Hungary's Viktor Orban, who described pro-Nazi Horthy as an ‘exceptional statesman’ , is invited to Israel whereas Jewish activist Ariel Gold is banned
|No prize for guessing which 'enemy' speculates with money but our Zios prefer to turn a blind eye to this blatant anti-semitism|
The relationship between Viktor Orban, Hungary’s far-Right Prime Minister and Netanyahu is almost akin to a love affair. They smile sweetly into each others’ eyes and seem to have an affection for each other that is uncommon amongst world leaders.
Of course they have a lot in common. Netanyahu built a fence between Israel and Egypt to keep out asylum seekers from Africa (‘infiltrators’). Orban built a wall to keep out refugees from Syria.
Netanyahu and Orban also have a common enemy – George Soros, the Jewish billionaire. Soros is unusual for a billionaire in that he funds human rights groups, in Israel and Hungary.
|The anti-semitic poster campaign that Orban waged against George Soros and which Netanyahu approved|
Orban dedicated a nasty and vicious poster campaign to attacking Soros last year, replete with all the anti-Semitic dog whistles that only he was capable of. Hungary’s Jewish community was up in arms. Reuters reported that
Israel’s ambassador to Hungary issued a statement denouncing the campaign, saying it “evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear”, an apparent reference to Hungary’s part in the deportation of 500,000 Jews during the Holocaust.
Netanyahu, no doubt sozzled from all the free champagne that his benefactors have bestowed on him (& which is now the subject of a corruption charges) hit the roof. He wasn’t going to have his closest ally in Europe attacked because of a little local anti-Semitism.
|Horthy, the 'exceptional statesman' and friend|
Hours after the Ambassador made his comments, a spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, issued a “clarification” saying that Soros was a legitimate target for criticism.
“In no way was the statement (by the ambassador) meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments,” said foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, adding that Soros funded organizations “that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself”. Israel backs Hungary, says financier Soros is a threat
The ‘defamation’ of the Jewish state constituted having funded Israeli human rights groups such as B’tselem. Israel doesn’t do human rights. You might ask yourself what democracy vilifies human rights groups as terrorist supporters and passes legislation to try to prevent them getting funding. On Netanyahu’s Orders: Israel's Foreign Ministry Retracts Criticism of anti-Semitism in Hungary and Slams George Soros
|How Orban's racist party Fidesz sees his relationship with Netanyahu|
It was, of course, extremely embarrassing to Netanyahu who was just about to pay a state visit to Hungary to have his host criticised for anti-Semitism.
Ha’aretz reportedthat Jewish community leaders had complained of their ‘great fears following Orban’s praise of Mikos Horthy’ Hungary’s war-time leader ‘who cooperated with the Nazis, as well as Orban’s campaign against Hungarian-born Jewish business magnate George Soros.’
|Netanyahu falls over himself to congratulate Hungary's anti-semitic ruler|
It wasn’t an easy visit to pull off as ‘Orban’s speech in praise of Horthy last month created additional tensions with Israel.’ Because Israel uses the Holocaust as a form of legitimation it is sometimes difficult to square this with cuddling up to regimes that look to their Nazi past as a source of national pride.
‘Orban told Netanyahu that Hungary was pleased to greet such a dedicated patriot, saying that patriotic governments were the most successful and that successful government will be those who do not ignore national identity and interests.’
Clearly Orban and Netanyahu had a great deal in common and they were not going to allow Orban’s nostalgia for Nazi times past to disturb the karma.
|Netanyahu and Yad Vashem|
Hungary’s Viktor Orban is not the only anti-Semitic regime that Netanyahu has taken a shine to. Poland’s Law and Justice Party [L&J] government is another close ally. Again there had been a few local difficulties, but nothing that was insoluble.
|How the Jewish Chronicle's editor Stephen Pollard saw Milibands criticism of the anti-semitic Kaminski|
Back in 2009 the Tory Party was criticised, by David Miliband for its links with Michal Kaminski, Chair of the European Parliament’s Conservative and Reform Group and a leading member of the L&J party, which the Tories had just joined . In the same year Kaminski spoke alongside Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Ron Prossor, at the Conservative Friends of Israel fringe meeting.
