Israel ambassador to Hungary calls “intolerable” Fidesz publicist Zsolt Bayer’s anti-semitism

April 12, 2016

Zsolt Bayer (Photo: Magyar Hírlap)
Zsolt Bayer (Photo: Magyar Hírlap)

In response to a series of op-ed pieces penned by Fidesz publicist Zsolt Bayer seeking to justify political anti-semitism in Hungary under the title “Intolerable” (“Tűrhetetlen”), Israel’s Ambassador to Hungary, Ilan Mor, has written a letter to the Editor-in-Chief of Magyar Hirlap condemning the pro-government print daily for publishing the articles and informing him that the embassy is canceling its subscription.  The conservative print and online daily is owned by prominent businessman and Fidesz supporter Gábor Széles who also happens to be a strident anti-semite.  Mor condemns as “intolerable” the overtly anti-semitic views espoused in the three op-ed pieces published on February 27th, 29th and March 1st in the wake of popular opposition to the unveiling of a bust to World War II politician György Donáth.

“I simply protest today’s despicable manifestation of the offspring of the scum of 1919 and 1945!  These, if they could, would once again murder, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.  Just as languidly as their predecessors,” opens the first of three op-ed pieces published in rapid succession after Fidesz politician (and Viktor Orbán protegé) Gergely Gulyás and former prime minister Péter Boross were prevented by an angry crowd of protestors from formally dedicating a statue to Donáth within short walking distance of Budapest’s Holocaust museum.

The apparent purpose of the first essay was to publish and editorialize the speech that Gulyás was unable to deliver, but quickly deteriorates into an anti-Jewish rant.

“The mob prevented the dedication of the statue of György Donáth, and for this reason Fidesz vice chairman Gergely Gulyás was unable to give his memorial speech.  Here are some thoughts from the undelivered speech:

‘Throughout the World War government party politicians opposed German national socialism, and after the 1944 invasion until the end of the world war did not participate in public life.  As was cited in court during the show trial against him:  in 1944 he recommended that those representativs who remained in Budapest sit together and declare unlawful the (Hungarian fascist party) national assembly which took place in Sopron, ‘we unalterably remain the institution of national sovereignty.’  Strongly opposing the Soviet invasion as well, as a member of the Hungarian Fraternal Community György Donáth caught the attention of the political office of the Ministry of Defense under Communist rule.  Not functioning in 1944, the Hungarian Fraternal Community was reactivated in 1946 with such members as Árpad Göncz, the elder József Antall, and Domokos Kosáry.’

Was György Donáth an anti-semite?

He was.  Like innumerable exceptional, undeniably talented, wonderful people without whom Hungarian culture and Hungarian history simply wouldn’t exist.”

Bayer claims that the 100-day red terror under Hungarian Bolshevist Béla Kun in 1919 was responsible for political anti-semitism, and that a resurgence of anti-semitism in the wake of the crimes committed under the Communist dictatorship of Mátyás Rákosi is perfectly understandable.

Characteristically, Bayer cites passages from “respected” and “learned” figures to give a gloss of credibility to his anti-semitic rantings, including a lengthy excerpt from the diary of Zsigmond Móricz in which he describes in great detail the disgust he feels while observing two Jews.

“Their noses and ears are big, their mouths strange.  The lower lip is swollen: the kind of mouth I always see with disgust so that I have to avert my eyes.  Such a mouth makes my throat nauseous, and since I have always instinctively defended myself from dealing with uncomfortable notions and death, sickness and disgusting things, I didn’t know why, but now it has occurred to me that under the violence of surveilling them, that this disgust is erotic.  This mouth promises an erotic grip, and gives rise to the horror of homosexuality.”

Bayer cites a 2005 article appearing in left-wing print daily Népszabadság pointing out that the political anti-semitism of the 1920s was the product of the red terror  under Béla Kun which traumatized the likes of Zsigmond Móricz and Endre Ady.

“So the anti-semitism following the (Bolshevik government of Béla Kun) and the red terror was “natural” and understandable, from which it is understandable that neither Móricz nor Ady could remove themselves.  That’s fine.  We also see it this way.  What is not clear after all of this is if the smartest and the most cultured can forgive the anti-semitism caused by the red terror and the “Jewish uprising”, then why can’t we forgive the same people?”

Alright.  It’s high time to pose the question: why are we surprised that the simple peasant, whose defining experience was when the ”Jews” broke into his village and beat the priests to death or hung them from lamp posts, the judge and everyone they didn’t like, those who the “Jews” threatened with turning their church into a cinema, well, why do we consider it shocking, when the peasant person 20 years later “passively” watched on as the gendarmes deported the Jews from his village?

This is an important question when we reflect on anti-semitism, and this question raises many other questions.  For example, who may have a statue in this country, and who may decide this?”

In response to the three op-ed pieces, Ambassador Mor sent the following letter to Magyar Hírlap Editor-in-Chief Péter Petán dated April 4th.  A copy was sent to Antal Rogán, Hungary’s so-called “propaganda minister” who is, in fact, the minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s cabinet.

Dear Mr. Petán,

I am utterly shocked and dismayed that a leading Hungarian political daily like your newspaper would publish several articles, written by Mr. Zsolt Bayer, under the title “Intolerable” – “Tűrhetetlen”.

What is indeed intolerable is the fact that these articles include carefully crafted history-cleansing remarks, presenting your readers with an “alternative history”, resulting also in the distortion of the true story of the Holocaust, the SHOA.

What is indeed intolerable is the clear fact that these articles openly advocate anti-Semitic sentiments and incite against the Jewish People and the State of Israel (see for example, articles #10, #14).

What is also intolerable is the writer’s attempt of accusing the Jewish People at imposing on all Non-Jews the memory of their deceased in the SHOA and/or those who suffered during this horrible time, and by doing so – allegedly, overshadowing other martyrs throughout history. This “Competitive Victimhood” or “Competition of Pain” (as formulated by the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy) projected in Mr. Bayer’s articles, belongs without a doubt to what is considered by many experts and politicians, as modern day anti-Semitism.

I find it absolutely intolerable that these articles, not only relativize the SHOA, an unprecedented crime without parallel in history, but also make general and false accusations against the Hungarian Jews, as if they are to be blamed for the Hungarian tragedies, which took place throughout the 20th century.

In this context, it is important to mention the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks of England: “…Jews have been hated because they were rich and because they were poor; because they were capitalists and because they were communists; because they kept to themselves and because they penetrated everywhere; because they believed in tradition and because they were rootless cosmopolitans…”

Unfortunately, Mr. Bayer’s articles reflect this odd perspective toward the Jewish People, namely, “…It’s all the Jews fault – anti-semitism exists because of what Jews do, what Jews say or what Jews believe and Jews are to be blamed for all evils in the world – past, present and future…”.

Moreover, Mr. Bayer’s insinuations, assumptions, as well as his false accusations against the Jewish People and the State of Israel, the Jewish State, are not only wrong and misleading, but are also totally in contradiction to the official statements and positions of the Government of Hungary, which implements a policy of Friendship and Cooperation with the State of Israel.

All of the above is intolerable! Ez tűrhetetlen! (“This is intolerable!”-transl.)

Therefore, as of today, the Embassy of the State of Israel will no longer subscribe to your newspaper.


Ilan Mor

Ambassador of the State of Israel

CC:  H.E. Mr. Antal Rogán, Minister, Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister