Partners in hate crime
Antiracists and anti-fascists responded speedily to news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be welcoming his Hungarian counterpart, Europe’s most Islamophobic, anti-migrant leader, for a cosy chat at 10 Downing Street. At less than 48 hours notice, Stand Up To Racism called a protest and contacted Jewish, Muslim and Gypsy Roma Traveller groups here, mirroring the communities Orbán has targeted in Hungary. On the eve of his visit, the Jewish Socialists’ Group organised a twitterstorm exposing Orbán and criticising Johnson’s invitation. Roma, Muslim and Jewish activists and other antiracists spoke at the protest. Here is the speech made by ROB FERGUSON, who is descended from Hungarian Jews.
Viktor Orbán is an icon of the far right across the globe. He arrived long before Donald Trump rose to pollute twitter. He champions a far-right vision of white Christian Europe threatened by Muslim invaders and Jewish financiers. The 2018 election was waged on the most antisemitic political campaign in Europe since the Nazi era.
Every bus stop, metro, village billboard was plastered with posters of a grinning George Soros clutching bolt cutters to cut the steel fences Orbán had ordered to keep out fleeing refugees from the killing grounds of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The slogan of the election was “Stop the Soros Plan!” This is to deliberately invoke the conspiracy of “The Great Replacement” and “White Genocide”, which he knows his audience will recognise, not only in Hungary but across the far right internationally. This is the conspiracy theory that white Christian culture is threatened by “globalists”, by Jewish finance seeking to replace white Europe with Muslim invaders and impose the rule of Islam, to undermine the white birth rate with “gender ideology” – promoting feminism, abortion rights, LGBTQ and trans rights – and fostering Roma “crime”.
In 2009, Oszkár Molnár, of the governing Fidesz, accused pregnant Romani women of inducing birth defects by hitting their bellies with a hammer, so they could give birth to “fools to receive higher family subsidies”.This is the same ideology that drove Anders Brevik’s massacre of young socialist youth at the summer camp of Utoya in Norway in 2011, the neo-Nazi killers of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, of Christchurch, Halle, El Paso and the “Unite the Right” marchers at Charlottesville who shouted: “The Jews shall not Replace Us”. These forces do not arise from nowhere. They are legitimised, their hatred and violence fed by the Orbáns and the Trumps.
Orbán is a historical revisionist. He seeks to rehabilitate the regime of Nazi ally, the pre-war antisemite, Admiral Horthy, and to portray the Hungarian state as the victim of the Nazis and wipe out its role as a key collaborator in the Holocaust.
My mother reached Britain before the war. My grandfather, on the eve of war, desperately tried to bring out my grandmother, aunt and other family members. From 14th May to 9th July 1944, 435,000 Hungarian Jews were transported in 147 trains to Auschwitz; 80% were gassed as the smoke billowed from the crematoria, day and night. On this day, 28th May 1944, 963 Jews were transferred from Auschwitz to Mauthausen concentration camp for medical experimentation. It was the height of the Nazi Holocaust. They were rounded up by the Hungarian state, by Hungarian police, Hungarian civil servants and Hungarian officials; 95% of provincial Jewry in Hungary perished. One in two Jews in Budapest. All under the Horthy regime. And this is the foul tradition that Orbán and his government seek to rehabilitate. Erecting statues to Horthy, removing Jewish national poets from the curriculum and replacing them with antisemites.
And Johnson and the Conservative Party welcome this foul antisemite and Islamophobe to Britain, insisting mutual co-operation is in Britain’s vital interests. Not in mine; not for my aunt; not for Muslim, Roma, women, LGBT and trans. The Viktor Orbáns of this world are a reminder of the authoritarian reactionary rulers of Europe of the 1930s who provided the ideological terrain upon which fascism was able to grow. Johnson’s predecessors welcomed those rulers then as he does now.
I want to thank every one of you today. This is not the biggest protest, but it’s politically vitally important. We have to sew political opposition to this foul politics rising across Europe into the antiracist movement.
Jewish Socialist comment
Who spoke out and who didn't?
You might have expected that leading Jewish community organisations, such as the Board of Deputies (BoD) and the Community Security Trust (CST), who are not usually coy when it comes to exposing and challenging antisemitism, to have had sharp words of condemnation when the British Government welcomes a man who has been rehabilitating the reputation of Hitler’s Hungarian collaborator, Admiral Horthy. Even more so, as these same Jewish organisations endured deep embarrassment earlier in May when far-right guru, Tommy Robinson, turned up with menacing looking friends at the “Solidarity with Israel” demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy. The President of the Board of Deputies was a prominent guest speaker, and the CST ran the security.
These bodies could have tried to clean up their tarnished reputation by issuing a strong denunciation of Orbán’s visit and condemnation of Johnson, but it’s a little awkward. Orbán has perfected the art of being antisemitic (alongside other bigotries) while being full of praise for the Israeli Government. The BoD can hardly claim to be unaware of Johnson’s record of stereotyping Africans and making deeply racist comments about Muslims, not to mention his 2005 novel that was replete with antisemitic stereotypes.
No, they never do mention that 2005 novel. But Johnson was full of love for the government of Israel, led, until recently, by Benjamin Netanyahu. Whether that was the reason for their lack of condemnation, we don’t know, but they have remained shamefully silent on Orbán’s meeting with Johnson.
Not a peep either from Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, a supporter of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, who had (ab)used the authority of his (unelected) office shortly before the 2019 General Election to denounce Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour, thereby aiding the racist Boris Johnson’s victory. Rabbi Mirvis claimed at the time that it was his “moral duty” to denounce Corbyn. His silence over the Johnson-Orbán meeting speaks volumes.
Posted: 3 August 2021 | Published in: Jewish Socialist No 75