Kaminski was ardently pro-Zionist. In the same year he was a guest speaker at the at Herzliya. Kaminski also paid homage to the Holocaust dead at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Propaganda Museum in Jerusalem in April 1976. Yad Vashem has, over the years, been host to a number of anti-Semites and Nazis including John Vorster, Prime Minister of Apartheid South Africa who was interned during the war for his Nazi sympathies.
Children liberated by the Soviet forces from Auschwitz whose rescue was abandoned by the Zionist movement
Kaminski was a far- Right Polish MEP who opposed a national apology for the massacre of up to 1600 Jews by Poles at Jedwabne in July 1941. The Jews had been herded into a barn which was then set alight. The massacre was the subject of books by Polish-Jewish historians Jan Tomasz Gross and Anna Bikont [Neighbours and The Crime and the Silence]. It led to a national apology in 2001, which Kaminski opposed. Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle leapt to Kaminski’s defence.
On October 1st, in a bizarre op-Ed piece ‘Pollard refuted the suggestion that Kaminski had said he would apologise to the Jews‘only if someone "from the Jewish side" apologises for what "the Jews" did during the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland from 1939 to 1941. Mr Kaminski flatly denies this, and no one has yet produced a shred of serious evidence to contradict him.”
Nine days later Pollard provided the evidence whilst still defending Kaminski, on the grounds that ‘there were acts of collaboration by Jewish people with the Soviet army when the Soviet army came to Poland … If you are asking the Polish nation to apologise for the crime made in Jedwabne, you would have to require the whole Jewish nation to apologise for what some Jewish communists did in Eastern Poland." Poland's Kaminski is not an antisemite: he's a friend to Jews 1.10.09. He went on to argue that Kaminski was ‘one of the greatest friends to the Jews in a town (Brussells) where antisemitism and a visceral loathing of Israel are rife.’ In other words his support for Israel negated his anti-Semitism.
If what Kaminski said wasn’t anti-Semitic it is difficult to know what is. 90% of Poland’s Jews were exterminated yet Kaminski believed that the surviving remnant should apologise for having survived. This is the same Pollard who only last week was berating the ‘institutionally anti-Semitic’ Labour Party for refusing to adopt wholesale the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Pollard complained that ‘instead of adopting the definition as agreed by all these bodies, Labour has excised the parts which relate to Israel and how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic.’
Err yes that's precisely the point. To separate out anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel from anti-semitism. After all the Zionists have always protested when we said the fake anti-semitism campaign was about Israel. Now they have proved it.
But Kaminski was not the only anti-Semite in the L&J party. Anna Zalewska, Poland's Education Minister discounted two well-documented massacres of Jews, including Jedwabne, by calling it a matter of opinion. When far-right nationalists marched in Warsaw, brandishing slogans and signs that said “Clean Blood,” “White Europe” and “Europe Will Be White.” Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said the march was fuelled by “patriotic behavior of Poles” and displays of xenophobia were “incidents” that were “of course, reprehensible.”
If this were not enough then Antoni Macierewicz, Poland’s Defence Minister told listeners to Radio Maryja, an anti-Semitic Catholic radio station that he had read Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Czarist forgery that purports to be a Jewish plan to control the global economy but which was an acknowledged forgery. It was the basis of the Nazis’ world Jewish conspiracy theories and were described by Norman Cohn as a ‘Warrant for Genocide’
Acknowledging that there was debate about the pamphlet’s authenticity, Macierewicz told a listener: “Experience shows that there are such groups in Jewish circles.” It is worth bearing in mind that Hitler, in Mein Kampf [p.174] wrote that ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion ‘are based on a forgery’, the Frankfurter Zeitung moans and screams once every week: the best proof that they are authentic.’ In other words both Macierewicz and Hitler accepted they were true, but for the former it was irrelevant whether they were authentic or not. Polish defence minister condemned over Jewish conspiracy theory
At the end of January the Polish Sejm passed a Holocaust law whose purpose was to criminalise and silence anyone who suggested that Poles were involved in any way with the Holocaust or atrocities committed under the Nazis. Poland's Holocaust Law Is a Dangerous Threat to Free Speech.
