Prime Minister Boris Johnson will welcome his controversial Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban, to Downing Street on Friday. Mr Orban’s government and Fidesz party have been involved in the continued direct harassment of Jewish leaders and Jewish community organisations in Hungary over the past decade, including Masorti Judaism’s sister organisation, Marom Budapest, and the Auróra community centre that they run.
The Hungarian authorities have consistently targeted Auróra with politically motivated police raids, closures and administrative harassment. This is against the backdrop of far-right rhetoric from Mr Orban’s government, the antisemitic vilification of Jewish philanthropist George Soros, as well as the minimisation of the Hungarian State’s collaboration in the murder of over 500,000 Hungarian Jews in the Holocaust.
Equally alarming has been Orban’s clampdown on basic democratic norms, press freedoms and the use of discriminatory rhetoric directed towards Muslims and members of the Roma community.
Orban’s flirtation with antisemitism has created a hostile environment for Jewish groups. In October 2019 Neo-Nazis attempted to torch Auróra, while in 2017 far-right activists filmed themselves placing posters reading “Stop operation Soros” at the centre. Marom members have spoken out about anti-Jewish racism in Hungary. In 2018, over 100 UK Marom members wrote to then Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over the Hungarian authorities’ harassment of Marom Budapest, “whose only crime is embracing and reviving their liberal Jewish identity”.
Matt Plen, Chief Executive of Masorti Judaism said: “We are deeply concerned about the threats to members of the Jewish community in Hungary. We expect our Prime Minister to use any influence he has with Mr Orban to protect Hungary’s Jews and other vulnerable minority groups.”