In a move welcomed by a visiting U.S. congressman, the ruling Hungarian party has called for the resignation of one of its top officials known for anti- Semitic diatribes.
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) said he is “very pleased” by the sentiment that led the presidium of the center-right Hungarian Democratic Forum to call last week for the resignation of Istvan Csurka, who is vice president of the party.
It is an indication, Lantos said, of an understanding across the Hungarian political spectrum that “there is no longer any difference between domestic and international issues.”
Anti-Semitism in Hungary has come under increasing international focus since Csurka published a report blaming national ills on liberals, Jews, Western financiers and the press.
He has also published articles blasting Jews in the newspaper of the ruling party, and has made inflammatory statements in his regularly scheduled Sunday radio program.
The Hungarian-born Lantos, a Jew who was saved by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, said he is encouraged by changes over the last few months in Hungarian attitudes toward anti-Semitism, which he attributed to concern over the country’s world standing and its prospects for attracting international investment.
“It is obvious that the Hungarian political spectrum across the board, with the exception of the far left and the far right, clearly understands that the good name of the country, and its economic future in terms of international investments,” depends on the strengthening of democratic influences, Lantos said.
Lantos spoke with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the start of a tour which will take him to Slovakia, Romania, Serbian Yugoslavia and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
The California Democrat predicted a “dramatically more energetic” foreign policy by the Clinton administration which, he said, considered it one of its “top priorities” to stabilize conditions in Eastern and Central Europe.
He charged the Bush administration had “abandoned its responsibility” by failing to exercise the strong leadership that could have averted war in Yugoslavia.
“If deterrents worked against the very powerful Soviet Union for 35 years, deterrents surely would have worked against (Serbian leader Slobodan) Milosevic,” he said.
He said there was a “mistaken impression” abroad that the Clinton administration would be turning inward to deal with domestic issues.
But the new Democratic leadership understood that “the world does not stop just because the United States has a few domestic problems.”
He termed “ludicrous” the claim of some that anti-Semitism is a domestic issue that does not concern the rest of the world.
“If the world had concerned itself with Hitler at a time when Hitler had two dozen supporters in a beer hall, and would have focused global attention seriously on this menace, maybe the Second World War could have been avoided,” Lantos said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.