Last weekend, a meeting on global efforts to combat antisemitism was held at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, at which US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, among others, spoke. In her speech, she said that synagogues in Ukraine have been hit by Russian rockets and in Hungary a Holocaust memorial has been vandalized. The latter claim turned out to be a very unfortunate gaffe.
In her speech, the US ambassador said that antisemitism is widespread and growing worldwide, and hatred threatens the safety of Jewish people. As an example, she cited Hungary.
The Hungarian delegation attended the UN meeting, but were not given the opportunity to speak, so the Hungarian ambassador to the UN personally addressed the comment after the meeting. It later turned out that the destruction of the Holocaust memorial in question did not take place in Hungary, but in Sweden. The statue in question depicted Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in German-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust.
After the Hungarian diplomats contacted Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US mission reportedly admitted behind closed doors that they had made a mistake and that the incident had not indeed taken place in Hungary, as they had claimed.
The Hungarian Embassy requested a public retraction from the US Embassy, but so far this has not been initiated.
In addition, Hungarian news site Index reported that a document in their possession shows that the US mission considers the matter closed by simply crossing out the part about Hungary in the official transcript of the speech.
Photo: Facebook/Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Máté Paczolay, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told Index that he considers the incident outrageous. He stressed that the seriousness of the whole event was called into question by the fact that in a high-profile meeting on antisemitism, untruths could be made about a country in the presence of the entire diplomatic corps, without any due diligence and without any consequences.
Hungary, and the Hungarian government in particular, is often accused of being antisemitic by the Western world without any evidence listed. Most recently, publicist David Nirenberg wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal in which he listed some people whom he called the “opponents of Jewish power,” mentioning at this point British Labour Party politician Jeremy Corbyn, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
However, as Chief Rabbi Tamás Róna said in reaction to Nirenberg’s article and in another interview, Judaism is flourishing in Hungary, and Jews can feel perfectly safe here, unlike in other Western countries. He stressed that the outlook for Jews in Hungary is positive, with Christian-Jewish dialogue growing stronger and the government of the day providing them with a lot of cultural and social support, especially in the last 10 years or so, i.e. since Fidesz came to power.
Featured photo via Wikimedia