Hungarian journalist agrees to return state honor, denies anti-Semitism

A Hungarian journalist who made anti-Semitic statements has agreed to return a state honor, which he said the government wanted to revoke due to pressure from Israel and the United States.

Ferenc Szaniszlo, who has regaled viewers of Echo TV with conspiracy theories on Israel and Jews, told the Hungarian news website on March 20 that he will comply with a request by Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog to return the Táncsics Award for journalists, which the minister gave him on March 15.

Balog asked Szaniszlo — who has referred to Roma as “apes” and suggested that he regarded Jews as “garbage” — to return the honor on March 19 following an outcry in Hungary and beyond, in which Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Ilan Mor, added his voice to those who criticized the move.

“The minister handed out [the award] with a friendly smile, and then a few hours later, he took it back,” the website quoted Szaniszlo as saying. He denied he was a racist and said he was “a victim of machinations by Israel and the United States, which are for some reason so afraid.”

He added: “I stand up for Palestine, just like Obama” and ”I exposed the truth about September 11, about the Kennedy murder, about Diana’s murder, and that pains them.”