World Jewish leaders urge crackdown on far-right in Europe

May 7, 2013

(An Orthodox Jewish man sits outside the building where the 14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress is taking place, in Budapest May 5, 2013.  REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh)

The World Jewish Congress 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 recognise 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.

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 apologised, 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.

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