Hungarian lawmaker renews blood libel

Hungarian Jewish leaders issued a strongly worded protest against a speech by a far-right lawmaker who claimed that Jews were implicated in a notorious blood libel case in northern Hungary 130 years ago.

In a five-minute speech before parliament, Zsolt Barath of the extreme-right Jobbik party cited the 1882 blood libel case in the village of Tiszaeszlar in which 15 local Jews were accused of murdering a Hungarian girl, Eszter Solymosi. The case triggered widespread anti-Semitic hysteria, but the Jews were acquitted after a lengthy trial.

In his speech, Barath questioned the outcome of the trial and said the culprits had never been determined. “The Jewry and the leadership of the country were severely implicated in the case,” he said, adding that the verdict acquitting the Jews had been due to “outside pressure.”

In a protest letter to the parliamentary leadership, the senior leaders of Hungary’s umbrella Jewish organization, Mazshisz, called Barath’s speech “straight from the dark Middle Ages” and demanded that government authorities “immediately take such legislative and other steps” to prevent and penalize such speeches. Opposition parties called on Barath to resign. — jta