|Dina Porat, Yad Vashem's chief historian signs off on Netanyahu's exoneration of Poland's holocaust revisionism law|
On June 27th Netanyahu announced that an agreement had been reached with Poland to decriminalise criticism Polish complicity during the Nazi occupation of Poland. This agreement has been heavily criticised in Israel for effectively rewriting the history of the Holocaust. The agreement equates Polish rescuers of Jews, of whom there were undoubtedly many, with those who actively collaborated. Although the agreement was criticised by Yad Vashem it is clear that their chief historian, Dina Porat, was involved in the drawing up of the agreement.
Although the threat of imprisonment and fines has now been removed those who mention Polish complicity in Nazi atrocities are still liable to be sued in the courts.
Neo-Nazi David Duke was pleased to circulate the cartoon above which attacked George Soros
Undoubtedly the actions of Poland severely embarrassed Israel’s ruling coalition but instead of cutting off relations with Poland Netanyahu sought to engineer a compromise. The legislation will remain on the statute and explosure of Polish collaboration in anti-semitic crimes will still be a civil offence. Why does a so-called Jewish state do this? Because the most important thing is that Poland’s far-Right anti-Semitic government is friendly to Israel.
There are those who argue that the Zionist movement only collaborated with the Nazi state because they were relatively powerless. How then to explain the treatment of anti-Semitic governments today? Netanyahu flew half-way round the world to denounce Obama’s agreement with Iran. When it comes to an anti-Jewish government there is the gentlest of diplomacy.
Of course this has produced shock waves amongst liberal Zionists who believe that Zionism genuinely opposes anti-Semitism. For example Professor Michael Barnett writing in America’s Forward describes how ‘It’s a shocking thing for the Prime Minister of the Jewish State to be accused of aiding Holocaust revisionism yet this episode is only the latest in a string of events in which the Israeli government has given comfort to anti-Semitism.’
Barnett described how Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the US had praised Hungary for being a great friend of Israel , saying the country had a “zero tolerance policy” regarding anti-Semitism despite Orban, and many of its leading politicians having trafficked in anti-Semitism. The following could be a text book example of hidden and not so covert anti-Semitic messages.
“We are fighting an enemy that is different from us,” Orban said in an election speech in March. “Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world.”
Barnett asks ‘Why is the Israeli government willing to be an accessory to Holocaust revisionism and give cover and praise to anti-Semites?’ and chooses the easy way out. It is ‘realpolitik’. ‘Israel’s security is in constant danger, and the state’s fundamental interest must be its own security.’ Of course this is a myth. There is no danger to Israel whatsoever and if there was Poland is unlikely to be of much help.
The uncomfortable answer that Barnett and other liberal Zionists shy away from is that Israel is a far-Right state itself whose attitude to African refugees, Palestinian refugees and anyone other than its own Jewish citizens is a model example for European nationalists, fascists and the far Right. In the words of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, founder of the US’s alt-Right
“... an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me, who has analogous feelings about whites. You could say that I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. Just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.”
This is the uncomfortable truth that liberal Zionists choose to ignore. Israel’s use of the Holocaust as a propaganda weapon is a double edged sword. The treatment of refugees in Israel today is similar to the West's treatment of Jewish refugees 80 years ago. The treatment of Jews in Germany before the 1941 deportations is all too similar to the treatment of the Arab minority.
Hence why the Zionist movement constantly wishes to treat the Holocaust as unique, above and beyond society and without any causes at all (apart from eternal anti-Semitism). It wants the Holocaust to be beyond history, without any cause other than the fact of being Jewish. Such a pitiable travesty of historical understanding is necessary if Israel is to get away with its day to day racism, transfer, siege and murder.
All that Barnett can say of Israel’s behaviour is that ‘If the price of advancing Israel’s security is becoming an accessory to Holocaust revisionism, then so be it.’
Of course Barnett notes that ‘Israel is quite quick to denounce Holocaust denial when it comes from Tehran, but Tehran is an implacable foe. Poland can whitewash its own participation in the Holocaust, on the other hand, and it gets a pass because it is an ally.’ without asking what is the purpose of a Jewish state whose allies are to be found among anti-Semitic regimes.
When it comes to Netanyahu’s silence over the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville last year when one woman was killed and the Nazis chanted “Jews will not replace us.” then he attributes it to ‘the logic of a sharp self-interest’.
Of course this is nonsense. Zionism has always refused to oppose genuine anti-Semitism whilst, at the same time, smearing its anti-Zionist opponents with the brush of ‘anti-Semitism’. From Herzl’s diary entry at the time of the Dreyfus Affair
In Paris..., I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' anti-Semitism.
to the trade agreement Ha’avara in 1933 with the Nazis, Zionism has always sought to utilize anti-Semitism whilst, in Herzl’s words understanding it and pardoning it. Zionism has always seen anti-Semitism as the justified reaction of non-Jews to Jewish aliens within their midst. Jews are held to be a separate nation, not part of the non-Jewish nations. In the words of Zionist writer and founder of the Encylopedia Judaica, Jacob Klatzkin,
If we do not admit the rightfulness of anti-Semitism we deny the rightfulness of our own nationalism... Instead of establishing societies for defence against the anti-Semites who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for defence against our friends, who desire to defend our rights. [B. Matovu, “The Zionist Wish and the Nazi Deed’ Issue, Winter 1966-7 cited in Uri Davies, ‘Utopia Incorporated’ p. 17.]
It also helps explain why Prime Minister Netanyahu stayed quiet in response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed and neo-Nazis chanted “Jews will not replace us.” Netanyahu spoke only after President Trump had done so. While White Supremacists were chanting anti-Semitic slogans, the Israeli government took a policy of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
However despite Barnett’s complete failure to understand why Israel and Zionism behave as they do, the conclusions he draws are essentially correct:
The events of 2017 and 2018 suggest that what is good for Israel might not be necessarily good for diasporic Jews. If this is a reasonable possibility, then the implication is that the Diaspora Jewish community must respond appropriately. It must learn to protect itself.
Below are some important articles, including one from the Hungarian Spectrum on the background to Orban’s eulogy to Admiral Horthy and another by Chemi Shalev in Ha'aretz.
The Forward July 5 Michael Barnett
Six months ago Poland passed a controversial law intended to criminalize and silence discussions of Poland’s role in the Holocaust. Anyone who suggested that Poland as a nation had blood on its hands for the genocide of the Jews could be charged, arrested, and imprisoned for libel.
Outraged, Holocaust survivors, scholars, public intellectuals, and governments around the world admonished the Polish government and demanded the law be revoked. In order to try and work out a diplomatic solution to the controversy, the Israeli government entered into discussions with Polish officials.
On June 27, Israeli and Polish officials announced an agreement to amend the law, decriminalizing it. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu himself took credit for a joint declaration, boasting that he had protected the “historic truth of the Holocaust.”
But many others read the revised law, and the accompanying joint statement by Israel and Poland, as essentially giving Israel’s seal of approval to a bill that attempted to cover up the historical truth and exonerate Poland’s role in the Holocaust.
No less august an institution than Yad Vashem harshly denounced the Netanyahu government. “A thorough review by Yad Vashem historians shows that the historical assertions, presented as unchallenged facts, in the joint statement contain grave errors and deceptions,” read the press release. Furthermore, the statement gives the appearance that the Polish government-in-exile and Polish citizens were trying to rescue Jews when they were more often willing accomplices in the destruction of the Polish Jews. The joint statement harms the principle of “unimpeded research,” and potentially distorts “the historical memory of the Holocaust.”
Noted Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer agreed, accusing the Israeli government of participating in the denial of historical truth and betraying the memory of the Holocaust.
