Trump White House staffer Sebastian Gorka worked with anti-Semitic leaders in Hungary: report

Sebastian Gorka has been called Islamophobic for his stance on Islam, but his views on Jews may be coming in focus

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published February 24, 2017 7:25PM (EST)

Sebastian Gorka   (Getty/Alex Wong)
Sebastian Gorka (Getty/Alex Wong)

President Donald Trump's deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka — who is perhaps best known for his insistence that Islam is an inherently violent religion, despite lacking any academic expertise on the faith — is now being accused of anti-Semitism. In an administration that already faces charges of anti-Semitism, this is an accusation that raises more questions about the government.

According to an investigation by the Forward, a New York-based news organization catering to the Jewish community, Gorka "had close ties then to Hungarian far-right circles, and has in the past chosen to work with openly racist and anti-Semitic groups and public figures" between 2002 and 2007.

The Forward cited a long list of examples, including:

  • In 2006 Gorka became involved with a protest group known as the Hungarian National Committee as a press coordinator, translator, and general adviser during Hungary's widespread anti-government protests. One of its leaders was László Toroczkai, who as head of the 64 Counties Youth Movement, which wanted to restore Hungary's pre-World War I borders, had been editor of a newspaper that in 2004 referred to Jews as "Galician upstarts" who "are sucking on our blood, getting rich off our blood."
  • In 2007, after serving as an adviser to the right-wing nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán, Gorka helped found a political party known as the New Democratic Coalition. Two of its three co-founders, Tamás Molnár and Attila Bégány, had been influential former members of an anti-Semitic party called Jobbik. The New Democratic Coalition's stated goals included "bringing Christianity" into the secular Hungarian constitution. Although Gorka told the Forward that he "what they did after I left Hungary is not something I followed," the activities in question occurred before he formed the New Democratic Coalition with them.
  • In 2006 and 2007, Gorka wrote a number of articles for a newspaper known as Magyar Demokrata, whose editor-in-chief is prominent anti-Semite András Bencsik. As the American State Department wrote in 2004, "the weekly newspaper Magyar Demokrata published anti-Semitic articles and featured articles by authors who have denied the Holocaust." By 2007, Bencsik helped found the Hungarian Guard, a paramilitary group which committed acts of physical violence against Hungary's Roma community — including murders in 2008 and 2009 — and was eventually banned. Gorka told The Forward that he was "unfamiliar with Bencsik."

In addition to being Trump's deputy assistant, Gorka is also part of the Strategic Initiatives Group, an in-house think tank run by chief strategist Steve Bannon that helps formulate policies for the president. Gorka was first hired by Breitbart because Bannon noticed him.

Interestingly, when Gorka was asked about the Trump administration's refusal to specifically mention the Jewish people in its statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day, he defended them by arguing that "of course it’s about the Holocaust because that’s what the statement’s about. It’s only reasonable to twist it if your objective is to attack the president."

Read the full report at the Forward.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Anti-semitism Donald Trump Sebastian Gorka