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Friday, October 26, 2012

Former anti-semitic EU parliament member now fights for Israel

Last August, there was a sensational story in Hungary:
A leading member of a Hungarian anti-Semitic party, notorious for his provocative comments about Jews has discovered that he is a Jew himself.

Ultra nationalist Csanad Szegedi of the far-right Jobbik Party had accused Jews of ‘buying up’ the country, railed about the ‘Jewishness’ of the political elite and claimed Jews were desecrating national symbols.

That was until it was revealed that his grandmother was a survivor of Auschwitz death camp and his grandfather was a forced labour camp veteran.

After weeks of internet rumours, Szegedi acknowledged in June that his grandparents on his mother's side were Jews, making him one too under Jewish law even though he does not practice the faith.

Since then, the 30-year-old has been politically exiled from Jobbik with his political career on the brink of collapse.

Under pressure, Szegedi resigned last month from all party positions and gave up his Jobbik membership and last week the party asked him to give up his seat in the European Parliament as well.

Since 2009, he has served in the European Parliament in Brussels as one of the party's three EU lawmakers, a position he says he wants to keep.

After discovering he was Jewish, Szegedi met with Rabbi Slomo Koves, of Hungary's Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch community in early August, whose own parents were in their teens when they discovered they were Jewish.

Koves said: ‘As a rabbi ... it is my duty to receive every person who is in a situation of crisis and especially a Jew who has just now faced his heritage.’
During the meeting, Szegedi apologised for any statements which may have offended the Jewish community and vowed to visit Auschwitz to pay his respects.

Koves described the conversation as ‘difficult and spiritually stressful’, but said he is hopeful for a successful outcome.

He said: ‘Csanad Szegedi is in the middle of a difficult process of reparation, self-knowledge, re-evaluation and learning, which according to our hopes and interests, should conclude in a positive manner.

‘Whether this will occur or not is first and foremost up to him.’
This week, during the debate in the EU Parliament on allowing the European market to have free access to Israeli pharamaceuticals, the  Szegedi - who did not relinquish his post there - had only warm words for the Jewish state:
For decades, Israel has been inside one of the most politically unstable regions of the Earth. Despite all the difficulties on how to build a modern democracy, the Jewish state has demonstrated that there can be freedom and peace for the people, where there are normally dictatorships and hatred. The European Parliament has the strong ethical and moral obligation to support any moves to bring together Israel and the European Union, as part of Europe's cultural sense of Israel. Israel is a state that continually demonstrates the maturity of respect for human rights, and therefore the EU should beware of whether they interfere in Israel's internal affairs. We would also like to take this opportunity to wish peace as soon as possible to the people of the Middle East.

The parliament passed the law, whch was another huge setback for the "boycott Israel" crowd. But they also lost a former champion.