Jewish groups demand Boris Johnson raise state sponsored antisemitic harassment with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will welcome his controversial Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban, to Downing Street on Friday. Mr Orban’s government and Fidesz party have been involved in the continued direct harassment of Jewish leaders and Jewish community organisations in Hungary over the past decade, including Masorti Judaism’s sister organisation, Marom Budapest, and the Aurora community centre that they run.

The Hungarian authorities have consistently targeted Aurora with politically motivated police raids, closures and administrative harassment. This is against the backdrop of far-right rhetoric from Mr Orban’s government, the antisemitic vilification of Jewish philanthropist George Soros, as well as the minimisation of the Hungarian State’s collaboration in the murder of over 500,000 Hungarian Jews in the Holocaust.

Equally alarming has been Orban’s clampdown on basic democratic norms, press freedoms and the use of discriminatory rhetoric directed towards Muslims and members of the Roma community.

Orban’s flirtation with antisemitism has created a hostile environment for Jewish groups. In October 2019 Neo-Nazis attempted to torch Aurora, while in 2017 far-right activists filmed themselves placing posters reading “Stop operation Soros” at the centre. Marom members have spoken out about anti-Jewish racism in Hungary. In 2018, over 100 UK Marom members wrote to then Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over the Hungarian authorities’ harassment of Marom Budapest, “whose only crime is embracing and reviving their liberal Jewish identity”.

Masorti Judaism and the Jewish Labour Movement urge the Prime Minister to use his meeting with Prime Minister Orban to raise these fundamental issues of human rights.

On 20 May, the Prime Minister hosted the Chief Rabbi and leading Jewish community organisations at Downing Street following a rise in hate crime incidents arising from the reignition of the conflict in Israel and Gaza. Following the meetings, Mr Johnson said: “I condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms and I stand totally with our Jewish community. We must call it out and be continuously vigilant and emphatic.”

Matt Plen, Chief Executive of Masorti Judaism said: “We are deeply concerned about the threats to members of the Jewish community in Hungary. We expect our Prime Minister to use any influence he has with Mr Orban to protect Hungary’s Jews and other vulnerable minority groups.”

Mike Katz, Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement said: “Just last week, the Prime Minister rejected antisemitism in the strongest possible terms and spoke about the need for continuous vigilance against it. On Friday, Mr Johnson must follow his own advice and call out Viktor Orban’s hate speech against Jews and other minorities in Hungary. British Jews would expect nothing less.”