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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid