Last week, the United Nations held a summit dedicated to the fight against antisemitism. It featured a slate of high-profile speakers and attendees, including Second Gentleman of the United States Douglas Emhoff, a Jewish man himself, who delivered the keynote address.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, also spoke at the event. Her speech stirred up a great deal of controversy. In the beginning, she claimed that while synagogues were being hit by Russian rockets in Ukraine, ‘a Holocaust memorial was vandalised in Hungary’. She used this incident as the foundation to build her case against Hungary as a hotbed of antisemitism, where ‘hatred is fuelled not only by extremist groups, but also by mainstream political leaders, popular celebrities and people in positions of power’.
However, there is one problem—no such incident took place in Hungary.
The Hungarian delegation asked to speak and defend themselves against the slanderous accusations, but was never given the floor by the US fraction, who was also serving as the host of the event.
Thus, the diplomats from Hungary could only confront their country’s accuser in private, after the meeting concluded. There, the US delegation conceded that they had made a mistake. In fact, they were trying to refer to the Raoul Wallenberg memorial being defaced in Stockholm, Sweden, thousands of miles away from Hungary. Despite the glaring error, Thomas-Greenfield never issued an apology, nor did anyone from her team. Instead, they simply crossed out the factually inaccurate statement in the transcript of her speech.
Máté Paczolay, the spokesperson for the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade made a statement to the online news site Index where he called the mistake on the American ambassador’s part ‘outrageous’. He also added:
‘Currently, the case is at the stage where the American side has admitted to their mistake behind closed doors. However, they are not willing to go beyond that and release a public correction or apology, which would be the bare minimum expectation in such a case in the world of diplomacy. Even more astonishingly, as the situation started to become noticeably embarrassing for them, they simply crossed out the part referring to Hungary in the transcript of the speech.’
Hungarian Efforts to Fight Anti-Semitism Appreciated By the Jewish Community
Despite the false narrative from the West, the Fidesz administration is committed to a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination against Jewish people. And many prominent figures in the community have acknowledged that.
Last month, Chief Rabbi Tamás Róna, president of the Hungarian Jewish Prayer Association, was interviewed by Index. In the piece, he talked about a new ‘heyday’ for Jewish Hungarians thanks to ‘social and cultural support from the government’. He also claimed that as a Jewish man, he feels much safer in his country than in many other parts of the world. Also, just this month, Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Amichai Chikli met with Hungarian State Secretary in charge of Civil Affairs, Minorities, and Churches Miklós Soltész in Jerusalem. Chikli praised Hungary for its consistent support for the State of Israel, and also asked for help in stopping the EU from sending funds to Palestinian organisations that are hostile to his country.