Speaking at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D. C. today to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, US President Barack Obama today cited Hungary as a case where the United States made it clear that the failure to address anti-Jewish buias would impede strong bilateral relations.
“It’s why, when a statue of an anti-Semitic leader from World War II was planned in Hungary, we led the charge to convince their government to reverse course,” he said, referring to a statue of the controversial inter-war Hungarian historian and politician Bálint Hóman that was proposed to be erected in the city of Székesfehérvár, central Hungary, in December 2015. “This was not a side note to our relations with Hungary, this was central to maintaining a good relationship with the United States, and we let them know”, Mr. Obama told the gathering in a bid to convince his audience that the United States is leading the fight against the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide.
“We cannot deny it,” he said. “When we see some Jews leaving major European cities — where their families have lived for generations — because they no longer feel safe; when Jewish centers are targeted from Mumbai to Overland Park, Kansas; when swastikas appear on college campuses — when we see all that and more, we must not be silent”, the President said.
Plans to erect a statue of controversial inter-war politician and historian Bálint Hóman (1885-1951) were scrapped after the project received criticism from the United States, Jewish organisations and the left-wing opposition
In December, a group of Jewish members of the United States Congress protested against the construction of a monument to the former interwar government minister and accomplished historian, who they accused of playing a major role in the process leading to the Holocaust. The life-size bronze statue of Mr. Hóman, who served as Minister of Religion and Education between 1932-1938 and betwen 1939-1942, was scheduled to be unveiled later that month in the city of Székesfehérvár, west of the capital Budapest.
However, plans to erect the statue were scrapped after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán disclosed that the cabinet will not support the statue to the late inter-war leader, a decision for which he received praise from Ronald S. Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress.