Hungarian President Viktor Orban has dismissed the World Jewish Congress (WJC) as running a “a left-wing political agenda” after refusing to condemn a magazine cover showing Hungarian Jewish leader—and WJC Vice President—Andras Heisler surrounded by floating money and being involved in “financial irregularities.”
According to a report in the Israeli Haaretz newspaper, the weekly Figyelo (“Observer”) magazine in Hungary featured a cover picture of Andras Heisler, the president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, with banknotes floating around him. The cover appeared in conjunction with an article revealing Heisler’s involvement in “financial irregularities.”
The magazine accuses Heisler and his umbrella group, Mazsihisz, of accounting irregularities in connection with a state-funded synagogue renovation and museum project in Budapest.
Such an image “is one of the oldest and vilest caricatures of the Jewish people and it places not just the magazine, but all of Hungary in a very bad light,” WJC President Ronald Lauder wrote in a letter to Orban last Friday.
“While I understand and respect the boundaries of a free press, I believe your strong, public condemnation of this very clear attack on all Jewish people, would not just distance you, personally, from this most disgusting hatred, worthy of the Nazi era, but it would also place your government and all of Hungary in a better light,” Lauder wrote.
Orban responded by telling Lauder that he was“surprised that you are asking me to limit the freedom of speech and the freedom of press. Despite all my respect for you, I cannot fulfill such a request,” and then went onto accuse the WJC president of only speaking out “when a left-wing public figure of Jewish descent is at the center of a debate.”
“It is hard to comprehend the clear left-wing and liberal bias that you demonstrate in Hungarian public affairs,” continued Orban.“I am uncertain as to whether we should [view]] your letter a political document,or a stand taken for the Hungarian Jewish community. In case it’s the latter, thank you for it. Even if it is unnecessary.”
Figyelo magazine takes a pro-government line in Hungary and its owner is considered close to the Hungarian prime minister.
The Hungarian government and that country’s ruling party, Fidesz, is extremely pro-Israel and Orban has close personal links with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Heisler however has long been an opponent of Orban and the Hungarian government’s anti-Third World invasion policies. In the year leading up to this past April’selections, Orban launched an anti-immigration campaign highly focused on Jewish billionaire George Soros that Heisler said “triggered bad feelings among us Jews.” even though Netanyahu had also condemned Soros. Needless to say, Heisler is known for his support of Israel.