Concerns have been raised about a controversial Hungarian media figure invited to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest on 20th May.
Hungarian journalist Zsolt Bayer has a history of making inflammatory remarks.
The journalist, whose political views have variously been described as “ultra-conservative” and “far-right”, is reported to have said that the Hungarian Academy of Science had been infiltrated by Jews.
Mr Bayer is also reported to have written in a 2008 column about the “limitless hunger of the Jewish financiers in Brooklyn and Wall Street yuppies, which plunged the American and as a consequence the global monetary world into depression.”
A 2011 article for the conservative, pro-government Hungarian daily newspaper Magyar Hírlap contains several inflammatory remarks relating to Guardian journalist Nick Cohen and other Jewish figures with typically Jewish surnames.
Nick Cohen’s article criticised the rightward turn in Hungarian politics. Mr Cohen wrote that he would not call the conservative government headed by Viktor Orbán “fascist” or “neo-fascist”, but that “a foul stench wafts from the ‘new society’ Orbán’s patriots are building on the Danube. You can catch a smell of it in [the ruling party] Fidesz’s propaganda” which, Mr Cohen argues, involves forming a political pact with Jobbik, a political party that was at the time explicitly far-right and which blamed Jews, Roma people and homosexuals for Hungary’s social problems.
In response, Mr Bayer is reported to have written an article in Hungarian calling Mr Cohen “stinking excrement”. Mr Bayer’s article goes on to use more subtle pejorative references. Mr Bayer juxtaposes the typically Jewish surname Cohen with the names Cohn-Bendit and Schiff.
The former is believed to refer to former MEP and radical student leader, Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Mr Cohn-Bendit is a vocal supporter of the European Union, and has criticised Mr Orbán in the European Parliament for adopting laws that allegedly restrict the freedom of the press. Mr Cohn-Bendit says that this has resulted in Mr Orbán’s allies harbouring a “hatred” for him.
The name “Schiff” refers to Sir András Schiff, a Hungarian-born classical pianist and conductor who is an outspoken critic of Mr Orbán. Mr Schiff has questioned whether Hungary was worthy of taking on the Presidency of the Council of the European Union due to its Government’s policies, said that he would refuse to perform or even visit Hungary due to antisemitism, and said that “antisemitic baiting has become socially acceptable in Hungary” under Fidesz and Mr Orbán’s rule.
Both Mr Cohn-Bendit and Mr Schiff are Jewish. Then Mr Bayer writes that “There is nothing new under the sun. Unfortunately they were not all buried up to their necks in the forest of Orgovány.”
Orgovány was the site of a series of massacres committed by the leaders of the Hungarian White Terror. This was a period of repressive violence between 1919-21 carried out by opponents of Hungary’s short-lived Soviet Republic and its Red Terror. Far-right Hungarian figures often associate the 1919 Hungarian Soviet Republic with Jewish influence, which fits into a conspiracy theory about “Judeo-Bolshevism”, which holds Jews responsible for communism. As many as 1,000 people were killed in the White Terror, many of them Jewish. Mr Bayer’s appeared to imply that he is unhappy that these Jewish journalists were not also killed during this period.
On another occasion, Mr Bayer referred to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has a Hungarian-Jewish background, as a “ROOTLESS Hungarian”, echoing a typical trope about Jews that questions whether Jews have sufficient allegiance or loyalty to their countries of residence.
Though Mr Bayer rarely uses the word “Jew” or “Jewish” directly, it is believed that readers in Hungary are aware of what Mr Bayer may be implying when he refers to these events and who he may mean when he claims that the interests of white European Christians are under attack.
In 1988, Mr Bayer co-founded the Fidesz political party together with Mr Orbán. At the time, the Party was a centre-left and liberal activist movement formed in opposition to the ruling Marxist-Leninist Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, which had held power since the failed democratic revolution in 1956. Fidesz took a national-conservative turn during the 1990s.