BosNewsLife and other media about an alleged revival of anti Semitism in Hungary. Speaking to reporters in Budapest recently, Peres suggested that he had discussed the refusal by Budapest Prosecutors to start legal procedures against the ultra right wing Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP).
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Eight Hungarian Jewish organizations had accused MIEP of “Nazi, anti-national conduct and incitement,” following the purchase of Hungary’s most popular football (soccer) club Ferencvaros by the Jewish owned retail company Fotex Rt. “I know there were some expressions of anti Semitism in the country,” Peres said, referring to the controversy.
But Budapest Prosecutors have said that MIEP vice-President Laszlo Bognar was within the law when he described the purchase of Ferencvaros by Fotex Rt. as “an act conducted against the Hungarian nation.” Bognar also stressed that “Ferencvaros was sacrificed to a group of businessmen without morals who have nothing to do with Ferencvaros or the Hungarian people.”
Israeli Minister Peres, who was on a one-day visit to Hungary, said he had discussed the issue with his Hungarian counterpart Janos Martonyi. “I got the impression from the Foreign Minister that it is (his) intention not to let anti Semitism again to poison the air unnecessarily,” Peres said.
Last weekend Hungarian justice Minister Ibolya David reportedly planned to re-open the investigation, after earlier describing the controversy as “just a football (soccer) matter.”
The issue of anti Semitism is highly sensitive in Hungary as 600-thousand Hungarian Jews were killed during World War Two when the country was an ally of Nazi Germany. “What I want to say that anti Semitism today is more your problem than our problem,” Peres told Martonyi and Hungarian officials attending the same news conference. “Its like poison,” he added.
However Minister Peres stressed he still believes that a “majority of Hungarians” are against anti Semitism.
Peres stressed that despite these tensions he still has a special relationship with Hungary, explaining that Budapest was the birthplace of Theodor Herzi, a founder of the Zionist movement that created the Jewish state of Israel and in his words, “changed the course of Jewish history.”
Hungary was also the first East European country to recognize Israel after the collapse of Communism. About 200-thousand Hungarian Jews are believed to live in Israel, and last year bilateral trade reportedly amounted to 138.8 million dollars.
Peres urged Hungary, and all European countries, to play a more active role in the peace process and suggested that improved U.S.-European relations will help in fighting terrorism. “I feel today there is an easier relationship between the United States and Europe. It is no longer as confrontational as it used to be in the past,” he said. “I feel that there is an attempt to have a united line concerning terror, where Russia joins in, and others…”
Minister Peres said he welcomed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s proposal to revive the peace talks, although he did not elaborate about a possible venue for such a meeting. Arafat told reporters Tuesday in the West Bank town of Ramallah after a meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer that he was prepared to meet the Israeli Foreign Minister in Berlin. Peres made clear he hopes the meeting will lead to an end of the Palestinian uprising, known as the Intifada, and 11 months of bloodshed.