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.”
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.