A far right-wing Hungarian politician, Csanad Szegedi, member of an anti-Semitic right-wing group, recently discovered his Jewish ancestry. The revelation came as a shock to the politician who has been disowned by his ultra-nationalist colleagues.
AP reports the revelation began with Internet rumors that ran for several weeks before Szegedi finally admitted openly that his maternal grandparents were Jews. That makes him a Jew under Jewish law, AP reports. Szegedi's grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor and his grandfather was an inmate of forced labor camps.
The retribution of Karmic justice began for the former ultra-nationalist anti-Semite with the discovery of an audio tape of a meeting he had with a convicted felon in 2010. The felon was serving a prison term for weapons and explosives, AP reports.
The tape recorded the felon presenting Szegedi with evidence of his Jewish roots. According to AP, Szegedi appeared astonished by the revelation.
AP reports the felon Zoltan Ambrus, is heard on tape telling Szegedi that he has documents that prove he is Jewish. Szegedi is heard offering money and a EU job to Ambrus as a bribe to keep quiet. Ambrus allegedly rejected bribe. He later claimed he secretly taped the conversation as part of a power tussle plot in the Jobbik Party.
Csanád Szegedi, Hungarian nationalist politician and elected Member of the European Parliament. Szegedi was notorious for his incendiary comments about Jews
'Welcome to the tribe Szegedi!'
Szegedi acknowledged his Jewish origins in interviews with the media in June. He told Hir TV that after he met with Ambrus, he spoke to his grandmother who told him about his Orthodox Jewish roots. Szegedi told Hir Tv: “It was then that it dawned on me that my grandmother really is Jewish. I asked her how the deportations happened. She was in Auschwitz and Dachau and she was the only survivor in the extended family.”
Judaism is traced from mother to child, and thus, under Jewish law, Szegedi is Jewish, AP reports. He is quoted as saying that he now only defines himself as someone with “ancestry of Jewish origin — because I declare myself 100 per cent Hungarian.”
The politician also claimed he never made anti-Semitic statements. However, AP reports that several of his recorded speeches and media appearances contradict his claim. In November 2010, during an interview with the Hungarian State television, Szegedi blamed the privatization of state assets, after the end of communist rule in Hungary, on “people in the Hungarian political elite who shielded themselves in their Jewishness.” On another occasion in November 2010, while speaking on a morning program, he said that "'the problem the radical right has with the Jews' was that Jewish artists, actors and intellectuals had desecrated Hungary’s national symbols like the Holy Crown of St. Stephen, the country’s first Christian king." On yet another occasion, he complained loudly about “massive real estate purchases being done in Hungary, where — it’s no secret — they want to bring in Israeli residents.”
RabbiJason.com reports Szegedi's party has often complained about the "Jewishness" of some Hungarian politicians and described Israelis as "lice-infested, dirty murderers."
Szegedi is not the first East European anti-Semtic right-wing nationalist to discover he is Jewish after a lifetime of espousing anti-Semitic political ideology. Many Hungarians grew up unaware of their Jewish ancestry because the Holocaust was a taboo subject in Hungary during decades of communist rule and many survivors of the Holocaust kept the truth from their children. Szegedi, for instance, was raised a Presbyterian. A Russian extreme right-wing politician, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, also acknowledged in 2001 that his father was Jewish.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Szegedi met in August with Hungary's Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch community leader Rabbi Slomo Koves, whose parents discovered their Jewish heritage in their teens. The Wall Street Journal reports Koves said: "As a rabbi, it is my duty to receive anybody who requests advice or help. I wish for him that he be able to redeem the past years. He can do that best, if, apart from getting to know his own roots, he does everything in his power to keep others from being led astray, like he had been."
Szegedi, during the meeting with Rabbi Koves, apologized for his statements that may have offended the Jewish community. The Wall Street Journal reports he said: "Had I made any comments in the past years that offended the Jewish community, I ask for forgiveness. Now that I have been faced with my Jewish roots, that I do not regret at all, keeping in touch with the leaders of the Hungarian Jewish community has become especially important for me."
He also promise to visit Auschwitz to pay his respects.
Koves commented: “Csanad Szegedi is in the middle of a difficult process of reparation, self-knowledge, re-evaluation and learning, which according to our hopes and interests, should conclude in a positive manner. Whether this will occur or not is first and foremost up to him.”
RabbiJasson.com extended a hand of Jewish fellowship to Szegedi with the greeting: "Welcome to the Tribe Csanad Szegedi."
The revelation of Szegedi's Jewish roots has led to a political backlash. He is now being disowned by his extreme right-wing anti-Semititc Jobbik Party whose leadership, according to RabbiJason.com, commemorated the "130th anniversary of the Tiszaeszlar blood libel, seen as one of the first anti-Semitic events in modern-era Hungary."
The Star reports Szegedi resigned from the Jobbik Party last month. But the Party, now directing the full fury of its anti-Semitic sentiments on its former member, demanded that he should also resign from his seat in the European Parliament. According to Jobbik president Gabor Vona, "We have no alternative but to ask him to return his EU mandate. Jobbik does not investigate the heritage of its members or leadership, but instead takes into consideration what they have done for the nation.”
Jobbik claims it is targeting the embattled politician not because he is Jewish but because of the alleged bribery. But most observers do not believe the party's claim.
Szegedi came to prominence in national politics in 2007. He was a founding member of the Hungarian Guard, a right-wing nationalist group whose black uniforms and striped flags were reminiscent of the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party that ruled Hungary at the end of World War II. The Arrow Cross is believed to have caused the deaths of thousands of Hungarian Jews. According to AP, about 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Holocaust, most at death camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka.
The Hungarian Guards were banned in 2009. Szegedi joined the Jobbik Party launched in 2003. The party grew to become Hungary's biggest extreme right-wing political group. Szegedi became a prominent vocal figure in the party.