Yacov Hadas-Handelsman, the Israeli ambassador in Budapest, has defended Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following an anti-Semitic slur directed at him last month by the far-right Jobbik party leader Márton Gyöngyösi.
“This is but further evidence regarding the true nature of Jobbik,” Hadas-Handelsman told daily Magyar Nemzet. The newspaper asked the Israeli ambassador for comment after other press reports unearthed an e-mail exchange between Gyöngyösi and János Stummer, then vice-president of Jobbik.
In it, Gyöngyüsi wrote, “I did not want to comment directly on Orbán’s provocative remark, but rather indirectly, through criticism and condemnation of the U.S. action. I would have preferred to write that he was a Zionist mercenary, a prisoner of the Lubavitch sect, but I am not sure I would have gotten away with that.”
At the time, the Jobbik leadership was discussing the position to be taken in their statement on “the situation in Iran.” The context was the U.S. assassination in 2020 of Iranian spy chief, Kashim Suleymani.
Magyar Nemzet also asked the U.S. ambassador to Budapest, David Pressman, for comment, but he did not respond.
Márton Gyöngyösi became famous for his anti-Semitic statements
This is not the first time the Jobbik chairman has made anti-Semitic statements. In 2012, he called for a list of Jewish MPs in the Hungarian parliament. He said that it was time to make a list of “how many people of Jewish origin living here, and especially in the Hungarian parliament and the Hungarian government, pose a certain national security risk to Hungary.”
Gyöngyösi, however, has not backed down in recent years. At a public forum a few years ago, the Jobbik leader said that “every single citizen” of Israel walking freely around the world is a “national security risk.”