It’s a shocking thing for the Prime Minister of the Jewish State to be accused of aiding Holocaust revisionism. And yet, this episode is only the latest in a string of events in which the Israeli government has given comfort to anti-Semitism.
On June 4, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer praised Hungary for being a great friend of Israel, saying the country had a “zero tolerance policy” regarding anti-Semitism. And yet, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, and many of its leading politicians have trafficked in anti-Semitism, blaming Hungary’s ills on the Jewish philanthropist George Soros and making speeches that are laden with anti-Semitic tropes.
“We are fighting an enemy that is different from us,” Orban said in an election speech in March rife with anti-Semitic dog-whistles. “Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world.”
In response, the Anti-Defamation League and other American Jewish organizations issued one denunciation after another.
And yet, Ron Dermer praised Hungary. It raises a stymying question: Why is the Israeli government willing to be an accessory to Holocaust revisionism and give cover and praise to anti-Semites?
Realpolitik provides the most straightforward explanation for Israel’s unfortunate associations. From a realpolitik point of view, Israel’s security is in constant danger, and the state’s fundamental interest must be its own security. As famously observed by Lord Palmerston, “there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests.”
From this point of view, states will associate themselves with their purported values only so long as the values do not undermine their fundamental security interests. There is no room for sentimentality, ethics, and morality when it comes to the survival and security of the state. The weak who believe the promises of the strong will be disappointed, and put their own security at risk.
This realist wisdom maps reasonably well onto Israeli foreign policy. Israel lives in a rough neighborhood and knows that it can rely on no one else for its survival and security.
In addition to the defense of Israeli and Jewish security, the Israeli state also identifies with various values, such as human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. But Israel, just like all other states, will have a relationship of convenience with its values; interests will and must always trump them. Despite its rhetorical commitment to these values, Israel has worked in the past with an authoritarian Argentina and an apartheid South Africa, and currently with a genocidal Myanmar.
And Israel knows better than to put its faith in the commitments made by others to its survival. The U.S. has been a long-time friend, defender, and benefactor, but Israel’s security and defense policy operates with the premise that it must be prepared to fight on its own. In this way, it’s like all other countries.
And yet, in one critical respect, Israel is quite different: Israel claims to defend the security and survival of both the state and the Jewish people. Its definition of the “national” interest is thus more expansive than that of other states because the Jewish nation lives not only in Israel but also in the diaspora.
This raises a huge question: What will the Israeli government do when there’s a trade-off between protecting Jewish Israelis and Diaspora Jews?
Realists tell us that Israel will probably choose the survival and security of the state over all other demands, including the needs of diasporic Jews.
And the Israeli government seems to be operating true to realist predictions.
Israel’s recent foreign policy decisions make more sense in the realpolitical context. Israel is doing what is best for Israel, not necessarily what is best for the Jews. If the price of advancing Israel’s security is becoming an accessory to Holocaust revisionism, then so be it.
Israel is quite quick to denounce Holocaust denial when it comes from Tehran, but Tehran is an implacable foe. Poland can whitewash its own participation in the Holocaust, on the other hand, and it gets a pass because it is an ally.
The logic of a sharp self-interest also helps explain why Prime Minister Netanyahu stayed quiet in response to the anti-Semitic white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed and neo-Naizs chanted “Jews will not replace us.” Netanyahu spoke only after President Trump had done so. While White Supremacists were chanting anti-Semitic slogans, the Israeli government took a policy of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
What does Israel get in return for its seal of approval for anti-Semitism? Hungary and Poland are members of the European Union, and might be able to help Israel fend off EU legislation that is critical of Israel and its policies in the occupied territories.
Because of Israel’s policies in the territories it is finding it more difficult to maintain its long-standing alliances with liberal-oriented Western European governments; consequently, it must search elsewhere.
When given the choice between defending Jewish security and survival in the United States, or maintaining access to an oval office that has aligned itself with anti-Semites, the Israeli government chose the latter.
The events of 2017 and 2018 suggest that what is good for Israel might not be necessarily good for diasporic Jews. If this is a reasonable possibility, then the implication is that the Diaspora Jewish community must respond appropriately. It must learn to protect itself.
