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Whoops: Anti-Semitic Hungarian Politician Discovers He’s Jewish

Anyone remember that episode of the Chappelle Show about a blind African American white supremacist? Apparently, the idea wasn’t so far-fetched. Take the story of Csanad Szegedi, a (now former) leader of Hungary’s Jobbik Party–an organization that sprinkles its campaign materials with overtly anti-Semitic messages. In his heyday, Szegedi railed passionately against the “Jewishness” of the political class, and his party’s presidential candidate reportedly referred to Israeli Jews as “lice-infested, dirty murderers.” Have you guessed the punchline yet? That’s right, Szegedi recently discovered that his mother was Jewish, which officially makes him a Jew–or, in the eyes of his party’s current presidential candidate, fifty percent dirty murderer.

Turns out that his grandmother survived Auschwitz and his grandfather spent time at several labor camps (!). After marrying in a Jewish ceremony, the couple managed to keep their religion and their past hidden from their children and grandchildren. Szegedi first received this crucial information about his roots from a prisoner in 2010. In the midst of what must have been an epic identity crisis, he managed to muster enough of his self-preservation instinct (and considerable sliminess) to make an attempt at squashing an epic PR disaster by bribing the prisoner to keep quiet. Alas, secrets like this don’t stay buried for long–by June of last year, mounting rumors and speculation forced Szegedi to publicly admit his Jewish heritage. He later resigned from his post with the Jobbik Party, and in the wake of the suspected bribery scandal he was also asked to step down from his seat in the European Parliament.

While this sordid business obviously spelled disaster for Szegedi’s political career, it may have had a positive effect on his karma and worldview. NPR reports that he met with Rabbi Shlomo Koves on Aug. 3., and after the meeting decided to plan a trip to Auschwitz. Szegedi also apologized “for any comments he had made against the Jewish community” and announced his plans to “pay…respects to the Holocaust martyrs” on that trip. We guess the transition from “murderers” to “martyrs” is easy to make once you realize that these people are your own flesh and blood.

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