Hungarian leaders decry anti-Semitic attack on retired chief rabbi


(JTA) – Hungary’s political and religious leaders joined the Jewish world in condemning an anti-Semitic verbal attack on a highly respected retired chief rabbi. 

Chief Rabbi Emeritus Jozsef Schweitzer, 89, was accosted near his home in downtown Budapest Tuesday by a man who swore at him and shouted, “I hate all Jews.” 

The Hungarian government on Wednesday released a statement that said it "will do everything in its power to combat words and actions which are incompatible with European norms” and that it “utterly condemns the insult recently directed at former Chief Rabbi József Schweitzer, who is one of the most highly respected Hungarian intellectuals.” 

Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi sent a letter of support to Schweitzer expressing solidarity in the face of what he called an “ignoble attack.” Opposition parties also condemned the assault. 

Cardinal Peter Erdos, the president of the Roman Catholic Episcopal Conference, along with the leaders of Hungary’s Reform and Lutheran churces, also issued a joint statement condemning “in the strongest terms” the “cowardly attack” and expressing “sympathy and solidarity” with Schweitzer. 

Mazsihisz, the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, called the incident "another manifestation of a new racist hate wave that is flooding Hungary." It urged Hungary’s leaders to take all steps to prevent such anti-Semitic incidents from happening in the future.

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