Anti-Zionist rabbis support controversial Hungarian MP’s London visit

Gabor Vona

The BBC has been accused of dishonesty in its reporting on the visit of Hungarian politician Gabor Vona to London, writes Eisa Ali.

The leader of the Jobbik Party was visiting London to speak to Hungarians living and working in the UK. His arrival was preceded by a wave of media coverage describing him as a racist, an Islamophobe, a far-right radical and an anti-semite, all claims he stridently denied.

But Mr Vona has previously spoken of his respect for Islam and sent a letter to the Turkish embassy stating his admiration for Turkey and Islam and rejecting anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish sentiments (which has a legacy in Eastern Europe, rooted in opposition to Ottoman imperial expansionism). He has also stated his support for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In 2010 he said: “There’s only one culture left which seeks to preserve its traditions: it is the Islamic world. And of course I do not favour suicide bombers and ruthless wars but at the same time I declare that today the mankind’s last remaining bastions of traditional culture- experiencing the transcendent in everyday life – is the Islamic world. I say this as a Roman Catholic man… If Islam fails the lights will completely go out.”

Naturei Karta are pro Palestinian rights
Naturei Karta are pro Palestinian rights

He has also said that if his party were to come into power they would come into conflict with the IMF, United States and Israel in their bid to reform Hungary’s finances and economy.

In the face of this concerted campaign against the Jobbik movement, Vona received a call in advance from the Naturei Karta (NK), a group of Orthodox Jews known for their strident Anti-Zionist stances. They sent a message to Vona, supporting his right to protest without being intimidated.

When news emerged of protests targeting the Jobbik gathering point in Holborn, a group of NK supporters turned up to show their support to Vona. They gathered across the road as protesters gathered outside the entrance to the station and blocked Vona and around 200 supporters in. Mr Vona later moved to Hyde Park Speaker’s corner where he addressed his supporters.

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Naturei Karta

In a telephone interview on Monday afternoon, the head of Naturei Karta UK, Rabbi Ahron Cohen said “I met him (Vona) last year. He has some controversial views but he isn’t as bad as they are making out” adding “We were protesting against the aggressive tactics of the pro-Zionist camp in their objections to Jobbick and Mr Vona”.

During their coverage of the incident, however, the BBC carried a report showing pictures of the incident. In usual fashion the NK protestors carried signs stating they were orthodox jews against Zionism and supportive of Palestine. However the BBC pictures cut out the signs, simply showing the man standing on the street. A caption under the photo states that the men had come out to protest against Jobbik.

“The BBC ignored their signs and appeared to intentionally misrepresent the purpose of their stand, stating that they were there to demonstrate against Jobbick. “ Mr Cohen stated.

“This misrepresentation was also picked up by other media outlets, totally distorting our message.I have lodged a complaint with the BBC and await the outcome.”

As someone who was covering the incident, it is impossible to see how anybody could have misrepresented their intentions. It’ll be interesting to see how the BBC responds.

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