German Federal Minister of State for European Affairs Michael Roth has claimed that anti-Semitism is ‘rampant in Hungary, sparking a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó summoned Germany’s ambassador to Hungary over the remarks Roth made over the weekend in an interview, Szijjártó wrote on his Facebook page
“Because of yesterday’s remarks of German Social-Democrat state minister Michael Roth, in which he leveled accusations of anti-Semitism against Hungary, I have summoned Germany’s ambassador to Budapest to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Monday morning,” Szijjártó wrote.
He also added that Roth’s accusations allegations were completely unfounded:
“Dear Michael! Please allow me (since we have known each other for a long time, we are in a quarrelsome relationship) to draw your attention to the fact that the Jewish community in Hungary is safe, our Jewish compatriots do not have to be afraid, their cultural festivals do not need fully armed soldiers, synagogues and cemeteries we rebuilt it with public funding and were proud hosts of the European Maccabi Games last year,” Szijjártó wrote in another Facebook post. “Respectfully, please put an end to the unworthy attack of the Hungarian people, and if I may suggest it, before you next speak on such a serious subject, please make sure that your own house is in order.”
Szijjrtó was referring to an interview with Roth published by Germany’s largest news portal, t-online.de in which the German politician was speaking about Hungary and Poland distancing themselves from democracy.
In it, Roth said “One aspect that led to the Article 7 case against Hungary was rampant anti-Semitism in Hungary. I cannot speak critically about anti-Semitism in other countries without mentioning the appalling increase in anti-Semitic crimes in Germany.”
Compared to the rest of Europe, Hungary has remarkably low rates of anti-Semitic attacks, with data from just the past several years showing that Jews are far safer in Hungary than in many other major European countries. A report from the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) found that Hungary actually had the lowest rate of reported anti-Semitic incidents in the EU-12 countries, and also showed that reports of anti-Semitism were far lower in Hungary than in countries like France, Germany, Belgium.
Despite the German minister’s claims, anti-Semitic crimes are actually on the rise in Germany, with 1,268 recorded in 2010 compared to 2,032 in 2020.
Even German state media has pointed to an increase in anti-Semitism in the country. The country has also been accused of downplaying anti-Semitic attacks committed by Muslims. According to the Times of Israel:
In a 2016 survey of hundreds of German Jews who had experienced anti-Semitic incidents, 41 percent said the perpetrator was “someone with a Muslim extremist view” and another 16 percent said it was someone from the far left. Only 20 percent identified their aggressors as belonging to the far-right.
Earlier this year, a prominent member of Hungary’s Jewish community defended Hungary, saying Jews felt safe and that Jewish life was flourishing in Hungary despite media portrayals otherwise.
Szijjártó is currently on his first trip to China since the coronavirus outbreak and Deputy Minister Levente Magyar will meet with the German ambassador in his stead.
Title image: German Federal Minister of State for European Affairs Michael Roth. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)