Israel Protests Anti-Semitism in Hungary Journalist Award

Hungary should take back a government award granted to television journalist Ferenc Szaniszlo because of anti-Semitic remarks he made, Israel’s Ambassador to Budapest Ilan Mor said.

Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog awarded the Tancsics prize on March 14 to Szaniszlo, a television journalist on private television station Echo TV. The media regulator in 2010 ordered the temporary suspension of the station after ruling that Szaniszlo’s “broad anti-Hungarian conspiracies” incited hatred against minorities including Jews.

“This man and his ideas must be rejected and should not have been awarded,” Mor said in an e-mailed statement today, adding that Szaniszlo’s remarks were part of “new antisemitism” in Europe which Hungary risked legitimizing.

Balog said he didn’t know about Szaniszlo’s remarks when awarding the prize to him and said they were “irreconcilable” with his beliefs, MTI state news service reported on March 14, citing the minister’s statement. Balog said that while he wouldn’t give it to Szaniszlo again, he had no way to revoke the award, MTI said.

“While Israel and Hungary are cooperating in fighting against antisemitism, such awards might cause negative impression and lead us to the wrong direction,” Mor said.

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