(JTA) — The head of the World Jewish Congress called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to publicly condemn an anti-Semitic image on the cover of a pro-government magazine.
A picture of Andras Heisler, who heads Hungary’s largest Jewish group, surrounded by money was published late last week by the Figyelo weekly.
Such an image “is one of the oldest and vilest caricatures of the Jewish people and it places not just the magazine, but all of Hungary in a very bad light,” WJC President Ronald Lauder wrote in a letter to Orban on Friday. “The timing of this is especially critical because people in the United States, and elsewhere, are paying greater attention to the upsurge in anti-Semitism throughout Europe and, especially, in Hungary.”
The letter also said: “While I understand and respect the boundaries of a free press, I believe your strong, public condemnation of this very clear attack on all Jewish people, would not just distance you, personally, from this most disgusting hatred, worthy of the Nazi era, but it would also place your government and all of Hungary in a better light.”
The magazine accuses Heisler and his umbrella group, Mazsihisz, of accounting irregularities in connection with a state-funded synagogue renovation and museum project in Budapest, according to the AFP news service. Mazsihisz denies the allegation.
Orban’s government had an open row with Mazsihisz over a statue unveiled in Budapest in 2014 devoted to the Nazi occupation. Mazsihisz said the statute, which shows an angel being attacked by an eagle, whitewashes Hungarian complicity in the Holocaust.
Orban has consistently rejected this interpretation and repeatedly vowed to take an active stance against anti-Semitism.