Csanad Szegedi, 30, once the face and spokesperson for the far-right Jobbik Party in Hungary, claimed Jews were buying up the country and destroying Hungarian property while making anti-Semitic remarks until he unearthed a family secret.
The Hungarian nationalist is of Jewish decent.
Szegedi announced in June that his mother’s parents were World War II survivors, making him Jewish under Jewish law, despite the fact that he was raised Presbyterian. Szegedi’s grandmother survived Auschwitz and Dachau, his grandfather worked in Jewish labor camps and the two had a Jewish orthodox wedding, but decided to hide their faith from their children and grandchildren. Since Szegedi’s announcement this summer, several news outlets have reported that Szegedi has contacted a Hungarian Jewish rabbi for guidance, in light of the fact that his political career is on the decline, as well as his business dealings in which he sold Hungarian nationalist paraphernalia. The Jobbik party is now avoiding him at all costs.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Szegedi met with a felon who claimed to have information that proved Szegedi was of Jewish descent in 2010. Zoltan Ambrus, convicted on weapons and explosives charges, taped the conversation as a part of an “internal Jobbik power struggle” that aimed to oust Szegedi from his Jobbik positions. The tape is said to include Szegedi bribing Ambrus with European Union (EU) money and a position with the EU to keep the information to himself. Szegedi claims the tape was tampered with and that he did not offer a bribe. Since his public acknowledgement, Szegedi has been forced to resign from his Jobbick Party affiliations and has been asked to give up his parliament seat, a seat that he hasn’t and doesn’t plan to relinquish.
“Jobbik does not investigate the heritage of its members of leadership, but instead takes in consideration what they have done for the nation,” Jobbik President Gabor Vona said to the AP.
It is the alleged bribe that has moved the party to disassociate with Szegedi.
Szegedi rose to prominence around 2007, when he was a co-founder of the Hungarian Guard, a group influenced by a former pro-Nazi party that arose at the end of WWII. The group was disbanded in 2009, about six years after Szegedi joined the nationalist and anti-Semitic, but popular, far-right, Jobbik party in 2003.
What would have been the outcome of this situation if there was no bribe involved?
If Szegebi would have come clean, the party might have made an even bigger bribe to keep their face clean. Or, they would have forced him into a similar early retirement. His grandparents planned to take their ancestry to the grave, despite, most likely, being aware, of their grandson’s affiliations. How is he to blame?
Some Hungarian people have kept their Jewish roots a secret because of Hungary’s communist history and affiliation WWII Nazis. Szegedi is of Jewish ancestry and Hungarian nationality, but he is no more a Jew in faith than a person who was baptized as a baby is automatically a Christian. Jews, however, can be regarded as a people culturally, which still preserves a problem in Szegedi’s case. Szegedi apologized for any disrespectful comments he may have made, but denies making explicitly anti-Semitic remarks, and plans on taking a hajj-like trip to Auschwitz to pay his dues.
Szegedi may have a hard time finding a place to belong for awhile, but hopefully his story will serve as a lesson on how not to make a living, or, at the least, move people to check their facts.