Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin announced Sunday that the planned visit of his Hungarian counterpart has been called off due to the latter's participation in a ceremony honoring a Nazi sympathizer.
The memorial service for Jozsef Nyiro, a World War II member of Hungary’s parliament whom Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel called a “fascist ideologue” and “an anti-Semite,” was held in Romania in late May.
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Hungarian National Assembly Speaker Laszlo Kover attended the ceremony along with Secretary of State for Culture Geza Szocs and Gabor Vona, the leader of the far-right Jobbik party.
Laszlo was scheduled to visit Israel in July to participate in a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who led an extensive and successful mission to save the lives of nearly 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.
"We were appalled by the reports saying you chose to attend a ceremony honoring the author Jozsef Nyiro," Rivlin wrote Kover. "In doing so you declared your sympathy for a person whose party, as part of the Hungarian regime, cooperated with the Nazi murderers in realizing their plan to annihilate the Jewish people."
Towards the end of his letter, the Knesset speaker wrote, "Anyone who participates in such an event cannot possibly then take part in an event to honor 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."
Nyiro served as a lawmaker in the Hungarian parliament during its World War II alliance with Nazi Germany. He fled the advancing Soviets in 1945 and settled in Spain, where he died and was buried in 1953.
Nyiro was also a poet, and his works are still being read in Hungary and are included in the list of authors recommended for schools.
AP contributed to the report