* Jewish leaders see echoes of Nazi-era atrocities
* Far-right leader apologises for remarks
* Movement vilifying Jews has formed vigilante group
By Marton Dunai
BUDAPEST, Nov 27 A Hungarian far-right
politician urged the government to draw up lists of Jews who
pose a "national security risk", stirring outrage among Jewish
leaders who saw echoes of fascist policies that led to the
Marton Gyongyosi, leader of Hungary's third-strongest
political party Jobbik, said the list was necessary because of
heightened tensions following the brief conflict in Gaza and
should include members of parliament.
Opponents have condemned frequent anti-Semitic slurs and
tough rhetoric against the Roma minority by Gyongyosi's party as
populist point scoring ahead of elections in 2014.
But Jobbik has never called publicly for lists of Jews.
"I am a Holocaust survivor," said Gusztav Zoltai, executive
director of the Hungarian Jewish Congregations' Association.
"For people like me this generates raw fear, even though it is
clear that this only serves political ends. This is the shame of
Europe, the shame of the world."
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Hungarian Jews died in the
Holocaust, according to the Holocaust Memorial Centre in
Budapest. According to some accounts, one in three Jews killed
in Auschwitz were Hungarian nationals.
Gyongyosi's call came after Foreign Ministry State Secretary
Zsolt Nemeth said Budapest favoured a peaceful solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict as benefiting both Israelis with
Hungarian ancestry, Hungarian Jews and Palestinians in Hungary.
Gyongyosi 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."
The government released a terse condemnation of the remarks.
"The government strictly rejects extremist, racist,
anti-Semitic voices of any kind and does everything to suppress
such voices," the government spokesman's office said.
Gyongyosi sought to play down his comments on Tuesday,
saying he was referring to citizens with dual Israeli-Hungarian
"I apologise to my Jewish compatriots for my declarations
that could be misunderstood," he said on Jobbik's website.
Jobbik's anti-Semitic discourse often evokes a centuries-old
blood libel - the accusation that Jews used Christians' blood in
"Jobbik has moved from representing medieval superstition
(of the blood libel) to openly Nazi ideologies," wrote Slomo
Koves, chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation.
Jobbik registered as a political party in 2003, and gained
increasing influence as it radicalized gradually, vilifying Jews
and the country's 700,000 Roma.
The group gained notoriety after founding the Hungarian
Guard, an unarmed vigilante group reminiscent of World War
Two-era far-right groups. It entered Parliament at the 2010
elections and holds 44 of 386 seats.
Hungary has been among European states worst hit by the
recent economic crisis and the centre-right government of Prime
Minister Viktor Orban has struggled to exit recession.