Key Trump Adviser Has Disturbing Ties to Anti-Semitic Groups
Sebastian Gorka, who was named deputy assistant to the president in January and who worked for Steve Bannon at Breitbart, collaborated with members of a neo-Nazi political party in Hungary and even wears a medal associated with the nation’s Nazi collaborationist regime during World War II. He’s also on Bannon’s controversial Strategic Initiatives Group, a pseudo think tank within the White House that is likely an attempt to supersede the National Security Council when it makes recommendations that Bannon and Trump don’t like.
A recent investigation by Forward details how Gorka has close ties to far-right Hungarian nationalists. In 2007, he collaborated with former prominent members of the deeply anti-Semitic Jobbik Party in Hungary to form a new political party, the New Democratic Coalition, which failed to take off. Gorka also published articles in a racist and anti-Semitic newspaper and attended events with “some of Hungary’s most notorious extreme-right figures,” Forward discovered.
There is no question that the Jobbik Party is overtly anti-Semitic. The party was formed in 2003 and went on to ride a nationalist wave in Hungary. In 2013, Al Jazeera put out a shocking documentary on rising fascism in the country that has a nationalist leader, Viktor Orban, who is sympathetic to the far-right wing of the nationalist spectrum (and whom Gorka advised). The film relates how neo-Nazi paramilitary militias intimidated and even murdered Roma people, sometimes occupying Roma villages. The country also had de facto labor camps where Roma were forced to do manual labor for less than the minimum wage.
The last time Roma and Jews were sent to labor camps, the Nazis were doing it.
“Hungary’s fascist past is undergoing a makeover,” says the narrator. Rallies in central Budapest commemorate the Nazi SS units that helped Hungary send hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths at Auschwitz.
In 2012, one Jobbik member of parliament proposed a bill to create a registry of Jews in Hungary. Gorka’s collaboration with fierce bigots like those in the Jobbik Party, along with his previous political work in Hungary, elevated a far-right, racist ideology, spreading hate and anti-Semitism. Now he’s working in the White House.
Donald Trump has often had a strange aversion to explicitly calling out anti-Semitic acts, which have quickly increased since Trump won the presidency, despite having a son-in-law who is Jewish and a daughter in Ivanka who converted. The president has come under scrutiny after failing to name Jews as victims of the Holocaust and taking days to say anything about a rash of bomb threats to Jewish synagogues and community centers and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. Most recently, Trump appeared to imply that these anti-Semitic attacks were the "reverse,” staged to make Trump and his supporters look bad.
Some think one reason for Trump’s troubling silence and conspiracy theories is that he doesn’t want to alienate some of his biggest fans, who are neo-Nazi members of the racist so-called alt-right. Another possible explanation is that anti-Semitism coming from the heart of his administration is guiding his moves.
The influence that Gorka, also an Islamophobe, has in the Trump administration is troubling considering the hateful and bigoted company he keeps there. Bannon is a prime example of hate, but another key adviser, Stephen Miller, is a young and outspoken nationalist and Islamophobe (who’s Jewish). Before joining Trump’s campaign, Miller worked for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Bannon credited with laying the groundwork for America’s populist nationalist movement long before Trump entered politics.
Bannon has sought to ally the Trump administration with far-right nationalist movements in Europe, including those in England, France and Austria. Breitbart has an office in London and is setting up branches in Paris and Berlin, seeking to propel nationalism in those countries in much the same way it does in the U.S.
Trump’s top adviser has commended Vladimir Putin for Russia’s nationalism, saying that “strong countries and strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbors.” Hungary, a fiercely nationalist country with an increasingly friendly relationship with Russia, would fit that description.
Hungary just began building a second wall at its border with Serbia and Croatia to keep out migrants, having already built a barbed wire fence there in 2015. (Breitbart London cheered the fence’s “effectiveness” that year.) The government is suing the European Union for imposing a refugee quota on Hungary. Orban wants to ban all refugees in his country, having said that migrants are “poison” and that “every single migrant poses a public security and terror risk.”
Unsurprisingly, Orban called Trump’s security policies “valiant.” After Trump’s inauguration, Orban sent the new president a congratulatory letter praising his policies of border control and migration. The two nations have “a historic opportunity to shape the future together,” he wrote. Trump responded by saying that the U.S. and Hungary can overcome challenges “through partnership” and achieve “common goals.”
With Orban an ally and neo-Nazi sympathizer Gorka advising the president on foreign policy and sitting on Bannon’s shadow National Security Committee, the White House is even more dangerous than before.