Tony Greenstein | 25 August 2012 | Post Views:

Associated Press/Bela Szandelszky, File photo dated
on June 7, 2009 shows Hungary’s far right party, Jobbik’s, Csanad
Szegedi, left, and Krisztina Morvai, right, celebrating their entry into the European Parliament after the European parliamentary election in
Budapest, Hungary. Szegedi, who was notorious for his incendiary
comments on Jews, acknowledged in June that his grandparents on his
mother’s side were Jews. After resigning last month from all his party
positions he was also asked by Jobbik to give up his seat in the
European Parliament as well.

Hungary far-right leader discovers Jewish roots

How touching – another anti-Semitic
fascist finds he is Jewish!  Reinhard
Heydrich was also suspected of the same, though that did not stop him being the
engineer of the final solution (Reitlinger) until he was assassinated.

Tony Greenstein
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — As
a rising star in Hungary’s
far-right Jobbik Party, Csanad Szegedi was notorious for his incendiary
comments on Jews: He accused them of “buying up” the country, railed
about the “Jewishness” of the political elite and claimed Jews were
desecrating national symbols.
Then came a revelation that knocked him
off his perch as ultra-nationalist standard-bearer: Szegedi himself is a Jew.
Following weeks of Internet rumors,
Szegedi acknowledged in June that his grandparents on his mother’s side were
Jews — making him one too under Jewish law, even though he doesn’t practice the
faith. His grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor and his grandfather a veteran
of forced labor camps.
Since then, the 30-year-old has become a
pariah in Jobbik and his political career is on the brink of collapse. He
declined to be interviewed for this story.

At the root of the drama is an audio tape of a 2010 meeting between Szegedi
and a convicted felon. Szegedi acknowledges that the meeting took place but
contends the tape was altered in unspecified ways; Jobbik considers it real.

In the recording, the felon is heard confronting Szegedi with evidence of
his Jewish roots. Szegedi sounds surprised, then offers money and favors in
exchange for keeping quiet.

Under pressure, Szegedi resigned last month from all party positions and
gave up his Jobbik membership. That wasn’t good enough for the party: Last week
it asked him to give up his seat in the European Parliament as well. Jobbik
says its issue is the suspected bribery, not his Jewish roots.

Szegedi came to prominence in 2007 as a
founding member of the Hungarian Guard, a group whose black uniforms and
striped flags recalled the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party which briefly governed
Hungary at the end of World War II and killed thousands of Jews. In all,
550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Holocaust, most of them after
being sent in trains to death camps like Auschwitz. The Hungarian Guard was
banned by the courts in 2009.
By then, Szegedi had already joined the
Jobbik Party, which was launched in 2003 to become the country’s biggest
far-right political force. He soon became one of its most vocal and visible
members, and a pillar of the party leadership. Since 2009, he has served in the
European Parliament in Brussels as one of the party’s three EU lawmakers, a
position he says he wants to keep.

The fallout of Szegedi’s ancestry saga has extended to his business
interests. Jobbik executive director Gabor Szabo is pulling out of an Internet
site selling nationalist Hungarian merchandise that he owns with Szegedi. Szabo
said his sister has resigned as Szegedi’s personal assistant.
In the 2010 tape, former convict Zoltan Ambrus is heard telling Szegedi that
he has documents proving Szegedi is Jewish. The right-wing politician seems
genuinely surprised by the news — and offers EU funds and a possible EU job to
Ambrus to hush it up.

Ambrus, who served time in prison on a weapons and explosives conviction,
apparently rejected the bribes. He said he secretly taped the conversation as
part of an internal Jobbik power struggle aimed at ousting Szegedi from a local
party leadership post. The party’s reaction was swift.
“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’s experience is not unique: The Holocaust was a taboo subject during
Hungary’s decades of communist rule that ended in 1990, and many survivors
chose to keep their ordeals to themselves. Russian far-right firebrand Vladimir
Zhirinovsky was anti-Semitic until he acknowledged in 2001 that his father was

Szegedi, who was raised Presbyterian, acknowledged his Jewish origins in
June interviews with Hungarian media, including news broadcaster Hir TV and
Barikad, Jobbik’s weekly magazine. He said that after the meeting with Ambrus,
he had a long conversation with his grandmother, who spoke about her family’s
past as Orthodox Jews.

“It was then that it dawned on me that my grandmother really is
Jewish,” Szegedi told Hir TV. “I asked her how the deportations
happened. She was in Auschwitz and Dachau and she was the only survivor in the
extended family.”

Judaism is traced from mother to child, meaning that under Jewish law
Szegedi is Jewish. Szegedi said he defines himself as someone with
“ancestry of Jewish origin — because I declare myself 100 percent

In the interview with Hir TV, Szegedi
denied ever having made anti-Semitic statements, but several of his speeches
and media appearances show otherwise.

In a November 2010 interview on Hungarian state television, Szegedi blamed
the large-scale privatization of state assets after the end of communism on
people in the Hungarian political elite who shielded themselves in their

Speaking on a morning program in late 2010, he said that “the problem
the radical right has with the Jews” was that Jewish artists, actors and
intellectuals had desecrated Hungary’s national symbols like the Holy Crown of
St. Stephen, the country’s first Christian king.

Szegedi also complained of “massive
real estate purchases being done in Hungary, where — it’s no secret — they want
to bring in Israeli residents.”
Szegedi met in early August with Rabbi
Slomo Koves, of Hungary’s Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch community, whose own
parents were in their teens when they discovered they were Jewish.
“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,”
Koves said.
During the meeting, Szegedi apologized
for any statements which may have offended the Jewish community, and vowed to
visit Auschwitz to pay his respects.
Koves described the conversation as
“difficult and spiritually stressful,” but said he is hopeful for a successful
Csanad Szegedi is in the middle of
a difficult process of reparation, self-knowledge, re-evaluation and learning,
which according to our hopes and interests, should conclude in a positive
Koves said. “Whether this will occur or not is first and
foremost up to him.”

Posted in

Tony Greenstein

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.