Hungary’s Jewish community has decided to boycott a national Holocaust memorial program, over alleged Hungarian distortions to Shoah history.
Mazsihisz, the Association of Hungarian Jewish communities, decided Sunday in a 76 to 2 vote that it will “distance” itself from a 70th anniversary program Hungary is planning to commemorate deportations of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz.
In the vote, representatives said the government does “not take into consideration the sensitivities of those who went through the horror of the Holocaust.”
“Only if the Hungarian government changes its attitude toward the memory and research of the Holocaust” will the group decide to participate in the program, it said at the meeting.
The group issued three items it wants Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to address: the building of a controversial memorial in Budapest, marking the German occupation of Hungary; the role Sandor Szakaly plays as director of a government historical institute; and the erection of a Shoah memorial museum in a past Budapest train station.
Several Hungarian Jewish groups have already announced their intentions to follow suit with the boycott, saying they will not accept funds through the state-run Holocaust program Civil Fund.
“We are sad to have witnessed how in recent weeks the remembrance initiatives have become unworthy pawns in governmental political games as Hungary approaches its parliamentary elections,” a statement from the Bet Orim Reform congregation said. “Bet Orim does not wish to be part of this kind of political strategy.”
Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has announced its support for the boycott, with international relations direction Shimon Samuels saying in a letter to Orban: “Domestically Holocaust and contemporary anti-Semitism are a function of political mortgages with the extreme right. Memory cannot serve as a fig leaf for hate.”