It wont be the first time. Beginning in the 19th century and continuing through the Holocaust, Jews in London, Paris, and Berlin established various Jewish protection societies that lobbied their governments to place diplomatic pressure on those eastern European states and Russia that were persecuting their Jews. American Jews often joined their West European brethren, but they often deferred to these more established Jewish communities as they focused on the challenge of settling hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants.
The Holocaust, though, promoted the American Jewish community to the role of primary protector of the Jewish diaspora. How Jews organized to protect the diaspora changed again with the establishment of the State of Israel, as Israel and American Jews began to partner in the defense of Jewish people.
Israel had sovereignty, a military, and a seat at the major international organizations where it could defend Jewish interests, as well as an identity as chief representative of the Jewish nation.
American Jews were the largest Jewish community in the world, increasingly confident and politically connected, and had close ties to a U.S. government that was the world’s leading superpower.
Together, Israel and American Jewry worked jointly to defend Jewish communities around the world, free Soviet Jews, and rescue Ethiopian Jews.
Israel’s recent foreign policy behavior, though, suggests that American Jewry must be prepared to take a more robust role in the protection of Jewish life outside of Israel. To do so, it should move in the following three directions.
First, it must sharpen and assert its moral leadership. An Israel that is prepared to give cover to ant-Semitism and Holocaust denial is an Israel that has ceded considerable moral authority in the Jewish world. The declaration between Israel and Poland was just that — a declaration between two sovereign states. But it should not be interpreted as anything more than that. Israel has no moral authority to decide what kind of inquiry into the Holocaust is acceptable or not. American Jewry and other diasporic Jewish communities can make this clear by raising a dissenting voice.
Second, it should actively debate whether Israel is willing and able to defend the basic physical security or diasporic Jews. Israel has had a standard answer to diasporic Jews under threat: make Aliyah. That is one possibility, for sure, but it should not be the only one.
Diasporic Jewry must consider all possible options. And among those options must be a willingness to call out an Israeli government that seems prepared to give credibility to governments that traffic in anti-Semitism.
Third, American Jews must become a stronger voice for refugees and displaced peoples, and lobby for a just immigration policy. In many respects they already are. Because of American Jewish history — the closing of the immigration doors after World War One and refusal to accept European Jewish refugees during the Holocaust and afterwards — they have been important advocates for vulnerable populations attempting to reach American shores.
At the moment, American Jews are using their own historical experience to identify with the suffering of others. But at some point in the near future it might be Jewish lives at stake.
Consider the nightmare scenario of French Jews forced to flee because of rising anti-Semitism. It is quite possible that many of them will prefer to seek refuge in the United States, just like European and Soviet Jews of the past.
They should have that choice. But they will only have the choice if the United States creates a compassionate immigration policy. Better to push for justice now rather than ask for special favors for French Jews later.
It is painful to watch Israel, the homeland of the Jews, give comfort to anti-Semitism and to those who want to distort the history of the Holocaust. Defenders of Israel’s policies point to realpolitik and accepting the world as it is.
Regardless of whether or not this is an acceptable defense, the implication is the same: Diaspora Jews might not be able to count on Israel to defend their interests and values.
Michael Barnett is University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at George Washington University. His most recent book is “The Star and the Stripes: A History of the Foreign Policies of American Jews” (Princeton University Press, 2016).
After landslide poll victory for Hungarian leader, PM thanks him for supporting Israel in international forums
9 April 2018, 6:44 pm
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Hungary’s newly reelected leader Viktor Orban on Monday to congratulate him on his victory in Sunday’s general elections.
Netanyahu invited his Hungarian counterpart to visit Israel, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. A Channel 10 news report said Netanyahu was the first foreign leader to congratulate Orban.
The premier also thanked Orban for “Hungary’s support for Israel in international forums,” the statement continued.
In December, Hungary was one of 35 countries that abstained on a United Nations General assembly vote condemning US President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the United States’ embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Netanyahu met Orban during a four-day official visit to Hungary last July, and similarly praised Orban for his support for Israel.
