Hungarian Premier Arrives in Israel, Becoming First to Visit Jewish State

Israel extended a warm welcome Tuesday to Jozsef Antall, the first prime minister of Hungary ever to come to the Jewish state.

Antall, accompanied by his wife, began his visit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, where he accepted the Righteous Gentile award conferred posthumously on his father, Dr. Jozsef Antall.

A Hungarian government official during World War II, the late Dr. Antall was arrested by the Nazis for aiding hundreds of Polish Jews who had fled into Hungary. The elder Antall had provided them with false papers.

The prime minister was himself arrested by the Soviets after they crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956.

Regarding other matters, he was scheduled to hold a news conference to discuss investment opportunities now opening in his country.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, in welcoming his guest at the Jerusalem Rose Garden, observed that “Hungary is now going through the difficult process of adapting its economy and society to liberalization and private enterprise.

“We are following this process with favor, and will in our own small way try to help Hungary to overcome the difficulties and meet the great challenge it faces.”

Shamir also noted that “today, one of the largest Jewish communities in central Europe resides in Hungary, and it enjoys full freedom and is integrated into all aspects of life.

“We value the efforts of the Hungarian government to openly combat anti-Semitism, and hope that it will succeed in completely uprooting it,” Shamir said.

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