NEW YORK - Despite accusations of anti-Semitism that marred his White House appointment, Sebastian Gorka was greeted by cheers as he took the stage at the Jerusalem Post's annual conference in New York City on Sunday.
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President Donald Trump appointed Gorka as his deputy assistant on January 20, the day he was inaugurated. Gorka, born in London to Hungarian parents, came under fire for his ties to anti-Semitic far-right Hungarian groups, including one that the U.S. State Department considers a Nazi-linked organization.
He was also criticized for wearing a medal of the Hungarian Nazi collaborationist regime Vitézi Rend, which ruled the country during World War II.
At the conference, Gorka's arrival to the stage generated more excitement than any of the speakers before him. He began his speech by saying that he was proud to wear the medal, which he said was awarded to his father by “anti-communist members of a splinter order.”
Gorka pointed out that his father had helped Hungarian Jewish children during the Holocaust. “My father escorted his fellow Jewish schoolmates who were forced to wear the Star of David to school every day, to stop them from being harassed by German soldiers,” he said.
He went even further in defending the Vitézi Rend. “There are members of this order who were recognized as the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem,” he said, referring to the recognition given by the Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel to non-Jews who saved Jews during World War II.
“Nobody found one sentence that I have said that is anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli," Gorka said to the audience. "You will find the opposite. And because we are pro-Israel, we must be attacked, whether it’s the president or Steve Bannon or Steve Miller or myself."
"We are friends of Israel," he continued to another round of applause.
Gorka, who worked in Hungary’s Ministry of Defense and became a U.S. citizen only five years ago, flatly denied rumors that he will be leaving the White House following the reports of Vitézi Rend ties. “There is fake news, and then there is very fake news,” he said, adding that he “will be in the White House as long as president has use for me.”