European Jewish Congress
Netanyahu meets Hungary's Jewish leaders at Budapest synagogue
Hungary
Netanyahu meets Hungary's Jewish leaders at Budapest synagogue

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke to Jewish community leaders at the Dohanyi Synagogue in Budapest.

Netanyahu arrived at the synagogue in central Budapest, the headquarters of the Hungarian Jewish community, on Wednesday evening to unprecedented security. In addition to Hungarian police officers visible throughout the area where the synagogue is located, surrounding streets and squares were closed to the public, which also prevented tourists from visiting the city’s old Jewish Quarter area.

Netanyahu’s black Mercedes car rolled into the back courtyard of the Dohányi synagogue precisely at 8 p.m., where Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Andras Heisler, president of Mazsihisz/the Federation of the Hungarian Jewish Communities greeted Netanyahu and his wife.

Robert Frolich, the Chief Rabbi of the Dohányi Synagogue led the guests inside the synagogue building and showed them around. After a short walk inside of the synagogue the Israeli prime minister accompanied by Orban and Heisler paid tribute at the ‘Emmanuel Memorial Tree’ remembering the Hungarian Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The memorial is in the form of a weeping willow tree, where the names and dates of the Holocaust victims are engraved into the silver leaves of the tree. The Emanuel memorial was named after the father of the late American actor, Tony Curtis, whose Jewish family once lived in Hungary.

In his speech, Heisler emphasised that “the relationship between the Jews and the Hungarian government is good, but there are always disturbing things, like the issue of the unpaid Jewish compensation, or restitution, and also the recent propaganda-campaign provoking antisemitism.”

Heisler praised Orban for telling reporters on Tuesday that he would see to it that the country’s Jews are protected. “It is OK what Prime Minister Orban said, that they will defend us, Hungarian Jews, but it would be even better if there were no hatred in the Hungarian society towards us,” he said, adding: “We want to be proud Hungarian Jews, whose majority want to live and stay here.”

Heisler said the country’s Jews “felt as if a cold shower was poured on us, when Netanyahu ordered the withdrawal of the Israeli ambassador’s condemnation of the (anti-Soros) poster campaign.  He called on Netanyahu “to help to enforce the Diaspora! We want to support Israel being proud Jews at the same time”.

Netanyahu in his address invoked Theodor Herzl, who was born in Budapest, referring to the spiritual father of Zionism as the “Modern Moses of Israel.”

He praised Orban for organising the Visegrad meeting and thanked his Hungarian counterpart for standing up for Israel the international political arena, He also said he appreciated Orban’s words the previous day, in which he spoke out against previous Hungarian governments involvement with the Nazi regime.

Some in the Jewish audience rejected Netanyahu’s praise of Orban, who a few weeks ago just praised Gov. Micklos Horthy, the war-time collaborator with Adolf Hitler, who made possible the deportation of Hungarian Jews and sent half a million Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. There was no mention of the words and no regret expressed.

“I liked Heisler’s speech, but I was not impressed by the speeches of Orban and Netanyahu,” one Jewish leader told the JTA, “unfortunately both prime ministers did not pay attention and did not reflect on any of the suggestions of President Heisler.”

 Click here to read the full article in Cleveland Jewish News

Friday, July 21, 2017
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