Wiesenthal Centre to Hungarian Prime Minister: "We Endorse MAZSIHISZ JewishFederation's Decision to Stay Away from Government-Sponsored 2014 Holocaust Commemoration Programme

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"Domestically Holocaust and contemporary anti-Semitism are a function of political mortgages with the extreme right. Memory cannot serve as a fig leaf for hate."

Paris, 10 February 2014

In a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, the Simon
Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels noted that "last year, together with our Centre’s Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, we met in Budapest with your Deputy Prime Minister, Tibor Novrascis, to discuss the rising antisemitism in your country and the plans to mark 2014 as the 70th anniversary of the deportation of over half a million Hungarian Jews to their deaths. We heard apologies for Hungarian complicity in the Holocaust and welcomed details for educational commemorative activities throughout the year".

The letter cited "a December 2013 United States Mission to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Statement on Incidents and the earlier, June 2013 Brussels Institute/TEV Report on Antisemetic Hate Crimes and Incidents in Hungary, should have acted as a sobering call for government action".

Samuels stressed that, since then "our membership has been outraged

- the continuing rehabilitation of Miklos Horthy, the architect of Hungary’s Axis alliance and the overseer of the Jewish deportation, described by the historian of the Hungarian Jewish Holocaust, Randolph Braham, as a “catastrophe for Hungarian Jewry.”

- the refusal by world renowned pianist, Andras Schiff to perform in Budapest after the inauguration of a Horthy statue in the city’s centre.

- permits for marches granted freely to the ostensible successor to the
ostensibly banned Magyar Garda (Hungarian Guard, modelled on its Hitler Youth style wartime namesake).

- the growing influence of Jobbik, the third largest party in the Hungarian Parliament and present in the European Parliament. Its increasingly blatant antisemitism and Gypsophobia are encouraged by uncontested rallies bearing unadulterated swastikas, the latest planned for a synagogue venue.

- the recent ambiguous statement by Sandor Szakaly,
(Director of the newly government founded Veritas Institute) on the atrocity committed in the mass
murder of Hungarian Jews on Ukrainian territory.

- the mystification regarding the identities of those to be commemorated
by a planned monument to “the victims of the German occupation”, with the hanging question if this is an intended whitewash of Hungarian collaborators."

The Centre advised the Prime Minister that "in the context of the
above-listed events, the wonderful idea for a “House of Fates” (based on the Imre Kertesz Nobel Prize – winning book ‘Fatelessness’) and the announced theme focusing on “the Children’s Holocaust” would seem to be a figleaf for international opinion, while the Holocaust itself and contemporary antisemitism are left as a function of domestic politics and political mortgages with the extreme right."

The letter emphasised that, "in such circumstances the Simon Wiesenthal Centre can only applaud and endorse the decision by Mazsihisz – the representative body of Hungarian Jewry - 'to stay away' from the government-sponsored 2014 Holocaust commemoration programme until effective measures are taken to counter the above developments."

"Memory cannot serve as a fig leaf for hate," concluded Samuels.

For further information please contact Dr. Shimon Samuels on
00 (33) 609770158, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).