Hungary is one of the few countries in Europe where Jews can safely walk the streets, Israeli ambassador to Budapest Yacov Hadas-Handelsman told daily Magyar Nemzet in an interview . “I have been serving in Hungary for a year now, and I have been all over the county. I also know Europe well, so I can safely say that on the continent, Hungary is almost the only place where a practicing religious Jew can walk the streets freely without having to fear anything,” Havas-Handelsman said. The interview was occasioned by the recent scandal involving satirical party Two-Tailed Dog’s member and mayor of Budapest’s 9th district Krisztina Baranyi’s remarks about “stinking trash Jewish investors”.
Havas-Handelsman said the less spoken about the incident, the better. “I do not want to waste a lot of words on this so that such expressions do not receive unnecessary publicity. It is very simple, this wording has no place in the 21st century public discourse — especially in Europe, of course not in Hungary either — especially when we are talking about a public actor who needs to set a positive example in this regard,” he said. Asked about German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth’s allegations this summer about rising anti-Semitism in Hungary, the ambassador said the facts proved otherwise. “I like to base my opinion on facts. So let present you two facts. First of all, in the list of anti-Semitic attacks of the Jewish organization Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Hungary was in the last place among European countries. There have been a total of roughly 30 incidents in the country this year,” Havas-Handelsman said. “Of course, even a single case is one too many, but it does matter out of how many.” Regarding Iran’s hopes that as president, Joe Biden will likely resurrect the nuclear agreement with Iran, Havas-Handelsman pointed out that Iran cannot be trusted. “Take, for example, their missile program, the sole purpose of which is to attack Israel with a nuclear warhead. They already have missiles with which they could easily reach Budapest, and they are developing something with the help of North Korea that would put the United States in their crosshairs,” he said. “Here, of course, you can say that Israel is far away, this is not your problem. But I repeat, terrorism is expensive, so organizations linked to the Iranians, such as Lebanese Hezbollah, need a lot of money. And they do everything they can to get that money. Like ordinary criminals, they are involved in money laundering and drug trafficking, and these drugs can reach Europe, even your children.”
Title image: Israeli ambassador to Budapest Yacov Hadas-Handelsman. (source: embassies.gov.il/budapest)