Budapest to rethink naming street after anti-Semite
Honoring Cecile Tormay would cast doubt on Hungarian pledge to fight anti-Semitism, says World Jewish Congress head Ron Lauder.
The mayor of Budapest ordered a re-examination of a controversial decision to name a street after an anti-Semitic author.
Maria Szucs Ciuc, a spokeswoman for Mayor Istvan Tarlos, told the news site FN24.hu on Thursday that the mayor had ordered a re-examination of the city council’s decision to name a street after Cecile Tormay, a Hungarian writer who died in 1937. Both the World Jewish Congress and the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz, protested the decision.
Under the Local Government Act, the mayor may reverse decisions deemed “offensive.”
Ronald Lauder, the WJC president, said in a statement that the decision to honor Tormay “puts into question the pledge given to the Jewish community that anti-Semitism will be fought vigorously by the Hungarian authorities.”
In a separate statement, Mazsihisz said Tormay had “inspired” many anti-Semitic thinkers and leaders in Hungary, including Miklos Horthy, the country’s pro-Nazi ruler during World War II, when 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered.
The decision to name the street after Tormay came days after reports of three anti-Semitic incidents directed at Mazsihisz and one of its communities.
On Monday, police removed a package containing white powder from the Mazsihisz main office.
On Sunday, worshippers discovered anti-Semitic slogans painted on the facade of a synagogue in Vac, a city 20 miles north of Budapest. A nearby Jewish cemetery was desecrated and at least two of its headstones were smashed. Police are investigating all three incidents, the MTI news agency reported.
Earlier this month, Mazsihisz hosted the World Jewish Congress General Assembly amid protests by hundreds of neo-Nazis and ultranationalists. Many of the protesters were affiliated with the Jobbik party, Hungary’s third largest. Hungary’s Jewish watchdog on anti-Semitism, the Action and Protection Foundation, or TEV, has termed Jobbik “a neo-Nazi” party.