ANTISEMITISM CREEPS BACK AS HUNGARY AND POLAND FAIL TO DRAW RED LINES

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09/10/2020

Few interviews have received such media attention in Hungary recently as that given by Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth. In the interview with t-online, published on August 21, Roth warned that Poland and Hungary do not care about the protection of ethnic and sexual minorities, highlighting Hungary’s “rampant anti-Semitism” as one of the reasons why the EU’s Article 7 procedure – which suspends certain rights from a member state – had been launched against Hungary. Ignoring much of Roth’s list of grievances against the Hungarian government – lack of rule of law, judicial independence, and media freedom – Budapest focused on that charge of antisemitism. Germany’s new ambassador to Hungary was promptly summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Budapest for a dressing down, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyas wrote about what he termed insolent and baseless accusations, while Justice Minister Judit Varga protested against double standards in the EU. Scapegoating minorities has become routine for PiS, which attacked refugees on the campaign trail in 2015 and LGBT people during various electoral battles over the last two years. While its politicians and supporters had mainly steered away from making blatant antisemitic remarks themselves, PiS’s historical narrative of Poles as World War II’s biggest victims has sometimes reeked of historical revisionism or even denialism.

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