Are you sure?

Jewish Congresses appeal to PM regarding “Hungarian Guard”

A few days before a dark chapter in Hungarian history is recalled by extremist interests, the World Jewish Congress and European Jewish Congress are appealing to prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány to stop a demonstration before it starts.

Right-wing political party Jobbik and its leader Gábor Vona have announced that August 25 – surely aware that the day is a Saturday – will see the swearing in of the “Hungarian Guard,” a troop of individuals armed to “protect” a Hungary that is without “physical, mental or spiritual self-defence.” The Jobbik president has declared the mission of the Hungarian Guard as one of “defending the citizens, nursing national traditions, taking care of war graves, and preparing the youth mentally and physically for every possible situation when citizen mobilization is needed.”

At the public demonstration, Jobbik plans for its 56 founding members to take an oath in uniform at the Buda Castle to defend Hungary, presumably along the lines of Vona’s ideology as quoted above. Vona and party members have claimed either 200 or 300 applicants desired to become members of the guard and that some 1,000 will make it legion by the end of the year.

The uniform this bunch will be wearing is an all-black ensemble replete with the red-and-white Árpád flag – a symbol seen frequently enough in controversial circumstances to have coined the term “Árpád flag hooliganism” – that is a dead ringer for the gear sported by the fascist Arrow Cross Party, the group chiefly responsible for exporting 400,000 Jewish people to concentration camps in 1944.

Yesterday, WJC president Ronald S. Lauder and EJC president Moshe Kantor released an open letter to Gyurcsány in reference to this “extremely alarming development.” Lauder and Kantor wrote that the Hungarian Guard concept is a danger to democracy itself. “We respectfully call upon you to do your urgent utmost to see to it that any political party which manifests expressions of hatred or bigotry is stopped,” they wrote.

Gyurcsány has yet to comment on the letter or on the proposed Jobbik demonstration itself, though some may remember the prime minister's statement at this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day observation on January 27: “The fight against forgetting [the Holocaust] is nothing less than a permanent effort against suppression, exclusion, discrimination and tyranny.”