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The death of common sense and good taste in post communist Hungary

Jobbik chairman Gabor Vona addressing Jobbik supporters at the former synagogue of Esztergom.

History has repeatedly demonstrated that Hungary’s leaders cannot be relied on to do the right thing, and Friday night was no exception.  The failure of the Fidesz-controlled Esztergom city council to prevent a Jobbik political rally from being held at a former synagogue marks the death of common sense and good taste in post communist Hungary.

All that was necessary to prevent this latest affront to basic decency was for the Esztergom city council to instruct the city-owned operator of the “community and conference center” not to rent the former synagogue out to Jobbik or other radical right-wing organizations.

If the city council failed to act, it is most likely because Fidesz chairman Viktor Orban and his handlers did not think it politically expedient to intervene.  After all, Fidesz has been doing everything it can to win over Jobbik supporters.

It seems it is not enough for the national curriculum to include the antisemitic rantings of Albert Wass and Jozsef Nyiro, or for busts of wartime leader and Hitler ally Miklos Horthy to be erected, or for Hungary’s new constitution to hold the government blameless for the Holocaust, or for government revisionist historians to rewrite one of the darkest chapters in Hungary’s 1100-year-old history.

No, political expediency demands that former synagogues be rented out to radical right-wing organizations like Jobbik.

The Budapest Beacon could write about how a hundred or so protesters (pictured above) demonstrated by reading aloud the names of some 500 Esztergom Jews deported to Auschwitz in 1944.  We could write about how demonstrators clashed with Jobbik supporters, or how black-clad members of the banned Hungarian Guard stood at attention while Jobbik politicians addressed skinheads in what was once a house of worship.

However, the Budapest Beacon does not wish to dignify what happened Friday night with yet another article about yet another disgraceful display of bad taste and poor judgement on the part of Hungary’s political leaders

Like the Hungarian Holocaust itself, this latest outrage was entirely avoidable.  It could and should have been prevented.  All that was required was for a majority of the city councilmen to say “no”.  And yet they could not bring themselves to do so for fear of somehow being perceived as “anti-Hungarian” or “politically biased”.

To Hungary’s so-called leaders, liberal and conservative alike, we at the Beacon say “a plague on both your houses.” Your selfish, petty, corrupt, immoral behavior has brought nothing but misery to the Hungarian people. You are the reason Hungary fails.

In utter revulsion and total disgust the Budapest Beacon offers its readers the following quotes as reported by pro-government Magyar Nemzet (mon.hu) and pro-opposition Népszabadság (nol.hu).

Get out of the synagogue you Nazi murderers!  – An old man to Jobbik leader Gabor Vona shortly before being physically assaulted by one of the Jobbik event organizers.

Holding a forum in the former synagogue at which such statements are made which violate the memory of the victims and the spirit of the place is a perverse action on the part of Jobbik.  – Anges Drelyo, local MSZP politician

If we couldn’t protect them seventy years ago, then let us not allow those who are spiritually allied with the butchers of that time to sit in contented celebration. – Tamas Gal, MSZP candidate for mayor

It does not fall within my administrative powers (to prevent the city-owned company from renting the former synagogue to Jobbik)  –  Mayor Eva Tetenyi (Independent)

Gordon Bajnai, Ferenc Gyurcsany, and Fidesz politicians have held public forums in the building.  As an organization responsible for hosting cultural events we cannot make distinctions among parties.  However, if the city council as owner instructs us otherwise, that creates a different situation. –  Csilla Maronka, Director

Referring to the past and to Holocaust survivors in the case of a functioning democratic parliamentary party established ten years ago is outrageous, lacks credibility, and pathetic.  Zsolt Zentai Plajner, President of Esztergom chapter of Jobbik

We are not responsible for the Holocaust.  We have no reason to be ashamed before Jewdom.  And it is for this reason that I entered this building with a clear conscience.  – Gabor Vona, Chairman, Jobbik

Referenced in this article:

‘Takarodj a zsinagógából!’ – zengett Esztergomban, nol.hu; 14 February 2014

Több százan tüntettek a Jobbik fóruma ellen, mon.hu; 14 February 2014


Richard Field :