New York, NY, June 9, 2009 … In the wake of European parliamentary elections in which far-right groups in Hungary and Austria made significant gains, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was "deeply distressing" that the blatantly anti-Semitic parties received so many votes, and called on European leaders to ensure that "anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry never again gain a foothold in Europe."
The right-wing ultranationalist parties Jobbik of Hungary and the Freedom Party of Austria received 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively, of the vote in their countries. Three of Hungary's 22 European Parliament seats will be held by Jobbik, whose leader recently wrote to a Hungarian Jew, "We have raised our heads and refuse to tolerate the terror of your kind. We will recapture our homeland!"
"While these parties made only marginal gains, the fact that so many Europeans gave a vote of confidence to their openly anti-Semitic and racist messages is deeply distressing," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "It is especially troubling in Austria and Hungary, where recent polling has shown there is a climate for acceptance of anti-Semitic attitudes among a broad swath of society.
"It is imperative that European leaders do not remain silent, but speak out and reject the hateful and bigoted worldview of parties of the far-right and their supporters," Mr. Foxman said. "Anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry must never again gain a foothold in Europe."
The vote came as the Jobbik party entered into a cooperation agreement with the TMRSZ police trade union, a move that deepened concerns about the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the Hungarian National Police Department. While an internal investigation has referred the matter to the public prosecutor's office, ADL is urging the Hungarian government to take immediate steps against the blatant anti-Semitism of some among the leadership of the Hungarian police.
In a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai, ADL said it was "shocked to learn that the TMRSZ police trade union advocated anti-Semitism as 'the duty of every Hungarian patriot' and called on its 5,000 members to 'prepare for armed battle against the Jews' in a recent edition of its newsletter."
"Such statements from any sector of society are reprehensible. From a police-associated organization they must also be considered dangerous," said Mr. Foxman. "Whether such violent anti-Semitism is shared by few or many of the police union's members, the effect on Hungary's Jewish community can only be to call into question the commitment of the police to protect all law-abiding people in Hungary, regardless of ethnicity or religion."
ADL's February 2009 European poll showed that 67 percent of Hungarian respondents agree with the statement that "Jews have too much power in the business world," and 40 percent believe that "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to Hungary." In Austria, 36 percent agree that "Jews have too much power," and 47 percent believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel.