(JTA) — A leader of Hungary’s anti-Semitic Jobbik party confessed to having Jewish origins, but Jewish leaders reacted to his statement dismissively.
"I learned not long ago that I had parents of Jewish origins," Csanad Szegedi, a member of the European parliament and regional leader of Jobbik, said in an interview with the daily Barikad.
Members of Jobbik have used anti-Semitic rhetoric repeatedly in the past.
"Knowing who is a pure-race Hungarian is not what counts. The important thing is the way one behaves as a Hungarian," he is quoted as saying.
Jozsef Horvath, former head of Maccabi Hungary and president of Budapest’s Beit Shalom synagogue, called Szegedi’s remarks "interesting."
"I will ask Holocaust survivors in my family if anyone inquired whether they behaved like Hungarians before they were rounded up to be sent to their deaths,” he told JTA.
Horvath added that many Hungarian Holocaust survivors who stayed in Hungary hid their Jewish identity.
“They wanted to put it all behind them, and being Jewish was not a good idea under communism,” he said.
Another Jobbik deputy recently made headlines after he asked a laboratory to test that he did not have Roma or Jewish genes.
A spokesperson for the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary said the umbrella group had no reaction to Szegedi’s interview.
Dr. Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF, the umbrella group of France’s Jewish community, reacted with dismissive irony to the news.
“We can but offer our sympathies in light of the terrible discovery,” Prasquier said. “In different circumstances, the appropriate solution would be hara-kiri [the Japanese suicidal form of disembowlment]. Having not chosen this option, the unfortunate Szegedi is forced to embark on philosophical pursuits superior to his intellectual capacity."