Hungarian fans at Wednesday's match
Hungarian fans at Wednesday's match
Text size
related tags

Hungarian authorities still have not apologized for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents that took place at an August 15 soccer match between the national teams of Israel and Hungary in Budapest. During the so-called friendly match, a warm-up for both teams in advance of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, Hungarian fans turned their backs on the field during the singing of “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, and waved Iranian and Palestinian flags.

Fans who attended the match told Haaretz of booing throughout the game, which ended in a 1-1 draw. There were also chants of “Palestine, Palestine,” “stinking Jews,” “Buchenwald” and “Heil Benito Mussolini.”

“It wasn't a group a crazies, but the entire crowd," said one of those present.

The incident was not an isolated case, Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, told Haaretz. “Hooliganism of this kind is indicative of the rise of anti-Semitism in Hungary today,” he said, adding that it is encouraged by the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party that denies Hungarian complicity in Holocaust crimes and supports Iran. Jobbik first gained seats in the Hungarian parliament two years ago, and now is the country's third-largest political party.

Hungarian anti-Semitism appears to have intensified in recent weeks, after Knesset Speaker Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin withdrew the invitation of Hungarian Parliament Speaker László Kövér to a Jerusalem ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raul Wallenberg, the late Swedish diplomat instrumental in saving many Hungarian Jews during World War II. Rivlin's move followed revelations that Kövér had attended a memorial for a WWII anti-Semitic Hungarian nationalist. Hungarian President Janos Ader attended the ceremony in Kövér's place.

The atmosphere had been tense ever since the Israeli team arrived in Hungary, in the wake of recent threats against Israelis traveling abroad and growing Hungarian anti-Semitism. National team coach Eli Guttman said that there had been “warnings about possible terrorist attacks, and reported that police on motorcycles escorted the team after the game.

Despite the threats, Football Association head Avi Luzon said that Israel would continue to play overseas matches. “We have no other country, and we are proud to represent Israel anywhere in the world – particularly in this country, in which many Jews were murdered.”