‘Respectful and honest’ meeting between Board of Deputies and Hungarian minister

‘Respectful and honest’ meeting between Board of Deputies and Hungarian minister

Jewish representatives met with Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky to discuss a 'number of longstanding concerns' relating to the country's community

Marie van der Zyl
Marie van der Zyl

The Board of Deputies has said its meeting with a senior Hungarian official this week was “respectful and honest,” two weeks after registering the British Jewish community’s “profound disquiet” at the situation in the country.

Board President Marie van der Zyl met Hungarian Secretary of State Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky to discuss a range of concerns, including recent magazine front covers portraying Hungary’s Jewish community leader showering in cash.

She said she raised “a number of longstanding concerns” including the use of antisemitic tropes in relation to the Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist George Soros, whose democracy foundation has been a staunch critic of right-wing Hungarian premier Viktor Orban.

She also said she challenged the Hungarian government’s remarks about Muslims and migrants, its “moves to downplay the role of historical Hungarian leaders in supporting the Holocaust,” the threatened closure of the Aurora Jewish community centre, and relations between the Government and the Jewish community.

“In particular, we were clear that while it might be legitimate to have a range of opinions about the causes supported by George Soros, some of the language used against Mr Soros by Prime Minister Orban and others, whether intentionally or not, represent the oldest antisemitic tropes and this has to stop.”

She added that “a clear test on the Hungarian Government’s goodwill on the subject of the history of the Holocaust will be whether the new museum, the House of Fates, can command the support of the mainstream Hungarian Jewish community”.

Orban’s Government has adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, built strong bilateral relations with Israel and invested in the forthcoming Maccabi Games in Budapest.

Read more: Hungary’s UK Ambassador Szalay-Bobrovniczky: Your report was a betrayal of Hungary’s good work

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