BUDAPEST (Nov. 11)
A defensive Hungarian foreign minister asserted this week that “the more anti-Semitism is mentioned, the more difficult it is to smooth the problem.”
Geza Jeszensky was responding to American Jewish leaders who urged forceful condemnation by the government of slurs against the Jews voiced by a prominent leader of the Hungarian ruling party.
The meeting with a delegation of the American Jewish Committee here came amid growing international focus on the anti-Semitic utterances of a vice president of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, Istvan Csurka.
Jeszensky, who said he plans to visit Israel soon, urged an attitude of tolerance toward Csurka, who last August published an anti-Semitic tract in the party newspaper and has spoken out in his weekly Sunday radio program against what he sees as undue Jewish influence in various spheres.
“The only way to solve this problem is to not to exaggerate it, but to show Csurka the error of his ways,” the foreign minister told reporters after meeting with the American Jewish leaders.
The group discussed with Jeszensky various Hungarian positions at the United Nations with respect to Israel, according to the delegation’s head, Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of European Affairs at the AJCommittee.
Baker said his group was on a fact-finding mission to ascertain how the 100,000-strong Jewish community in Hungary, the largest in Central Europe, copes with bigotry and prejudice in the post-communist era.
The eight mission members were to meet Thursday with Jewish communal leaders in Budapest before going on visit the Jewish communities in Belarus and Latvia.