by Jim Lobe
In the latest and most damning chapter in the saga of Sebastian Gorka, the Forward newspaper has discovered a 2007 video recording in which the Trump national-security aide and foreign-policy spokesman voices support for a violent racist and anti-Semitic militia, the Hungarian Guard (Magyar Garda).
The group was subsequently banned by Hungary’s courts for the threat it posed to minority groups in Hungary; it was also condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for attempting to promote an “essentially racist” legal order.
According to the Forward, the recording was taken from a television interview of Gorka who had just co-founded a new political party, the New Democratic Coalition (UDK), with two former leaders of the far-right Jobbik party.
Asked directly on the TV interview program if he supports the move by Jobbik, a far-right anti-Semitic party, to establish the militia, Gorka, appearing as a leader of his own newly formed party, replies immediately, “That is so.” The Guard, Gorka explains is a response to a “a big societal need.”
The Guard’s creation, according to the article, created considerable anxiety in the Jewish community in Hungary, as well as the Roma people, who proved to be the Guard’s main target during its existence. According to the Forward’s account:
During the 11-minute interview, which aired on Hungary’s Echo TV, Gorka dismissed concerns expressed by the Jewish community, and in particular fears that the Guard provoked among Hungarian Holocaust survivors. As is often the case in Hungary, the interviewer refers to Holocaust survivors obliquely, as “people who experienced 1944” — when hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps — or as those who experienced “the Arrow Cross regime.”
Many such people, the interviewer noted, “are saying now is the time to leave Hungary. So in effect [the establishment of the Hungarian Guard] is facilitating the flaring-up of anti-Semitism?”
“This is a tool,” Gorka replied. “This type of accusation is the very useful tool of a certain political class.”
The Guard was well known for its members’ anti-Semitism. Members often attend memorial ceremonies for World War II-era Hungarian fascists. In a 2008 speech, Istvan Dosa, who served within the Guard as a high-ranking captain, referred to Jews as “Zionist rats” and as “locsusts” while also discussing “Zionist-Bolshevik genocide” and calling Hungarian Jews “nation-destroyers.”
The Forward article, by the intrepid Budapest-based Lili Bayer, noted that Gorka’s support for the militia appeared consistent with various subsequent statements by his UDK party which Gorka created in part as a result of disappointment with the Fidesz party of Viktor Orban, currently Hungary’s proudly “illiberal” prime minister, over its failure to confront in a more militant way the then-ruling socialist-liberal government.
LobeLog first disclosed that Gorka had on various occasions, including at an inaugural ball, sported the medal issued by Vitezi Rend, a “knighthood” created in 1920 by the ultra-nationalist and openly anti-Semitic Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy. Since then speculation over the British-born self-described counter-terrorism expert’s political affiliations, particularly during the time he spent in his parents’ native Hungary from 1992 to 2008, has grown. While he clearly allied himself with right-wing parties during that period, he has vehemently denied that he supported anti-Semitic individuals or groups or personally held anti-Semitic beliefs. He has also denied that he swore an oath of lifelong loyalty to Vitezi Rend despite the declarations of three of the order’s senior officials that he had.
Gorka has enjoyed the support of a number of defenders, notably from Breitbart.com, where he served under then-CEO Stephen Bannon as national-security editor, as well as other right-wing media or neo-conservative organizations and individuals, including the long-time head of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein; PJ Media; Forbes;Tablet magazine; Newsmax, and Mark Dubowitz and Jonathan Schanzer (who tweeted their backing for Gorka early in the controversy) of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Some of these backers stressed that his long-standing support for Israel disproved the notion that he harbored anti-Semitic views. (Gorka is currently scheduled to be the top White House official to address the annual conference of Christians United for Israel in July.)
At the same time, several Jewish, human and civil rights groups called for Gorka to be suspended or dismissed from his White House posts. Whether he can survive these latest revelations remains to be seen.