/ NEW YORK – Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress
(WJC), is urging the Hungarian government to put an end to the row with the
country’s Jewish community over the commemoration of the Holocaust. In an
opinion article to be published by Hungary’s leading newspaper Népszabadság in
its Saturday edition, Lauder reaffirms that the WJC backs the decision taken
last Sunday by the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) not
to take part in official events marking the 70th anniversary of the deportation
of Hungarian Jews to the Nazi death camps unless its concerns regarding
controversial projects are addressed.
“The decision taken by Mazsihisz has the full support of
the World Jewish Congress. Let there be no doubt: The Jewish community both in
Hungary, and internationally, stands united on this issue. Reconciliation and
forgiveness are difficult to achieve when the views of the Jewish community, of
those who lived through these dark days, or of their descendants, are not are
not taken into account, or are publicly discredited,” Lauder argues.
In his article, the WJC president expresses concern that
the issue of Hungary’s role in the Holocaust has become the subject of debate
in the midst of the general election campaign. “Extreme-right forces must not
be allowed to exploit this issue for electioneering purposes. The remembrance
of the Holocaust and of the atrocities committed during World War II ought to
unite Hungarians, not divide them. It is of critical importance that younger
generations are educated about what happened during World War II,” he writes.
“For Jews, the Holocaust is not an issue of left or right.
It is not, and should not be, the subject of an election campaign,” Lauder
writes, adding: “Portraying Hungary solely as a victim of Nazi Germany
obfuscates the role the administration of Miklós Horthy played, first in
depriving Hungarian Jews of their civil rights and later in sending thousands
of them to the death camps.”
Lauder also calls on the government of Prime Minister
Viktor Orbán to postpone the installation of a controversial monument on
Budapest’s Liberty Square. “If Viktor Orbán and the Hungarian government
seriously believe that the statue should also be a memorial for the Jewish
victims, at the very least they should listen to the Jewish community's
concerns, take them into account, and reconsider their plans.”
Last May, the World Jewish Congress held its Plenary
Assembly in Budapest in solidarity with Hungary’s Jewish community, which is
the largest in Central Europe.