Hungary’s prime minister says World Jewish Congress head has left-wing agenda
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Hungary’s prime minister says World Jewish Congress head has left-wing agenda

Victor Orban accuses Ronald Lauder of applying a ‘clear left-wing and liberal bias’ for demanding he condemn an anti-Semitic image in a pro-government magazine

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (C) visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on July 20, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (C) visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on July 20, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban accused Ronald Lauder of having a left-wing political agenda after the World Jewish Congress president demanded that he condemn an anti-Semitic image in a pro-government magazine.

The picture in the Figyelo weekly depicted Andras Heisler, who heads Hungary’s largest Jewish group, surrounded by money.

“I am surprised however 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,” Orban wrote to Lauder, accusing him 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.”

Chairman of the World Jewish Congress, Ron Lauder speaks during the 6th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism conference at the Jerusalem Convention Center, on March 19, 2017 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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 Lauder wrote in a letter to Orban last Friday.

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, according to the AFP news service. Mazsihisz denies the allegation.

The cover of Hungarian magazine ‘Figyelo’ (Attention) with a portrait of Andras Heisler, head of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) is pictured on November 30, 2018, in Budapest. Hungary’s largest Jewish organization has condemned ‘incitement’ against its leader after he was depicted on the cover of a prominent pro-government weekly surrounded by banknotes. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP)

 

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