BUDAPEST, Hungary — As the World Jewish Congress pressed Hungary to crack down further on the Jobbik party, WJC President Ronald Lauder apologized to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
In a resolution passed Tuesday, the WJC called on the Hungarian government to implement laws to protect all citizens, “in particular vulnerable minorities such as the Roma and the Jews,” against “threats of violence, racist hate and insults and the denial of the Holocaust.”
In closing remarks to the WJC plenary assembly, however, Lauder apologized for some of the criticism he had leveled during the assembly at Orban. On Monday, he chastised Orban for not mentioning Jobbik, the country’s third-largest political movement, in the prime minister’s speech to the opening session and suggested Orban was being soft on Jobbik in order to win right-wing votes.
Lauder said he had not known about an interview Orban gave to the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot ahead of the WJC meeting in which Orban had called Jobbik “a real danger, an increasing danger.” Lauder read out Orban’s interview statement, which said that “if we want to protect democracy, we must take a firm stand against Jobbik. Jobbik has developed a political ideology that quite obviously violates the human rights of Jews at both an individual and community level.”
The WJC meeting, usually held every four years in Jerusalem, took place in Budapest to show solidarity with Hungary’s Jewish community in the face of Jobbik’s political rise and a series of anti-Semitic incidents.
Jobbik, which uses virulently anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-Roma rhetoric, won nearly 17 percent of the vote in the last elections.