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July 4, 2012 5:26 pm

Hungarian Neo-Nazi Apologist Challenges Chabad Rabbi To Debate

avatar by Atara Arbesfeld

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Hungarian guard members at a Jobbik party demostration in Budapest, August 2007. Photo: AFP

Just a few days after a far-right Hungarian politician discovered his Jewish roots, a co-member of his political party challenged a rabbi to a debate.

Gabor Vona, the challenger, is the leader of Jobbik, a Hungarian nationalist party that has developed a reputation for anti-Semitic sentiment due to several comments from its parliament members.  The debate with Rabbi Shlomo Koves, the Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Congregation, would focus on “the issue of anti-Semitism in Hungary,” and appears to be an attempt to clear Jobbik of its anti-Jewish reputation. Gabor claims that Jobbik is only “pro-Hungarian.”

“Jobbik has never had and will never have any program point, proposal or idea which discriminates between Hungary’s inhabitants on the grounds of ethnicity and religion,” Vona told the Hungarian political news site Politics.hu.

However, numerous statements from other Jobbik members suggest otherwise. According to 2009 article in Haaretz, Judit Szima, a Jobbik candidate for the European Union in 2009, wrote in a newsletter: “Anti-Semitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews.”

Last week Jobbik member Csanad Szegedi confessed to finding out that his parents were “or Jewish origins.” Szegedi has been quoted in the past using anti-Semitic apologist rhetoric. “Knowing who is a pure-race Hungarian is not what counts,” he once said. “The important thing is the way one behaves as a Hungarian.”

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