Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry

Recent Developments


10/7/2013- "An influential group defending the rights of gypsies, also known as Roma, has welcomed a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that banning a Hungarian "far-right, anti-Roma and anti-Semitic" paramilitary group is lawful. The Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) told BosNewsLife that it was involved in the case "as a third party" to support the decision by a Hungarian court to forbid the Magyar Gárda, or 'Hungarian Guard' Association, whose members marched through Roma villages in uniforms and carrying flags resembling the Nazi-era. Hungarian Guard activists also attacked Jews and their marches added to anxiety among especially elderly Hungarian Holocaust survivors, who still recalled Hungarian fascists sending them to Nazi death camps during World War Two. Some 600,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust as well as thousands ofRoma. 

Gábor Vona, chairman of the Hungarian Guard Association and current leader of the far-right Movement For a Better Hungary (Jobbik) party, had asked Europe's top court to overturn the ban, saying it "violated" his "freedom of assembly under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights." But in its Chamber judgment on Tuesday, July 9, the ECHR concluded that forbidding the Hungarian Guard did not violate Article 11 as its activities included paramilitary rallies in villages with large Romani populations and advocacy for racially-motivated policies. They reportedly also intimidated Roma acrossHungaryviolating their human rights. 

Preventive Measures
The Hungarian "State is entitled to take preventive measures to protect democracy…if a sufficiently imminent prejudice to the rights of others undermines the fundamental values upon which a democratic society rests and functions," the ECHR added in its ruling. "One of such values is the cohabitation ofmembers of society without racial segregation, without which a democratic society is inconceivable.” ERRC's Executive Director Dezideriu Gergely told BosNewsLife that "Today’s decision reinforces thefact that Roma enjoy protection of their security, and that the activities to keep ‘Gypsy criminality’ at bay were racist in essence.” The official said, "We fully support the opinion in the judgment that the use of the expression ‘Gypsy crime’ - which suggests that there is a link between crime and a certain ethnicity - constitutes a racist form of speech intended to fuel feelings of hatred against the Roma." In 2007, the Budapest Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched a court action seeking the dissolution of the Hungarian Guard Association saying that "intimidating Roma" was an integral part of the group and an "abuse of the right to freedom of assembly." 

Domestic Courts
Hungarian courts agreed and dissolved the organization, prompting Chairman Vona's complaint to the ECHR. ERRC investigators said they successfully convinced the EHRC to uphold the ban by taking "into account attitudes towards racism in a democratic society and discrimination against Roma, among others, when it considers restricting freedoms of association and assembly, guaranteed under Article 11." The ERRC referred to international law, signed by Hungary, which mandates "the prevention ofracial hatred by states." The group also presented material on reported discrimination against Roma inHungary and other countries and argued that minorities, especially Roma, "enjoy special protection under Article 14" of the European Convention on Human Rights. There are believed to be up to 750,000 Roma people living in Hungary, just over seven percent of Hungary's nearly 10 million population. Exactfigures are difficult to get as many decline to reveal their ethnic origin amid fears of discrimination, researchers say."

Taken from: BosNewsLife http://www.bosnewslife.com/

Court finds Fidesz co-founder guilty of anti-Semitism

1 July, 2013- "Hungary’s Supreme Court, the Kúria, has ruled that right-wing polemicist and founder member of the ruling Fidesz party, Zsolt Bayer had made anti-Semitic remarks in a January 2011 column in the Magyar Hírlap newspaper.

Bayer’s characteristically crude diatribe had been aimed at UK journalist Nick Cohen, French MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit and pianist András Schiff, all of whom had recently criticised Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a close friend of Bayer.

He wrote of “someone calling himself Cohen, a stinking excrement from somewhere in England; Cohen, and Cohn-Bendit, and Schiff”, before continuing at length in a similar vein.

Klubrádió presenter György Bolgár and Péter Feldmájer, then president of Jewish umbrella group Mazsihisz, were among many who publicly condemned Bayer for anti-Semitism, the latter calling the article “anti-Jewish incitement”.

Bayer denied his piece was anti-Semitic and sued for defamation. His petition was initially turned down by Budapest Municipal Court but that decision was reversed by a court of appeal. The Kúria has now stated that the piece was indeed anti-Semitic.

As of Thursday, Bayer’s article was still online on Magyar Hírlap’s website."

Taken from:http://www.eurojewcong.org/hungary/9745-court-finds-fidesz-co-founder-guilty-of-anti-semitism.html


28/6/2013- "Rejecting a defamation suit, Hungary’s highest court found that a cofounder of the country’s ruling party had made anti-Semitic statements. In the June 26 ruling, the Kúria, Hungary’s highest judicial body, rejected a libel suit by Zsolt Bayer, a columnist and one of the cofounders of the Fidesz center-right ruling party. Bayer sued the radio station Klubrádió and Peter Feldmajer, the former president of the Mazsihisz, the Hungarian Jewish umbrella organization, following the airing of an interview in which Feldmajer said Bayer had made anti-Semitic comments. In 2011, Bayer published an article on in the newspaper Magyar Hírlap, decrying what he described as foreign influence in Hungary. He referred to such people as “human excrement named something like Cohen.” The high court said the language was “by logic” anti-Semitic and offensive. Bayer was appealing an earlier ruling against his lawsuit. 

More recently, Bayer wrote in the Jan. 5 edition of Magyar Hirlap that Roma “are not suitable for being among people. Most are animals, and behave like animals. They shouldn’t be tolerated or understood, but stamped out. Animals should not exist. In no way.” Amid calls urging Fidesz to distance itself from Bayer, party spokeswoman Gabriella Selmeczi said at a news conference Jan. 8 that the party would not take a position on the basis of an opinion piece. Fidesz has condemned the ultranationalist opposition Jobbik Party for its anti-Semitism, but Jewish leaders and U.S. officials have said that the rejection ofthe phenomenon by the parry and its leaders has not been forceful enough."
© The Forward http://www.forward.com/

Hungary orders Holocaust denier to visit Auschwitz By NISSAN TZUR JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT.

"KRAKOW– 02 March 2013- A court in Hungary ordered a Holocaust denier to serve a most unconventional punishment. He was instructed to visit either the Budapest Holocaust memorial center, the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp or the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel. Gyorgy Nagy, a 42-year-old unemployed computer technician, is the first Hungarian convicted under the country’s Holocaust denial law, which came into effect in February 2010. The court also gave him an 18- month suspended jail sentence. If Nagy chooses to visit the local Holocaust memorial center, he will have to visit the place three times, and write down his thoughts and observations after his visits in order to complete his sentence. Nagy was arrested at a political rally in Budapest in 2011 when the local police read on the banner he was holding: “The Shoah didn’t happen.”Holocaust denial is a crime in Hungary punishable by a maximum three-year sentence.The law criminalizing it was submitted by Attila Mesterhazy, chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party. The law passed two years ago 197-1 with 142 abstentions.Earlier attempts to ban Holocaust denial were rejected by the Hungarian courts for infringing on freedom of speech.Despite the new law, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been sharply criticized recently by many world Jewish organizations for pandering to nationalists and tolerating anti-Semitism. In one of the most notable cases, Orban’s government was accused of approving the naming of a park in Gyomro, a small town on the outskirts of Budapest, after Miklos Horthy, the country’s wartime leader and a close ally of Adolf Hitler.Orban was also accused for not condemning the anti-Semitic statements made in recent months by some members of the far-right Jobbik party, including a call to count the number of the Jews living in the country “and who represent a hazard for national security” and the demand for the resignation of Hungarians MP’s with both Hungarian and Israeli citizenship.Last June, Elie Wiesel, Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust survivor, returned Hungary’s highest state honor, the Grand Cross, accusing Hungary of “whitewashing” its history and its collaboration with the Nazis."

Taken from: http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=301996

 ADL Welcomes Hungary’s Action To Punish Hate Speech In Its Parliament

New York, NY, December 20, 2012 – “The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the Hungarian government’s approval of an amendment laying the groundwork to hold members of parliament accountable for hateful remarks.The approval by Hungary’s parliament came in the wake of anti-Semitic statements made by Márton Gyöngyösi of the neo-Nazi Jobbik party, who stated on the floor of the parliament that “it is high time to assess how many MPs and government members are of Jewish origin and who present a national security risk to Hungary.”His remarks were subsequently condemned by Prime Minister H.E. Viktor Orbán and State Secretary Peter Szijjarto.“We recognize that the line separating hate speech from legitimate political speech is not always clear and trust that these new authorities will not be misused to punish statements of opposing political views,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  “However, if the new law is to be an effective tool, all hate speech should be sanctioned if it targets individuals or groups based on their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.“The value of the new authorities granted to the Speaker of the parliament will depend, of course, on the manner in which they are implemented,” Mr. Foxman wrote.In November, ADL sent a letter to Prime Minister Orbán, expressing concern over the comments made in parliament and urged the Hungarian government to take appropriate action against flagrant hate speech.State Secretary Szijjarto later responded to the League’s letter stating that the Prime Minister “reassured members of the Jewish community in Hungary that the government will protect them from any despicable attacks and will guarantee their safety.”Earlier this year, ADL conducted a poll which showed anti-Semitic attitudes in ten European countries remained at disturbingly high levels, including Hungary, where the level rose to 63 percent of its population, compared to 47 percent in 2009.”

Taken from: http://www.adl.org/press-center/press-releases/anti-semitism-international/adl-welcomes-hungarys-action.html