World Jewish News
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledges his country’s 'sin' in failing to protect its Jews during WWII
20.07.2017, Jews and Society
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledged his country’s “sin” in failing to protect its Jews during WWII, as he made a joint press statement after meeting with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Neyanyahu in the Hungarian parliament in Budapest.
Pointing out that a “sizable” Jewish minority lives in Hungary today, Orban assured that Hungarian Jews’s security ‘’will be fully guaranteed by the Hungarian state.’’
Around 120,000 Jews live today in Hungary.
Orban continued: ‘’I’ve also made it very clear to the Prime Minister that the Hungarian government has a zero tolerance policy against all forms of anti-Semitism,’’ he added, stressing that ‘’there is a renaissance of Jewish life in Hungary today.’’ ‘’This is something that we are proud of. We believe, we think that the renaissance of Jewish life is a substantial contribution to the common achievements of the Hungarian nation quite clearly,’’ he said.
It is the first time an Israeli Prime Minister visits Hungary since the fall of the Communism in the country in 1989.
In his statement, Orban said he discussed history with Netanyahu.
We also mentioned, touched upon history. Well, when you have a meeting of this sort, this is not something that is inevitable, but it’s also perhaps desirable that we discuss history.
“I told the Prime Minister that we are aware of the fact that we have quite a difficult chapter of history behind us. And I wanted to make it very clear to him that the government of Hungary, in a previous period, committed a mistake, even committed a sin, when it did not protect the Jewish citizens of Hungary,’’ he said.
‘’During World War II, this was something, a requirement that Hungary did not live up to, both morally or in other ways. And this is a sin, because we decided back then, instead of protecting the Jewish community, to collaborate with the Nazis.’’
‘’I made it very clear to the Prime Minister that this is something that can never, ever happen again, that the Hungarian government will in the future protect all its citizens,’’ the Hungarian Prime Minister stated.
Some 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Holocaust after being deported to Nazi death camps or in massacres on Hungarian soil.
Viktor Orban opened a controversy recently when he praised former Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy, who was directly responsible for introducing anti-Semitic legislation and the deportation of Jews during WWII.
Netanyahu said he raised with his Hungarian counterpart “concerns” about his recent praise for Horthy. ‘’I discussed with Prime Minister Orban the concerns that I heard raised from the Jewish community.’’
‘’He reassured me in unequivocal terms, just as he did now, publicly. I appreciate that. These are important words,’’ Netanyahu said.
In his statement, the Israeli Prime Minister also thanked Hungary for standing up for Israel in international forums. “You’ve done that time and again. We appreciate this stance, not only because it’s standing with Israel, but it’s also standing with the truth.”
‘’I believe that (French President) Emanuel Macron, whom I visited two days ago, said something very important. He said there’s a new anti-Semitism that is expressed in anti-Zionism, that is, in delegitimizing the one and only Jewish state. In many ways, Hungary is at the forefront of the states that are opposed to this anti-Jewish policy, and I welcome it. I express the appreciation of my government and the people, many people in Israel, for this.’’
Netanyahu also recakked that Hungary saw the birth of modern Zionism, the movement that led to the establishment of the modern Jewish state of Israel, as Theodor Herzl, was born in the country and envisioned the rebirth of the Jewish state.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu will meet the leaders of the Visegrad Group, a political alliance of four Central European countries: Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. He will also hold individual working meetings with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico.
Later, Netanyahu and Orban will attend an economic forum attended by dozens of Israeli companies and more than 100 Hungarian companies from the cyber, high-tech, agriculture, pharmaceutical and technology sectors.
On Wednesday, the two prime ministers will visit the Dohany Street Great Synagogue in Budapest and meet with Jewish community leaders.