Senior Hungarian officials have stated that the absence of violence against Jews in their country owed to its refusal to admit Muslim immigrants, Haaretz writes. The assertion came amid criticism of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government by other European leaders of his immigration policy, and a dispute between the Hungarian leader and some Jewish community leaders who accuse Orban of encouraging or tolerating anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Whereas other European countries have seen jihadist terrorist attacks against Jews and others in recent years, “Hungary has been consistently able to protect its citizens and residents, its borders and its fundamental elements of statehood from mass immigration and international terrorism,” Minister of State for Security Policy István Mikola said Wednesday at an event in Budapest titled “Are Europe’s Jews Safe?” and organized by the Hungarian Jewry’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, the Action and Protection Foundation.
Csaba Latorkai, deputy state secretary for priority social affairs, noted the 2015 killing of a Jewish security guard in Denmark by an Islamist along with other attacks, including the murder of 137 people in Paris by other Islamists later that year.
“Taking security and administrative measures to prevent such acts, the Hungarian government acted, and so in the autumn of 2015 it decided to set up a border fence, introduced a legal closing of borders,” Latorkai said in his speech, adding it was “in order to protect citizens and make Hungary one of the most secure places in world.”
The arrival of at least 2 million immigrants in Europe since 2015 from Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Middle East has pitted Western European governments that resolved to absorb the newcomers against eastern EU member states that shut down their borders, including Hungary.
Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international Jewish affairs at the American Jewish Committee, told JTA at the event that the link made by Mikola owed to how Hungary, which will have a general election next year, “wants to say that this [its immigration policy] is yet another aspect of taking care of its Jewish community, even if it’s probably a bit of a stretch to see it as a threat to the Jewish community.”
Jewish community leaders across Europe are divided on the arrival of Middle East immigrants, with some citing Jewish values in urging generosity toward the newcomers and others warning that the influx of Muslims will exacerbate Europe’s anti-Semitism problem, Haaretz adds. The chairman of the Action and Protection Foundation, Daniel Bodnar, said that while ant-Semitic violence remains extremely rare in Hungary, the country has seen anti-Semitic rhetoric proliferating over the past decade, notably through the far-right Jobbik party and its affiliated media.