Lauder to Orban: Condemn anti-Semitic image on Hungarian pro-government magazine cover

(JTA) – The head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to publicly condemn an anti-Semitic image on the cover of a pro-government magazine.

A picture of Hungarian Jewish leader Andras Heisler, head of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz, the country’s largest Jewish group, surrounded by money was published late last week on the front page of the Figyelo weekly.

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. The timing of this is especially critical because people in the United States, and elsewhere, are paying greater attention to the upsurge in anti-Semitism throughout Europe and, especially, in Hungary,” WJC President Ronald Lauder wrote in a letter to Orban on Sunday.

The letter also said: “While I understand and respect the boundaries of a free press, I believe your strong, public condemnation of this very clear attack on all Jewish people, would not just distance you, personally, from this most disgusting hatred, worthy of the Nazi era, but it would also place your government and all of Hungary in a better light.”

The magazine accuses Heisler and Mazsihisz of accounting irregularities in connection with a state-funded synagogue renovation project in Budapest including a Jewish museum, according to the AFP news service. Mazsihisz denies the allegation.

Orban’s government had an open row with Mazsihisz, over a statue unveiled in Budapest in 2014. Devoted to the Nazi occupation, it shows an angel being attacked by an eagle. Mazsihisz said it whitewashes Hungarian complicity in the Holocaust.

Orban has consistently rejected this interpretation and has repeatedly vowed to take an active stance against anti-Semitism.

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