In Hungary, some left-wing Jews are ready to work with a far-right party led by a former neo-Nazi

BUDAPEST (JTA) — In 2011, Hungary’s largest Jewish group called on the Justice Ministry to ban the far-right Jobbik party, describing it as “anti-Semitic” and “fascist.”

Now some in the Jewish community, and even inside Mazsihisz, see Jobbik as a legitimate partner for effecting democratic change, despite its blunt racism.

Despite some attempts at rehabilitation, racism still appears to be part of Jobbik’s political DNA. Its current leader, Tamas Sneider, is a former skinhead who confessed to beating a Roma person in 1992 with metal cables in an allegedly racist attack. In a 2013 speech in parliament, Jobbik’s second in command, Marton Gyongyosi, called for drawing up a list of all Hungarian Jews because they are “security risks.”

But the political landscape has shifted. There is growing frustration with the ruling party, the right-wing Fidesz, and its iron grip on power. Anti-Fidesz left-wingers, including within Mazsihisz, have turned toward Jobbik as a potential partner.

Rabbi Shmuel Glitsenstein, one of 17 rabbis working for the Chabad-affiliated EMIH rabbinical group in Hungary, strongly disagrees with the idea that Fidesz is a threat to Jews.

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