferenc
Guest

OT, alert:
BBJ (Budapest Business Journal) publishes the coming 2 weeks ‘Then and Now Retrospective: 1956’
The Budapest Business Journal published a supplement today on the 1956 Uprising. The aim is to tell expat businesspeople working and living in Hungary, as well as their families and tourists arriving here, more about the background to, and events of, the revolution.
http://bbj.hu/budapest/bbj-publishes-then-and-now-retrospective-1956_127300
Could be nice, but reading “supplement was financed by the 1956 Memorial Committee, established for the 60th anniversary of the Uprising, in the framework of The Year of the Hungarian Freedom program series” (so under the ‘supervision’ of the court hysterian), made me vey suspicious about it.
Curious if Dozsa Laszlo is featured in it (don’t expect Pruck Pal to be mentioned)………….

wrfree
Guest

“We are not communists, we are not fascists, we are not national socialists, though we are not democrats either” January 28, 2012, during speech at Jobbik party meeting (source in Hungarian).

I’d suggest always food for thought when discussing past, present and future political strategy of Jobbik. If there is some contemplated switch of thought within the party Vona could find himself defining a road that leads to confusion. With the result that as an opportunistic predator faced with difficulties he always knows what he can feed on if he needs sustenance.

Istvan
Guest

I have always been fascinated by the story of Sándor Rózsa, the figure used by the Outlaw Army at all of their events. My grandfather and grand uncle who loved American cowboy movies would always tell me about Sándor Rózsa in a very Robbin Hood way. I read when I was about 11 years old I read Zsigmond Móricz’s book about Rózsa and 1848 from the massive Hungarian library owned by the famous chef Louis Szathmary who lived near us in Chicago. That library is now at the University of Chicago (Szathmary Hungarica Collection).

Eva how exactly did Rózsa get transformed from a figure of peasant rebellion and Robbin Hood to the symbol of a fascist cult?

Tyrker
Guest

I guess the reason is simpler than you’d think: since that particular fascistic group happens to call itself the Outlaw Army (probably because some of its leaders will have spent most of their lives as jailbirds), they simply picked the most famous outlaw in Hungarian history as their symbol.

Istvan
Guest

I thought it might be that the Arrow Cross may have adopted him or something like that which I was unaware of. I never recalled reading anything about Roza specializing in robbing Jews that would make him especially appealing to modern day fascists either, so maybe Tyrker your simple explanation is the most logical.

Guest

Not too much OT:

Today we found the latest edition of the Jobbik “newspaper” Hazai Pálya in our letter box – at first glance more than half of it is filled with stories (and pictures …) of Fidesz corruption, the usual suspects, Habonyi, Pharaon, Vajna etc
And the remaining pages are filled with “Orbán Királyi” and pictures of the palace/castle …

bimbi
Guest

So they are not lying- about Fidesz and Orban anyway (Orban rapes the castle).

bimbi
Guest

And of course, we can notice that the 2018 election advertising blast by our national government has already started with many huge ads showing Vona and Gyurcsany facing each other with the caption something like, “They deserve each other”. That may or may not be so but Hungary certainly does not deserve the Orban/Fidesz crooks, not then, not now, not in the future.

Guest

Not totally OT:
The British rag Express (can’t really call it a newspaper) has a report on Hungary and O’s fight against “NGOs financed by Soros” – the comments are unbelievable!
Some lunatics repeat the stories about Soros working for the Nazis etc – “Fake News” at ist best/worst …
http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/752874/George-Soros-Hungary-ban-Viktor-Orban-NGO-billionaire-capitalist-Donald-Trump

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