- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
A senior member of Hungary’s far right Jobbik country thinks it’s about time the country started keeping better track of its Jews:
Gyongyosi, who leads Jobbik’s foreign policy cabinet, told Parliament: "I know how many people with Hungarian ancestry live in Israel, and how many Israeli Jews live in Hungary," according to a video posted on Jobbik’s website late on Monday.
"I think such a conflict makes it timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary."
Rhetoric like this in a country where more than half a million Jews were killed during the Holocaust are obviously disturbing. But what makes this more interesting than just another "European far-right politician says offensive thing" story, is that Jobbik’s old-fashioned anti-Semitism puts it at odds with the direction other European far-right groups are heading. In much of Western Europe, at least, far-right leaders have been attempting to distance their parties from their past hostility to Jews — and even praising Israel — as they shift focus to fears of immigration and Islam.
The Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, a staunch supporter of Israel, which he sees as "fighting our war" against Islam and "the only democracy in a dark and tyrannical region" was something of a trend-setter in this regard. France’s Marine Le Pen has tried to make ammends for her father’s hostility to Jews and Holocaust denial by purging outspoken anti-Semites from her party’s ranks. (Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations was criticized last year for appearing in a photo with Le Pen.) Even the infamous British National Party has attempted — with minimal success — to woo Jewish voters by playing up fears of Islamic immigration.
While these outreach efforts have met with little success — it’s probably going to take a lot more than a PR campaign to get European Jews on board with far-right parties — renouncing anti-Semitism and praising Israel can be a way to deflect charges of bigotry while they keep up their attacks on Islam.
Jobbik — not to mention Greece’s Golden Dawn, whose spokesman reportedly read passages from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion during a parliament meeting — evidently haven’t gotten the memo.