Israel withdraws Hungary speaker invite in Nazi row
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, attends a session at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Wednesday, June 6, 2012. AP PhotoThe speaker of Israel's Knesset has withdrawn an invitation to his Hungarian counterpart to join a parliamentary ceremony, to protest his participation in an event honouring a pro-Nazi writer.
Israel's foreign ministry confirmed Monday that the Hungarian speaker of parliament Laszlo Kover was no longer welcome at the ceremony next month honouring Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved Jews during World War II.
Israeli speaker Reuven Rivlin rescinded the invitation in a June 20 letter to Kover, criticising his participation in an event honouring writer Jozsef Nyiro.
"We in Israel were appalled by the shocking news that you chose to participate in the event honouring the memory of the anti-Semitic writer Jozsef Nyiro," Rivlin wrote.
Nyiro's party, he added, "cooperated with the German Nazi murderers in realising their programme to annihilate the Jewish people." "Anyone who participates in such an event cannot possibly then take part in an event to honour a man like Raoul Wallenberg, a beacon of humanity, who saved Jews, who is a symbol of the struggle against Nazi Germany and its collaborators, one of whom you chose to identify with and pay homage to." Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP that Hungary's president would represent his country at the Knesset event next month instead.
Kover's participation in the event honouring Nyiro has already caused controversy, with Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel citing it in a decision to return Hungary's highest honour earlier this month.
Nyiro supported Hungary's 1920-1944 dictator and Hitler ally Miklos Horthy as well as Ferenc Szalasi, the leader of the brutal Arrow Cross regime installed by the Nazis after the ouster of Horthy in 1944.
Romania has thwarted plans for a reburial of Nyiro's remains but a religious commemoration took place instead, and was attended by Kover as well as by Gabor Vona, leader of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party.
Romanian-born Wiesel, who is of Hungarian descent, was presented with Hungary's highest award, the Order of Merit, Grand Cross, by president Ferenc Madl in 2004.