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Zero tolerance on anti-Semitism

In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom (“Israel Today”), Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that in Hungarian political life there is zero tolerance on anti-Semitism, and “we will never tolerate any kind of anti-Semitic approach to issues”.

In the interview – which appeared in an abridged version in the daily newspaper’s Friday print edition, and in full on its website – the Prime Minister stated that both the Hungarian right and the Jewish community need to invest energy in laying the foundations of mutual trust, because for historical reasons their relationship is difficult.

He told the newspaper that there are Members of Parliament who have made anti-Semitic gestures, and there are parties which have accepted these. “I cannot say that Jobbik is anti-Semitic as an entire party, but certain gestures, programmes, people and approaches which are clearly anti-Semitic are seen by them as acceptable”, he stated.

He added that he wants to make it clear that “in Hungarian political life there is a policy of zero tolerance on anti-Semitism”.

He said that a factor complicating relations with the Jewish community is that, disregarding the facts, “the communists and the left” regularly level accusations of anti-Semitism against even those who are clearly not anti-Semitic, and “According to accusations by the left, my political community, the Government and I, have anti-Semitic leanings”. The Prime Minister said that these accusations are unfair, and that “There are no facts to prove them, but they still keep making the accusations”.

In the interview the Prime Minister said he regards Miklós Horthy, Hungary’s interwar and wartime leader, as anti-Semitic. “I believe that a political elite which adopts laws differentiating between citizens in that way, based on their origins, has an anti-Semitic approach”, he said. He stated that Horthy committed an enormous crime, but some decades earlier it was he who saved the country, and neither of these facts can be denied.

Mr. Orbán said that his relationship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is based on mutual trust, and is something he greatly values. Their relationship goes back decades, he said, but the days Mr. Netanyahu spent in Budapest this week have raised it to a new level – one which is more personal and which has enabled them to better understand each other’s thoughts and ideas.

The Prime Minister also spoke about the similarities and differences arising from the two countries’ different situations, and described Israel’s approach to moderate Arab states as a shared European interest which may help to reduce the danger of migration threatening Europe.

Speaking about the Israel’s situation, the Prime Minister stressed the defence and security challenges which differ from those faced by Hungary, but he also mentioned the opportunities inherent in the stabilisation of the Middle East region. He also expressed his appreciation for the way in which Israel is facing the challenges of the global economy and its competitiveness in the field of modern technologies.