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Anti-Semitic Hungarian Leader Uncovers Jewish Roots

Anti-Semitic Hungarian Leader Uncovers Jewish Roots

Once in a while, a really incredible story hits the news — and shows us that even people we might have thought were beyond redemption aren’t as far removed from us as we think. Csanad Szegedi’s journey as the descendant of Holocaust survivors is one of those stories.

Szegedi is a Hungarian politician with a long history of making anti-Semitic statements to the media. He’s made disgusted comments about the “Jewishness” of Hungary’s political class and accused Jews of “buying up” the country. He was a prominent leader of the Jobbik Party, one of the few blatantly anti-Semitic movements in Europe. The party’s presidental candidate once publicly referred to Israeli Jews as “lice-infested, dirty murderers.”

It’s not surprising that, given this environment, Szegedi did everything he could to hide his Jewish roots after being confronted with them in 2010. In a taped conversation with a convicted felon, Szegedi was apparently blindsided when the other man offered up documents proving that Szegedi is actually Jewish through his mother’s side. It turns out his grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor, and his grandfather lived through forced labor camps.

Initially, Szegedi tried to cover the revelations up by offering to pay the convict to keep quiet. Instead, the tape was passed on to other members of the Jobbik party in an effort to undermine Szegedi’s credibility — and it worked. He’s been forced to resign from most of his party positions after going public with his story this August.

The Jobbik party claims he lied about his background, but Szegedi tells a different story. After WWII, he says, his grandparents hid their Jewish heritage to avoid further persecution. They were the only survivors in their extended families, so there was no way for him to know differently. He was even raised in the Presbyterian faith. It wasn’t until December 2011, Szegedi says, that his grandmother spoke to him honestly about her experiences in Auschwitz.

Since then, he’s had a crisis of conscience. He’s issued a public apology for any past statements that have offended the Jewish community and pledged to visit Auschwitz to pay his respects. He also met with a prominent orthodox Rabbi in the Jewish Hungarian community.

Rabbi Slomo Koves told the Associated Press that the meeting was stressful, but “[a]s 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.”

It’s been a challenging time for Szegedi, both professionally and personally — he’s been abandoned by his colleagues and even his personal assistant since his background became public. But it’s also an opportunity to grow.

Rabbi Koves told the Wall Street Journal, “I wish for him that he be able to redeem the past years. He can do that best, if, apart from getting to know his own roots, he does everything in his power to keep others from being led astray, like he had been.”

 

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Photo credit: Roy Lindman via Wikipedia.org

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88 comments

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9:01PM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

thanks for posting

7:13PM PDT on Oct 15, 2012

pretty funny. shaking my head at so many people. racism and discrimination truly brings out the hypocrites

8:14PM PDT on Sep 25, 2012

Interesting story. To find out that the people you hate is you has to be hard to deal with. Hopefully, he will learn to respect his heritage.

12:39PM PDT on Sep 12, 2012

Those of us who frequent Care2 have come to just ignore Elaine. She is a sad, not very intelligent person who constantly posts nonsense comments on a number of different topics.

7:43PM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

Hillary I don't think for a minute that you are an idiot. I don't think being Jewish is actually considered being a race, though some may differ. It is my impression that they are an ethnicity, and as an ethnic group they also maintain, for the most part, some form of the Jewish faith, known as Judaism. It is one of the Abrhamic traditions. In fact the original one that Islam and christianity came from.

Saying one loathes the faith of relatives is very different from causing in a wider scale hate and loathing to the point that it involves and interferes with the passage of just laws, and engages in discrimination.

5:29PM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

Ok, am I an idiot? I thought being Jewish was a religion not a 'race'? So in all honesty, what does it matter?
A long line of my family were/is Jehovah's Witnesses, and I find nothing wrong in saying how much I loathe that religion...so how is it any different from what he's done?

And before it starts, I had family in concentration camps too.

11:28AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

I happened across an article about "crypto-Jews" somewhere in the mid "90's, referring to a fellow in the American southwest, who was an anti-semite, and turned out to have completely Jewish roots, going back some centuries,, to when his forbears left Spain, to escape the inquisition.
His sister found a comment in the family bible, written by their grandmother, which she then discussed with their mother. The comment was "Nosotros somos Judios," (We are Jews).
This, then, made sense of the "unusual" way her father, or grandfather, slaughtered cattle, in effect in the kosher way.
Elaine A., the first part of your comment, despite the poor English, seems to make sense, but the rest seems to be a total non-sequitor, inanity!

3:23AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

I agree karma is a bitch...

12:23AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Thanks for the article!

12:16AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Hard way to learn a good lesson..walking in another's shoes!!!

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