Hungarian Hanukkah greetings amid anti-semitic accusations

Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a letter greeted the Hungarian Jewish community to mark the start of Hanukkah, the prime minister’s press chief said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The cold days and long nights wake our desire for light and festivity,” the letter said. “The light of candles, increasing day by day, not only strengthens the feeling of belonging to family and community but proves the sustaining power of tradition and religion.”

The letter was sent to the heads of the Orthodox Jewish Community, the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, Jewish federation Mazsihisz and Jewish cultural foundation Mazsok. “As the prime minister of Hungary, I greet you all respectfully on the festivity of light and wish all members of the Hungarian Jewish community a blessed, peaceful Hanukkah”, the letter said.

Orban’s greeting is overshadowed by the fact that Fidesz lawmaker Janos Pocs recently posted a photo on Facebook, which can be interpreted as anti-semitic. On the photo residents of Hungarian town Jaszivany pose in a small town in Transylvania (Romania), smiling over a charred and slain pig. On the dead animal it was inscribed: “This was Soros!!!”

They were clearly referring to George Soros, though Pocs later denied that this would be the case. The international press picked up the story and several outlets thought that the photo is inciting anti-semitic sentiments. Several people are demanding Pocs’s resignation in Hungary: in addition to a number of public personalities, writers and philosophers Robert Schwarz, head of the Jewish community in Kolozsvar (Cluj, Romania). So far Viktor Orban has only reacted, “pig slaughter is not in the government’s competence”.

Jobbik also sent a Hanukkah greeting

Similarly to last year, the biggest opposition party Jobbik has also sent a Hanukkah greeting to the Jewish communities. The party’s press department told Hungarian news site HVG that they posted the greetings last week, and added that they will also greet the Christian churches for Christmas. But the pro-government Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation’s (EMIH) chief rabbi is not interested in Jobbik’s greeting. Slomo Koves rejected their gesture last year too, and several public figures of the Jewish community voiced discontent over EMIH’s attitude. Inside the Hungarian Jewish community EMIH is considered strongly connected to the government. But Slomo Koves said he considers Jobbik’s greeting dishonest, because the party was previously deemed “openly anti-semitic”.

Source: MTI/Hungary Journal

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