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MIMC Organisation’s Reply to Ira Forman’s Charges against Hungary

A new article attacks the Hungarian government with charges of antisemitism, but the piece fails to prove its point.

Ira Forman, the US State Department’s envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism from 2013 to 2017, has written a piece for the Jerusalem Post, attacking Hungary, which was – again – full of faulty statements and misquotations.

Forman claims that the well-established fact that Hungarian Jewry suffers fewer antisemitic incidents than their coreligionists in Western Europe is a “talking point”. In fact, while, 2,700 anti-Semitic incidents took place in Germany last year alone, and anti-Semitic atrocities reached unprecedented levels in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, in Hungary the number of atrocities is below one hundred per year.

It is not only “some Israelis” who support Hungary, but current Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and previous PMs such as Naftali Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu have all thanked Hungary for its support for Israel.

Forman claims that according to the 2018 FRA survey, 40% of Hungarian Jews have thought about emigrating because of antisemitism. What he keeps silent about is that this number has reduced from 48% in 2012 to 40% in 2018, which is still below the numbers seen in some Western European countries: in Germany, the number grew from 25% in 2012 to 44% in 2018, in Belgium, from 40% to 42%, and in France, it is currently at 44%, having reduced from 46%. (See page 40 of this survey).

Contrary to what Forman writes, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán has never denied Hungary role in the Holocaust, and in fact said: “we have committed a sin, nay, a mistake”, in collaborating with the Nazis in 1944.

Forman claims that historian Mária Schmidt, one of the speakers at CPAC Hungary, is a Holocaust denier, while in reality, Schmidt has never denied the Holocaust, and is the author of one of the best accounts of the history of Budapest Jewish leadership during the Holocaust. On CPAC Hungary, see our previous statement here.

Contrary to what Foreman claims, the state-funded VERITAS Historical Insitute (VERITAS Történetkutató Intézet) has similarly never denied Hungary’s role in the Holocaust, and only recently they have issued an excellent account of the Holocaust in Southern Hungary which was well received in the Hungarian Jewish community as well.

Orbán has never used the “meme” of the “laughing Jew” in his campaign against Soros: Forman did not bring a single example of this and he would fail to do so, as Orbán never communicates with “memes” in social media.

Forman claims that Bálint Hóman, to whom some people wanted to erect a statue in Hungary, advocated for the deportations of Hungarian Jews in 1944: in reality, Hóman never did this, but did in fact shelter his Jewish colleagues during the Shoah and called on German ambassador Edmund Veesenmayer to leave the country after Hungary’s German occupation.

In 2018, the journal Figyelő ran a legitimate criticism on the corruption scandals of a Budapest Jewish leader, which was not antisemitic, but simple journalistic inquiry into the financial affairs of a major organization.

Altogether, Forman has failed to produce a single proper argument in his scourging of Hungary and his article should be ignored by all those interested in the current situation of Hungarian Jews.

Photo: Unsplash