News / Europe

World Jewish Leaders Urge Crackdown on Far-Right

President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Ronald S Lauder delivers a speech in Budapest during the second day of the14th Plenary Assembly of World Jewish Congress, May 6, 2013.
President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Ronald S Lauder delivers a speech in Budapest during the second day of the14th Plenary Assembly of World Jewish Congress, May 6, 2013.
Reuters
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) urged Hungary on Tuesday to crack down on the far-right Jobbik party and called on governments in Europe to consider banning neo-Nazi parties threatening democracy and minority rights.

The WJC plenary assembly, held in the Hungarian capital rather than Jerusalem to highlight rising anti-Semitism in Hungary, passed a resolution saying Budapest must recognize that Jobbik poses "a fundamental threat to Hungary's democracy.

"Decisive action by all democratic forces against these contemporary expressions of extremism must now be taken," it said, adding a request that Prime Minister Viktor Orban sign an international declaration on combating anti-Semitism.

Jobbik, which openly vilifies Hungary's Roma minority and has accused Jews of buying up property to take over Hungary, has been a central issue at the three-day WJC assembly, which brought together Jewish leaders from about 100 countries.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech during the 14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest, May 5, 2013.Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech during the 14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest, May 5, 2013.
x
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech during the 14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest, May 5, 2013.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech during the 14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest, May 5, 2013.
Orban addressed the opening session of the assembly on Sunday evening, issuing a strong denunciation of anti-Semitism but avoiding any mention of Jobbik.

"He missed a golden opportunity," said WJC President Ronald Lauder, who while introducing Orban had specifically asked him to denounce the Populist Party.

Lauder later apologized, saying he had not been aware of comments made by Orban to the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth before the congress, in which the prime minister said Jobbik was a real danger to democracy.

"I want to put it on the record that the prime minister really did make a strong statement against Jobbik," Lauder said in his closing remarks to the congress.

Jobbik, which won 17 percent of the vote in the 2010 election and has 43 of the 368 seats in parliament, held an "anti-Zionist and anti-Bolshevik" rally in Budapest to protest against the WJC meeting being held in the Hungarian capital.

Orban's Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority in parliament, but has lost ground in opinion polls since it took power in 2010. It still has a strong opinion poll lead however and has a good chance of winning next year's election. Support for Jobbik meanwhile has hovered around 10 percent this year.

Greece and Germany

Robin Shepherd, author of a study for the WJC on neo-Nazi parties in Europe, told the assembly Fidesz was not anti-Semitic but it competed with Jobbik for votes among nationalists frustrated by the economy and resentful of foreign influence.

"If Orban goes too hard against Jobbik, he's worried he won't be able to scoop up Jobbik's voters," he said.

The assembly also debated the rise of far-right parties such as Golden Dawn in crisis-stricken Greece, which came from nowhere to win about seven percent in elections there last year.

Shepherd said support for Golden Dawn had risen in opinion polls since the election and the Athens government was so concerned about the country's economic crisis that it did not immediately respond to the challenge it presented.

David Saltiel, leader of the Greek Jewish community, agreed and told the assembly: "Our country was caught by surprise."

But Saltiel said the government, after lobbying by the WJC, had assured him it would soon pass a tough hate speech law that would outlaw incitement against people because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and impose up to six years in prison on offenders.

Parliamentary deputies would not be excluded, he said, and parties that receive public funding would see it suspended if their leaders publicly deny the Holocaust - which Golden Dawn leaders have done in the past.

"We think with this law, [Golden Dawn] will be brought back to the small numbers it had before," he said.

The resolution also urged Germany and other countries with neo-Nazi parties to consider banning them.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided not to seek a ban on the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) because it is not clear whether such a ban would be constitutional.

But the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament that represents the 16 federal states, has begun its own effort to ban the party, he said.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid