New York, NY, April 5, 2012 … Just days before the observance of the Jewish holiday of Passover, a member of an extremist party in Hungary took to the floor of parliament and invoked an infamous blood libel that led to incitement against 19th century Hungarian Jews, and linked it with another classical anti-Semitic stereotype about Jewish control of international finance.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today vehemently condemned the words of the parliamentarian, Zsolt Barath of the extremist Jobbik party, and called on the Hungarian government to "fulfill its pledge to punish hate speech in parliament."
Barath claimed in a speech this week that the Jews who were accused in 1882 of ritual murder after the disappearance of Eszter Solymosi, a Christian peasant girl from the village of Tiszaeszlar, were found innocent only because the judge worried that international bankers – code words for "Jews" – would push Hungary into bankruptcy if the Jews were convicted. The 1882-1883 trial of 13 Jewish defendants, held in an atmosphere rife with anti-Semitic propaganda and agitation, has come to be known by historians as the Tiszaeszlar Blood Libel.
"Throughout the centuries, blood libels have led to mob violence and pogroms against Jewish communities, especially during the Easter holiday when Jews were routinely singled out for persecution," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This particular blood libel is a terrible stain on Hungary's past, and the fact that it is being called up today by a party that has organized and supported paramilitary groups is deeply troubling."
The League welcomed the Hungarian government's condemnation of Barath's comments as "absolutely unacceptable." During the same parliamentary session Janos Fonagy of the governing Fidesz party stated that, "mentioning the blood-libel case of Tiszaeszlar tears open centuries-old wounds."
But ADL called on government leaders to take further action, noting that Janos Lazar, the Fidesz party caucus leader, had pledged in July 2011 that the government would create a legal means to punish anti-Semitic and anti-Roma slurs in parliament. "The government now needs to fulfill its pledge to punish hate speech in parliament," said Mr. Foxman.
ADL found in a February 2012 opinion poll of anti-Semitic attitudes in Hungary that 63 percent of the population holds anti-Semitic views, up from 47 percent in 2009. Three out of four Hungarian respondents agree with the statement, "Jews have too much power in international financial markets" and 38 percent of Hungarians believe that "The Jews are responsible for the death of Christ."