May 7 (Bloomberg) -- Ronald S. Lauder, the newly re-elected president of the World Jewish Congress, apologized to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban days after saying he failed to draw a “clear line” between his government and the radical nationalist Jobbik party.
Lauder acknowledged today at the WJC’s closing session in Budapest that Orban, in a newspaper interview last week, said Jobbik poses a growing danger to democracy.
“The prime minister really did make a strong statement against Jobbik,” Lauder said, according to Jake Sharfman, of Puder Public Relations LLC in New York that works for the WJC, in an e-mailed answer to questions. “I apologize” about “not knowing that beforehand,” Lauder said.
Orban told Jewish leaders in Budapest on May 5 that “anti-Semitism is unacceptable and intolerable.” The WJC said in a statement afterwards that Orban failed to “address any recent anti-Semitic or racist incidents in the country, nor did he provide sufficient reassurance that a clear line has been drawn between his government and the far-right fringe.”
Jobbik is the third-biggest party in the Hungarian Parliament and held a demonstration on the eve of the WJC meeting in Budapest to “commemorate the victims of Zionism and Bolshevism.” One of its lawmakers, Marton Gyongyosi, on Nov. 26 called for a list of Jewish legislators and government members who pose a “national security risk.” More than 500,000 Hungarians, mostly Jews, were killed in the Holocaust, according to the Budapest-based Holocaust Memorial Center.
About 500 delegates representing more than 70 countries at the World Jewish Congress met for the past three days in Budapest to draw attention to the rise of anti-Semitism. Hungary is home to central Europe’s largest Jewish population.
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