Szegedi is well known in Hungary for his anti-Semitic rants and incendiary comments about Jews. He helped to start the Hungarian Guard
in 2007. The Hungarian Guard, whose black uniforms and striped flag are reminiscent of the World War II pro Nazi Party Arrow Cross, was banned in Hungary in 2009. It was then that Szegedi joined the Jobbik party
, the country's biggest far-right political force. He became a Hungarian nationalist politician, and was elected as a Member of the European Parliament with the Jobbik - Movement for a Better Hungary.
In June of this year, Szegedi finally admitted that his mother’s parents were Jews. His grandmother managed to survive being sent to Auschwitz during WW II, and his grandfather is a veteran of forced labor camps. Since confirming speculation that had been swirling around the internet for weeks, Szegedi has resigned his position with Jobbik after Jobbik’s vice-president Elod Novak called for his resignation. Jobbik contends
that the demand for resignation was based on allegations that Szegedi attempted to bribe a convicted felon, who had evidence of Szegedi's Jewish roots, to remain quite, not because he is Jewish.
Although Szegedii has denied making anti-Semitic statements, he blamed the large-scale privatization of state assets after the end of communism on “people in the Hungarian political elite who shielded themselves in their Jewishness” in an interview with Hungarian state television
. He went on to say “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.”
Having been forced to resign from his post in Jobbik, and having alienated many in the Jewish community, Szegedi appears to be a man left wandering aimlessly, trying to find acceptance once again. One can hardly phantom how painful it must be to realize you are indeed the person you have belittled and criticized much of your adult life. To see the same judgmental finger you have pointed at a certain group of people now being pointed at you must be heart wrenching.
Szegedi is a prime example of how bigotry and hate often times comes back to haunt us. It is a lesson in how intolerance can boomerang, be turned around and pointed squarely in our direction. There is certainly a lesson to be learned from Szegedi’s story, a lesson not only for others, but a lesson for him as well.
Perhaps Szegedi will accept this lesson and his legacy will not be his radical far right anti-Semitic beliefs. Perhaps, after it is all said and done, he will use this experience to try and spread tolerance and understanding, not only of Jews, but of other marginalized populations in his country. Perhaps he will use his position on the European Parliament to work towards trying to create a more accepting world. The choice is ultimately his to make. He can become bitter, he can try and deny the fact that he is truly Jewish, and he can continue to spread venomous hate. Or, hopefully he will choose to accept the reality of his heritage and work towards making his community, his country and the world a more accepting and loving place.