Anti-Semitic Hungarian Politician Discovers Jewish Roots
Far-right party leader resigns amid controversy
The anti-Semitic leader of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party has resigned upon learning that he is Jewish himself, according to the Associated Press.
Csanad Szegedi, an ultra-nationalist politician who is notoriously known for his provocative comments toward Jews, acknowledged in June that his maternal grandparents were Jewish, making him a Jew according to Halakha.
His grandmother was even revealed to be an Auschwitz survivor while his grandfather was a veteran of forced labour camps.
In the past, the 30-year-old has publicly accused Jews of “buying up” the country and desecrating national symbols, while also complaining about the “Jewishness” of the political elite.
An audio tape from 2010 has recently been discovered in which Szegedi and a convicted felon, Zoltan Ambrus, are heard discussing the politician’s Jewish heritage.
During the meeting, which Szegedi acknowledges took place, Ambrus confronts him about his Jewish roots with documents that apparently prove it, and after sounding surprised at first, Szegedi offers money and favours, such as EU funds and a possible EU job, in order for the felon to keep the information a secret.
Ambrus, who served time in prison on a weapons and explosives conviction, reportedly rejected the bribes. He said he secretly taped the conversation as part of an internal Jobbik power struggle aimed at ousting Szegedi from his post as the party’s leader.
According to Szegedi, the tape was altered to make him look bad.
But after the tape was made public, Szegedi became an outcast in the Jobbik Party and resigned last month from all party positions, giving up his Jobbik membership.
The party has also asked him to give up his seat in the European Parliament as well, as Jobbik cites Szegedi’s alleged bribery as the reason behind the request, rather than his Judaism.
“We have no alternative but to ask him to return his EU mandate,” said Jobbik president Gabor Vona. “Jobbik does not investigate the heritage of its members or leadership, but instead takes into consideration what they have done for the nation.”
Szegedi has served in the European Parliament in Brussels as one of the party’s three EU lawmakers since 2009.
He gained prominence in 2007 as a founding member of the Hungarian Guard, a group whose black uniforms and striped flags were reminiscent of the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party which briefly governed Hungary at the end of World War II and killed thousands of Jews.
The group was banned by the courts in 2009, but Szegedi had by then joined the Jobbik Party, which was launched in 2003 to become the country's biggest far-right political force.
After discovering he was Jewish, Szegedi met with Rabbi Slomo Koves, of Hungary's Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch community earlier this month.
“As a rabbi ... it is my duty to receive every person who is in a situation of crisis and especially a Jew who has just now faced his heritage,” said Koves.
During the meeting, Szegedi apologized for any of his past statements deemed offensive to the Jewish community and vowed to visit Auschwitz to pay his respects.