(JTA) – Jewish groups backed the decision by the main Jewish umbrella group in Hungary to boycott official Holocaust memorial year events unless the government reverses policy seen as minimizing the country’s role in the Shoah.
The international Jewish organizations urged the Hungarian government to respond to Jewish concerns.
“The Jewish community’s decision to protest planned Holocaust memorial events is painful, but then the efforts of the Hungarian government to rewrite history are absolutely traumatic,” Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of International Jewish Affairs, said in a statement.
Baker urged on Prime Minister Viktor Orban to address the Jewish community’s concerns “without delay.”
On the 70th anniversary of the deportation of more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, he said, “the government has an opportunity to openly confront Hungary’s past and responsibility.”
The main Jewish umbrella group, Mazsihisz, said in a decision issued Sunday that it would “stay away” from the government’s Holocaust year events over plans to build a memorial to the German occupation, controversial remarks by the director of a government-sponsored research institute and the government’s refusal to share plans or involve Mazsihisz in building a second Holocaust museum in Budapest.
In a letter to Orban, Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, said the center ”can only applaud and endorse” the Mazsihisz decision to stay away from the state’s Holocaust commemoration program “until effective measures are taken” to counter those and other developments.
At the Mazsihisz General Assembly on Sunday, a letter from World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder was read aloud assuring the Hungarian Jewish community of the WJC’s solidarity and support. Lauder said the WJC would “support whatever decision Mazsihisz sees fit to take in this respect.”
He also expressed hope that the “controversial issues can be resolved by dialogue between Mazsihisz and the Hungarian government.”