Rabbi Köves: We have to keep the filth out

Rabbi Slomó Köves, leading rabbi of EMIH – Hungarian Jewish Alliance wrote an op-ed regarding the openly antisemitic rhetoric in Hungarian public life.

Rabbi Köves was bothered by the way HírTV, a leading right-wing news television reported on the neo-Nazi march that was held commemorating the 75th anniversary of the day when Hungarian Arrow Cross troops and their Nazi allies attempted to break through the siege lines of the Soviet army. As the far-right gathering was met with anti-Fascists, HírTV reported that the „peaceful gathering” of neo-Nazis was disturbed by aggressive protesters.

888.hu, a right-wing media outlet also reported on the march, without explaining the viewers the historic context of the events. Their article cited the greetings of Nazi leader Otto Wöhler, whose lines ended with the infamous salute: „Greetings and loyalty to the Führer! Greetings to the national leader of Hungary [Ferenc Szálasi, Arrow Cross leader and convicted war criminal – Ed.].”

Rabbi Köves noted that the reporting highlighted how the „Hungarian soldiers were brave heroes.” Tamás Horváth, author of the article on 888.hu also wrote that „the latest trend in cultural politics have created a positive initiative to remember those who fought for Budapest with dignity.”

Horváth therefore looks at Nazi invaders and collaborating Nazi-Hungarians as those, who „defend European civilization”.

The article, writes Rabbi Köves, was since removed from the news site, but it is worrying, that such articles are appearing more and more often and it seems to go even against the current view of history communicated by the ruling Fidesz government.

Köves highlights that such articles and for example, the appointment of Beatrix Siklósi, an outspoken anti-Semite, as head of the Hungarian National Radio all send the message to far-right activists that their time has come again to come out to the open.

Köves also notes that it may be a mere coincidence, but it is again worrying, that there has been a turmoil regarding the newly published National Curriculum not only within the Jewish communities, but also among education professionals, whereby Jewish Nobel-prize laureate Imre Kertész was marginalized, providing room for Arrow Cross sympathizer József Nyirő instead.

The Jewish leader urges to finally come to an agreement regarding the events of 19th March 1944 [day of the Nazi occupation of Hungary – Ed.], declaring that the invading German army were occupiers, and could therefore by no means be protectorcs of European values. Any remembrance of these events that also involve Nazi symbols are against Hungarian law.

„The Jewish community has learned, over 3000 years” – writes Köves, „that first and foremost, it has to stand up to defend itself. However, keeping openly anti-Semitic rhetoric far away from accepted politics is not only in interest of the Jewish community, but in the interest of every civilized nation”.