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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid