23 July 2017

Why Israel and Zionism's Leaders Supports Viktor Orban's Anti-Semitic Campaign Against George Soros

Zionism has no objection to Orban Rehabilitating Hungary’s War-time pro-Nazi leader Miklos Horthy

The Main Enemy is Israel's human rights groups
Admiral Horthy and Hitler
In March 1989, in an article ‘Zionism and anti-Semitism’ [Return 1] I wrote, in respect of Israel’s warm relations with the neo-Nazi Junta in Argentina, which had tortured and murdered up to 3,000 left-wing Jews (as well as up to 30,000 non-Jewish socialists) between 1976 and 1983 that:

What Argentina demonstrates is that an anti-Semitic regime will also be authoritarian, semi-fascist and a creature of US imperialism. In short, one which the Israeli state is only too willing to do business with, politically, militarily and economically, its own Jews notwithstanding.’

The same could be said for Hungary today, which, with its 100,000 Jews is the largest such community in Eastern Europe.  Indeed the idea of helping stimulate a little anti-Semitism in Hungary order to ‘encourage’ its Jews to move to Israel must be almost irresistible to Zionism’s leaders.

Once again, given the choice between anti-Semites and those supporting universal values of human rights like B’tselem and Breaking the Silence, Zionism’s leaders prefer the former.
George Soros
Last week Benjamin Netanyahu paid a visit to Hungary to meet his good friend Prime Minister Viktor Orban.  Orban it was who was responsible for the erection of a barbed wire fence against Syrian refugees entering Hungary.  Netanyahu boasts of constructing a fence against African refugees trying to enter Israel from the Sinai desert.  Israel too refused to accept any Syrian refugees.  Clearly these two racists had a lot to talk about.

Just before Netanyahu set out on his travels, the Israeli Ambassador in Hungary, Yossi Amrani, in response to pressure from the Hungarian Jewish community, criticised Orban for an anti-Semitic campaign against the US billionaire and philanthropist, George Soros.  Soros grew up in Hungary as a child and he survived the Nazi dragnet and deportation to Auschwitz.  As a result of his experiences, which include the notorious collaboration between the Hungarian Zionists led by Rudolf Kasztner and the Nazi butchers under Eichmann, Soros became a non-Zionist.

Protesters demonstrate against Orbán’s education changes, outside the Central European University, founded by Soros. Photograph: Zoltan Balogh/AP
Soros’s major crime in the eyes of Zionism and Israel’s Right (which comprises some 90% of Israeli society), is that he has helped fund the liberal New Israel Fund and various human rights groups.  Soros has also funded various Open Society and anti-communist groups in Eastern European.  Viktor Orban also hates Soros.  His liberal Free University in Budapest has been the subject of a concerted campaign by Orban to close it down.  Budapest has seen a massive government funded poster campaign vilifying Soros.  The poster tells Hungarians that Soros  must not have the ‘last laugh’.  This is a thinly disguised reference to Hitler’s notorious ‘prophecy speech of January 30 1939, which he repeated on numerous occasions.
Campaign posters against George Soros at a subway station in Budapest, Hungary (Credit Pablo Gorondi/AP)
In his speech Hitler announced that he would
“once more be a prophet. If the international Jewish financiers inside and outside Europe should again succeed in plunging the nations into a world war, the result will not be the Bolshevisation of the earth and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation (vernichtung) of the Jewish race throughout Europe.” 

Hitler continued:
… I have often been a prophet in my life and was generally laughed at. During my struggle for power, the Jews primarily received with laughter my prophecies that I would someday assume the leadership of the state and ... then, among many other things, achieve a solution of the Jewish problem. I suppose that meanwhile the then surrounding laughter of Jewry in Germany is now choking in their throats.’
An anti-Soros billboard with a swastika and Soros’s name replaced by Viktor Orban’s, seen in Budapest, on July 17, 2017. (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)
Soros, is well known in Britain for his role in Black Wednesday when the pound was forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992, but not before Soros had made over $1 Billion at the Bank of England’s expense by selling sterling short.  Since then Soros has occupied the position of the demonic, all-powerful international Jewish financier, a figure much loved by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.

One of the main purveyors of this image of Soros is Glenn Beck, formerly of Fox TV.  I say formerly because even Fox TV was forced to fire Beck when his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories became too much.  You get a flavour of the type of politics I am referring to from the following interview with John Cardillo who is described as an ‘investigative blogger at JohnCardillo.com, President of PsyID’. 
Burnt out gas station in Fergusson Missouri
You may remember the riots at Fergusson, Missouri nearly 3 years ago.  You might think that the cause of those riots was the Police murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old Black teenager.  You would however be wrong.  It was all down to George Soros pulling the financial strings as the Jewish head of an ‘anti-American’ communist conspiracy. 

Glenn: Okay, so my question was radical Islamists, anti-Israel people, Communists, Socialists, will work together to destabilize Europe and the Western world, so now we’re looking at Ferguson. That fits into the Western world, and I wanted to know where is this push coming from, this anti-police push? Because I don’t believe that it’s actually ground, grassroots. So, I asked you to go in and look, who is starting the fire, and boy—

John: It’s interesting, isn’t it?

Glenn: It is. John: Well, you’re right. It’s the Islamists. It’s the Communists. It’s the anti-Americans, and it’s funded by a guy we all know, George Soros.

Glenn: What a surprise.

John: To the tune of $33 million that we can find.

Beck’s two-part “exposé” of George Soros, whom he called “The Puppet Master,” is held to have finally pushed Fox TV into firing him.  As Michelle Goldberg wrote in the Daily Beast, it was ‘a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles.’ 

Of course none of this stopped Beck being awarded the Zionist Organization of America's 2011 Defender of Israel Award or being invited to address Israel’s Knesset. Beck’s reception was akin to a “rock concert.” MK Michael ben-Ari, an ex-Kahanist (who had previously torn up a copy of the New Testament) said “I think Glenn Beck should take my seat in the Knesset.”

During the course of his two year stint at Fox, Beck had openly recommended the work of Nazi sympathiser Elizabeth Dilling, who had spoken of “Ike the kike” and Kennedy’s New Frontier as the “Jew Frontier.” Beck devoted an entire show to a conspiracy theory on bankers such as the Rothschilds, interviewing the conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who described the Czarist anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion “as accurately describing much of what is happening in our world today.” The Protocols, which were the basis of much of the Nazis’ anti-Semitism, were described by Norman Cohn as a Warrant for Genocide.  Beck accused Soros of being a “puppet master notorious for collapsing economies and regimes all around the world”  Beck has however a defence against the charge of anti-Semitism.  He also attacks Soros as an atheist and for being a critic of Israel.

It is often said that anti-Semites hide their anti-Semitism behind criticism of Israel and Zionism whereas the opposite is far more common.  Most anti-Semites today, of which Beck is a good example, hide their anti-Semitism behind support of Israel. 

Viktor Orban therefore was in very good company when he launched his campaign against Soros.  Far from Netanyahu criticising him for his anti-Semitism, quite the opposite took place and Israel’s Ambassador in Hungary Yossi Amrani was forced to withdraw his mild criticisms of Orban.

The attack on Soros was the least of Orban’s sins though.  His real crime has been the campaign by Orban and his Fidesz party to rehabilitate Admiral Horthy, Hungary’s ruler between 1920 and 1944 and the author of Hungary’s war-time alliance with Nazi Germany.  Horthy was quite open about the fact that he was an anti-Semite:

As regards the Jewish problem, I have been an anti-Semite throughout my life. I have never had contact with Jews. I have considered it intolerable that here in Hungary everything, every factory, bank, large fortune, business, theatre, press, commerce, etc. should be in Jewish hands, and that the Jew should be the image reflected of Hungary, especially abroad. Since, however, one of the most important tasks of the government is to raise the standard of living, i.e., we have to acquire wealth, it is impossible, in a year or two, to replace the Jews, who have everything in their hands, and to replace them with incompetent, unworthy, mostly big-mouthed elements, for we should become bankrupt. This requires a generation at least. [R Patai, the Jews of Hungary, p. 546]

Instead from 1938 onwards Horthy introduced three successive anti-Jewish acts, the last one of which in August 1941 outlawed sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews and defined as Jewish anyone with 2 or more Jewish grandparents.

In March 1944, after learning of Hungarian peace overtures to the Allies, German troops invaded its ally and set up a pro-Nazi government under Döme Sztójay, the Hungarian Ambassador to Germany.  
On May 15th the deportation of 437,000 Jews to Auschwitz began and it was not until July 7th that Horthy finally put an end to the deportations.  Virtually all Jews in the provinces had been deported but those in Budapest had largely escaped (although around 50,000 were to die at the hands of the Iron Cross government that the Nazis installed from October 23rd onwards).  Historians will argue over the actual responsibility of Horthy for the extermination of the bulk of Hungarian Jewry however it is indisputable that if Horthy was able to put an end to the deportations in early July he could have done so far sooner.  It was only with  a massive US bombardment of Budapest on July 2nd and what amounted to a ‘bombardment of Horthy’s conscience’ by the Pope, King Gustav of Sweden and many other world leaders, that the deportations were brought to an end.

The fact that Benjamin Netanyahu can not only sup with Viktor Orban but actually join in with the attack on George Soros shows the depth to which Zionism will go.  The fake condemnation of ‘anti-Semitism’ by Zionism in the West should not blind us to the fact that Zionism has no problems with genuine anti-Semitism, indeed it welcomes anti-Semitism in many cases.  It is only opposition to Israel and Zionism, to the racism and apartheid that Palestinians experience, that is deemed ‘anti-Semitism’.  Genuine Jew hatred can always be forgiven if the anti-Semite in question supports Israel.

Below are a number of articles from Ha’aretz, Israel’s only liberal daily, decrying the alliance between Netanyahu and the Israeli government and the Hungarian anti-Semites of Fidesz and Orban.
Tony Greenstein

The more nationalistic Israel becomes, the more its affection will grow for those who promote nationalism and xenophobia, even if they are anti-Semites, as seen in Netanyahu's dealings with Hungary's government

Haaretz Editorial Jul 13, 2017 3:04 AM

The Hungarian government’s announcement that it will remove posters denouncing Hungarian-born Jewish tycoon George Soros before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival in the country does not in any way mitigate the premier’s scandalous behavior in this matter.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his party, Fidesz, are conducting a nationalist, racist and Islamophobic election campaign. With rhetoric that is most familiar to the Israeli ear, they claim that Soros is funding civil society organizations and liberal nonprofits in Hungary. The Jewish community in Hungary has expressed concern that the campaign is encouraging anti-Semitism, and the Israeli ambassador in Hungary issued a condemnation and demanded the posters be removed. But the Hungarian right’s ideological partners among the Israeli right wing were infuriated by the ambassador’s announcement, as it ostensibly defended Soros, whom they see as assisting the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel.

Netanyahu, as usual, succumbed to the pressure, and his office ordered the Foreign Ministry to issue a clarification, stating that the earlier condemnation “in no way was meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”

Ultra-nationalism is and has always been inherently linked to anti-Semitism, including hatred of the “universal Jew,” whose very existence is seen as a threat to subvert the world’s division into nations. The behavior of the Netanyahu government shows that even Israel, the Jewish state, is not immune to this hatred.

Israelis don’t need Soros to know that Jews can be declared subversives in their own country. Those who advance universalist agendas and fight for human rights, including the rights of minorities and foreigners, are denounced in Israel as enemies. Their Jewishness is irrelevant to this loyalty test. Moreover, the more Israelis view the occupation not as a problem to resolve but as the flagship of Jewish nationalism, the more its opponents are perceived as enemies of the people.

It seems loyalty to Israel is being evaluated by new parameters in keeping with the spirit of the times. Two weeks ago Orban praised the Holocaust-era Hungarian ruler Miklos Horthy, who collaborated with the Nazis and under whom half a million Hungarian Jews were sent to the death camps. Israel protested Orban’s comments, but so as not to affect Netanyahu’s planned meeting with him next week, made do with the weak clarification offered by the Hungarian foreign minister.

The more nationalistic Israel becomes, the more the hatred of those carrying the banner of moral values and a universalist identity will grow, and they will be perceived as enemies even if they are Jews. At the same time, Israel’s affection will grow for those who promote nationalism and xenophobia, even if they are anti-Semites.

PM Netanyahu endorsed a campaign whose intent was clear: Soros, the Jew, and Orban's hate-figure, is Hungary's Enemy Number One. Hitler would have been gratified

Shimon Stein and Moshe Zimmerman Jul 13, 2017 3:24 PM
Adolf Hitler often referred to the trope of the 'Laughing Jew', the Nazi backstory to Hungary's anti-Soros poster campaign: Anti-Semitic Nazi poster auctioned in Munich, Germany. April 24, 2017. Matthias Schrader/AP

Adolf Hitler, November 8, 1942: 

"Today, countless [Jews] who laughed at that time, laugh no longer. Those who are still laughing now, also will perhaps laugh no longer soon... International Jewry will be recognized in all its demoniac peril." 

Hitler repeated this 'prophecy' many times from January 1939 onwards: that the 'laughing Jew' would be exterminated. By November 1942, the Holocaust was already no laughing matter. Nearly four million Jews had already been murdered.

Every literate person acquainted with the history of the Shoah is familiar with Hitler's repeated outbursts concerning the "laughing Jew." All the more, we should assume, must an Israeli, educated to remember the Shoah, be sensitive and alert when it comes to the anti-Semitic archetype of the laughing Jew.

With that historical context  and moral commitment in mind, Israel's Ambassador to Hungary Yossi Amrani, in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, reacted immediately to the posters blanketing the country in a campaign instigated by the ruling  Fidesz party, calling on the Hungarian people not to let George Soros "be the one who laughs last". Amrani stated: "The campaign not only evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear."

The intent behind the posters is clear: Soros, the Jew, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban's hate-figure, is Hungary's Enemy Number One. The allusion to Hitler's speech, conscious or not, is unambiguous and Amrani's protest against the men behind this poster was only natural. The Jewish community of Hungary is appalled and the ambassador of the country that claims to be the representative of the Jewish people reacted accordingly. 

How do we therefore explain the response of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, usually extremely sensitive to supposedly anti-Semitic expressions, who openly criticized his ambassador's justified protest?

He did it by "reinterpreting" Amrani's statement: First of all: Amrani's intent was not to delegitimize those who criticize Soros, i.e. Orban and the Fidesz party. Moreover: Soros is a person "who continuously undermines Israel's democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state", and for that, he deserves this reprimand.

The anti-Soros posters blanketing Budapest metro stations. The government-led ad campaign included billboards, posters and TV ads Pablo Gorondi/AP

Here we are: The Israeli government exculpates the Hungarian government, and turns the victim of an anti-Semitic attack, Soros, into the perpetrator, the common enemy.

In pursuing its national interest, Israel has struck a balance between realpolitik and moral politics, that is to say, a value-based policy. Not always an easy task, but an essential one, especially for the state that has taken upon itself to speak and fight for the Jewish people when it comes to combating anti-Semitism.

And so in the case of Hungary, while preserving Israeli national interests, there is absolutely no need to embrace politicians (and parties) who are nationalists, racists or anti-Semites, who disguise themselves as supporters of Israel, just because both parties fight against a "common enemy" – the Left (in this case, Soros). This explains the absurd alliance between Orban's Hungary and Netanyahu's Israel and the slap in the face of Hungarian Jewry, or better – in face of diaspora Jews wherever they live.

Only a year ago Netanyahu went so far as to put the blame on the Mufti of Jerusalem for generating the Final Solution. The same Netanyahu is not going to cancel his upcoming visit to "friendly" Hungary in spite of the fact that Prime Minister Orban recently praised another of  Hitler's collaborators, Admiral Miklos Horthy, who made a far more decisive contribution to Hitler's Final Solution than the Mufti.

Activists from the Egyutt (Together) party tear down an ad by the Hungarian government against George Soros in Budapest. July 12, 2017 Pablo Gorondi/AP
When the Hungarian government, under pressure, announced Wednesday that it would remove the posters from the public sphere, it did not apologize for their anti-Semitic character, but declared that their aim had already been achieved.  

Israel, usually quick at suggesting anti-Semitic motives from people who dare criticize its policies, be it the foreign ministers of Sweden or Germany, or even Israeli human rights NGOs, seems to turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism stemming from dubious "friends".

Fighting anti-Semitism is a fundamental plank of Israeli politics, but anti-Semitism should not be confused with legitimate criticism against Israeli policies; the fears of diaspora Jewry must be taken seriously; and last but not least, any Israeli  legitimization for populist right-wing parties in Europe, not least when they undermine the historical record of the Holocaust and the fight against contemporary anti-Semitism, must be avoided at all price.

Shimon Stein served as Israel's Ambassador to Germany 2000-7 and is research fellow at the INSS, Tel Aviv University

Moshe Zimmermann is a historian and Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Shimon Stein

Attacking Soros: Israel’s Unholy Covenant With Europe’s anti-Semitic Ultra-right

To crush ‘the ‘enemy within’, its leftist critics, Israel’s government will go all the way – complicity with Hungary’s anti-Soros campaign and spitting in the face of the Jewish diaspora included

Hillel Ben-Sasson Jul 12, 2017 2:18 PM

For more than a decade now, right wing NGOs such as Im Tirtzu and My Israel have been leading vehement campaigns against progressive philanthropies. They are enthusiastically assisted by politicians in the Likud and HaBayit HaYehudi parties.

For the right, such attacks kill two birds with one stone.

First, in the absence of a functioning center-left parliamentary opposition in Israel, attacks seek to delegitimize the most vocal opposition against government policies  - those that tend to originate in civil society.

Secondly, by shifting the focus to "the enemies within", Israel’s right-wing leadership – de facto in power for four consecutive decades – manages to evade wide public criticism against its stagnant governance and policies. Attacking the New Israel Fund or European governments who support human rights work in Israel served as an Archimedean inflection point to discredit many dozens of their grantees, rendering all as traitors in a wholesale manner.

The success of the right’s strategy has been so overwhelming that in public debates in Israel and the Diaspora today, right wingers have largely abandoned the practice of providing arguments and simply respond to challenges by arguing that their interlocutor is funded by the aforementioned ‘evil’ anti-Israeli forces and therefore not worthy of stating any claim.

You’d expect that, bearing in mind this ever-expanding attack on progressive foreign aid, George Soros’ global philanthropic Open Society Foundations, which embodies the kind of support the right demonizes, would become an obvious major target.

Yet, until last week, little to no attention was paid by the usual Israeli right-wing attackers to Soros or to OSF. In all probability, the reason for “sparing” Soros’ philanthropy thus far lay in the nature of their giving. Spending many millions on humanitarian causes and democracy-building around the wider Middle East, OSF’s activity in Israel specifically and in relation to it has always been limited.
Mass protest against the Hungarian government’s campaign against civil society organizations, Heroes Square, Budapest. April 12, 2017.Zoltan Balogh/AP
If Soros and the OSF were never prominent enough to merit a direct negative campaign for Israel’s diligent right wing, why now? The answer is not to be found in any of Soros’ recent actions, but rather in the shifting interests of Israel’s hard right.

Underlying the official assault on Soros and his alleged support of BDS against Israel is the growing alliance of Israeli right-wingers with Europe’s radical right.

It began with the disturbing welcome given by members of the Likud governing party to Austrian radical right politicians. Later on, similar ties were forged between more members of Israel’s right wing, mostly its national religious faction, and new partners in Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, the American alt-right and of course, Hungary. 

United around a shared hate of Arabs and Muslims, radical European right-wingers provided for certain Israeli politicians and activists a way out of their isolation in the international arena. In return, Israeli counterparts provided kosher certificates attesting that the foreign hardliners are not the anti-Semites they seem to be.

United by a shared hatred of Arabs and Muslims, radical European right-wingers offer the Israeli right legitimization: Hungarian PM Viktor Orban at the Fidesz Party congress, Budapest. Dec 13, 2015
United by a shared hatred of Arabs and Muslims, radical European right-wingers offer the Israeli right legitimization: Hungarian PM Viktor Orban at the Fidesz Party congress, Budapest. Dec 13, 2015Bloomberg

The naked truth regarding this unholy covenant was exposed when only two days after condemning the Hungarian prime minister’s vicious and openly anti-Semitic campaign against Soros, the Israeli government partly retracted and joined the choir against the Jewish billionaire and his progressive operations. It took no more than a handful of angry tweets from right-wing pundits to remind PM Netanyahu that his electoral base is not against the new anti-Semites, but rather consider them their next-of-kin. The fight against anti-Semitism could be discarded in order to make room for a shared negative portrait of Soros.

This move ought to be highly disturbing for anyone who believes in Israel and the Jewish project of national self-determination. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, one of Israel’s fundamental commitments was, and still is, the fight against anti-Semitism in all its guises and forms.

This is not only a way of protecting Israel and its international status from quasi-diplomatic forms of hidden anti-Semitism. It is also a core element of Israeli solidarity with Diaspora Jews. Abandoning this most basic tenet of Israel’s foundational core values and mission marks a dangerous slippery slope, that adds to the escalating rift between most U.S. Jews and the Israeli governing elites.  

To crush ‘the enemy within’, its leftist critics, Israel’s government will go all the way, anti-Semitism included: Im Tirtzu campaign targeted left-wing artists as fifth columnists
To crush ‘the enemy within’, its leftist critics, Israel’s right-wing will go all the way, anti-Semitism included: Im Tirtzu campaign targeted left-wing artists as fifth columnists

An even more concerning aspect of these new and critically near-sighted alliances between the Israeli right and ultra-nationalist powers in Europe and the U.S. touches on the Holocaust itself. European ultra-nationalists don’t only rely on the Israeli support in rewriting their countries’ role in implementing the Final Solution; they also contribute directly to the recent upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents against Jews in the Diaspora.

Can it be that in order to secure support for the settlement project, Israel is turning its back to the Jewish people and their safety? Can it be that unwittingly, Israeli leaders are promoting a new and sophisticated form of Holocaust denial? These are the important questions to be asked, and not the irresponsible diversions of the nuances of George Soros’ position on Zionism.

Hillel Ben-Sasson is a visiting assistant professor of Israel Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. In the past he worked as Director of Programs for Molad, a think tank that received partial support from the Open Society Foundations.

On Netanyahu’s Orders: Israel's Foreign Ministry Retracts Criticism of anti-Semitism in Hungary and Strongly Attacks Soros

On Saturday, Israel’s ambassador to Hungary issued harsh statement calling on Hungarian PM and his party to remove posters against the Jewish billionaire ■ Foreign Ministry spokesperson: Soros is constantly undermining Israeli government by financing organizations that defame Jewish state

Barak Ravid Jul 09, 2017 10:26 PM

At the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry on Sunday retracted a statement issued the previous day by the Israeli ambassador to Hungary, which had called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party to halt a poster campaign against Jewish-American financier George Soros on the grounds that it was fueling anti-Semitism.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon issued a clarification that refrained from criticizing Orbán but also sharply criticized Soros himself, using claims similar to the ones being made against him by the Hungarian government.

“Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred. This was the sole purpose of the statement issued by Israel’s ambassador to Hungary,” the statement said. “In no way was the statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”

The tension comes at a particularly sensitive time, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Orbán in Budapest on July 18, during what will be the first visit of an Israeli premier to Hungary in 30 years. The day after their meeting, Netanyahu and Orbán are scheduled to meet with the leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

On Saturday, Israeli Ambassador to Hungary Yossi Amrani issued an extraordinarily sharp statement in which he called on Orbán and his party, Fidesz, to remove posters hung throughout the country that criticized Soros.

The posters appearing all over Hungary over the past few days feature a picture of Soros laughing and are captioned, “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh.”

Some of the posters were glued to the floor of train cars in Budapest and other cities, so that anyone boarding the train would have to step on them. 

Orbán and Fidesz are attacking Soros – who was born in Budapest and survived Nazi-occupied Hungary – because of the latter’s supposed activity against Hungary’s harsh policies toward the entry of Muslim refugees.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest, July 4, 2017.ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP
Orbán and Fidesz have taken what many see as a nationalist, racist and Islamophobic line ahead of the 2018 election. They claim Soros funds civil society groups and liberal associations in Hungary with the purpose of “settling a million migrants” in the country.

The Jewish community in Hungary, numbering over 100,000, is extremely concerned by the messages in Orbán’s election campaign – particularly the ones against Soros. Since the launch of the campaign, the Hungarian media has reported a number of incidents in which anti-Semitic graffiti has been spray-painted on the posters.

Senior figures in the Jewish community have conveyed very worried messages to the Israeli Embassy in Budapest about the posters, which they say have anti-Semitic connotations and encourage an atmosphere of aggression against Jews, especially because many Hungarians consider Soros as first and foremost Jewish.

Following the messages conveyed by the local Jewish communities, there were consultations between Amrani and Foreign Ministry staffers in Jerusalem, after which it was decided to issue a statement critical of the poster campaign.

The wording of the statement was approved by the ministry’s deputy director general for diplomacy, Alon Ushpiz, and Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem.

“The campaign not only evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear,” the statement said. “It’s our moral responsibility to raise a voice and call on the relevant authorities to exert their power and put an end to this cycle.”

Although Netanyahu holds the foreign ministry portfolio, the senior Foreign Ministry officials that approved the wording of the statement did not coordinate its release with the Prime Minister’s Office, which learned of it from the media.

After the statement was issued, there was also pushback from right-wing politicians and media outlets, which condemned the Foreign Ministry for issuing a statement that seemed to defend Soros, whom the Israeli right sees as leading the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

As a result of this pressure, the Prime Minister’s Office ordered the Foreign Ministry to issue a clarification that included a general denunciation of anti-Semitism without specifically mentioning Hungary, while also criticizing Soros.

This is the second recent clash between Israel and Hungary over messages with anti-Semitic connotations promulgated by Orbán and his party.

At an election rally two weeks ago, Orbán praised Hungary’s leader during World War II, Miklós Horthy, who collaborated with the Nazis and under whose rule 500,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to extermination camps, where most were murdered.

Israel protested the statements to the government in Budapest. However, in order not to compromise the upcoming summit, it agreed to restraint itself and made do with a weakly worded clarification by the Hungarian foreign minister.

see also With Netanyahu in town, Hungary’s Jews lament Israel ‘deserting’ them

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