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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid