Budapest intellectuals condemn columnist’s attack


A group of 100 Budapest intellectuals has condemned a “libelous attack” against Jewish journalists in a major daily.

The condemnation was made in an open letter to the daily Magyar Hírlap publisher, Gábor Széles. Budapest mayor Gábor Demszky reportedly has cancelled his subscription to the paper and said he won’t grant them any further interviews.

The letter of protest focuses on the invective of one columnist, Zsolt Bayer, who has promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. He recently singled out “Budapest Jewish journalists,” writing that “In 1967 the Budapest Jewish journalists still maligned Israel. These same Budapest Jewish journalists today are maligning the Arabs. And the Fidesz [center-right political party]. And us. Because they hate us more than we hate them.”

Bayer and the paper have broken a taboo that has existed since the end of World War II, the protesters wrote. They compared Bayer’s statements to far-right propaganda of the 1930s and 1940s, and suggested the paper should not print his columns.

Commenting Wednesday in the daily newspaper Népszabadság, author and literary critic György Vári said he doubts the protest will have an effect. In remarks translated by the “eurotopics” news forum of the German government, Vári said there is not enough of a consensus against anti-Semitism in Hungary, so “the signees are unlikely to achieve their aim.”

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