“You’ve done that time and again,” Netanyahu said at the time. “We appreciate this stance, not only because it’s standing with Israel, but it’s also standing with the truth.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) hold a Rubik’s Cube at the Hungary-Israel Business Forum in Budapest, Hungary, on July 19, 2017. (Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90)
Budapest is at “the forefront of the states that are opposed to this anti-Jewish policy, and I welcome it,” the prime minister added.
Orban praised Netanyahu at the time as a “dedicated patriot,” adding that this is the key to his country’s success.
“There’s a lot for us to learn from Israel, ladies and gentlemen, because Israel teaches the world and us also that if you don’t fight for something, you will lose it,” he said. “Because nowadays, you have to fight for everything in the modern world.”
Orban was elected Sunday to his third consecutive term on a controversial anti-migrant platform, with his Fidesz party winning a super-majority.
Fidesz and its small ally, the Christian Democrat party, won a two-thirds majority, which is enough to make changes to the constitution.
Orban late Sunday celebrated what he called a “decisive victory.”
The far-right Jobbik party placed second with 26 seats, while a Socialist-led, left-wing coalition came in third with 20 seats.
Germany’s conservative interior minister welcomed Orban’s “very clear election victory” and warned the European Union against showing arrogance.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban greets his supporters in Budapest, Hungary, April 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Horst Seehofer said he would congratulate Orban on behalf of his Christian Social Union party. As Bavaria’s governor until last month, Seehofer sparred with Chancellor Angela Merkel over her migration policy and invited Orban to gatherings of his party.
German news agency dpa reported that Seehofer warned the EU against a “policy of arrogance and paternalism” and said bilateral ties with EU countries are always important even when there are differences.
However, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn slammed Orban’s anti-migrant stance and called on other European nations to reject it.
He was quoted Monday as telling German daily Die Welt: “Today it is Hungary and Poland, tomorrow others in eastern and central Europe, even a big founding country of the EU, could develop a taste for undermining values and scaremongering.”
He added that after the Hungarian election “it is up to Germany and France, along with all member states that aren’t counting on indifference, to weigh in unambiguously on the basis of the European treaties to neutralize this tumor of values.”
Hungarian Spectrum, 21st June 2017
Another day, another speech. Yes, Viktor Orbán delivered another speech which, with the exception of one short passage, was nothing more than his usual collection of clichés about “those people whose aim is the transformation of Europe’s cultural subsoil, which will lead to the atrophy of its root system.”
The occasion was the opening of the newly renovated, sumptuous house of Kuno Klebelsberg, minister of education between 1922 and 1931, in Pesthidegkút, today part of District XII of Budapest. Along with István Bethlen, prime minister between 1921 and 1931, Klebelsberg was his favorite politician of the interwar period. Neither of them was a champion of democracy, but they stood far above the average Hungarian politicians of the period. I devoted a post to Klebelsberg in 2011 when the government decided that the new centralized public school system would be overseen by a monstrous organization called Klebelsberg Intézményfenntartó Központ (KLIK).
As I said, there was only one passage in the whole speech that will not easily be forgotten. After describing the 1920s and 1930s as “a grave touchstone” of Hungarian history, Orbán said that the nation was able to survive thanks to “some exceptional statesmen like Governor Miklós Horthy, Prime Minister István Bethlen, and Kuno Klebelsberg.” Thanks to them, “history didn’t bury us under the weight of the lost war, the 133 days of red terror, and the Diktat of Trianon. Without the governor there is no prime minister, and without the prime minister there is no minister. Even Hungary’s dismal role in World War II cannot call into question this fact.” Jaws dropped even at the conservative Válasz, which called Horthy’s description as an exceptional statesman “a historical hornet’s nest” which will be followed by a long, far-reaching, and most likely acrimonious debate.
Maybe we could quibble over whether István Bethlen was a statesman, but that Miklós Horthy was not is certain, and not just because of his dismal political career. When we think of a statesman we think of a highly respected, influential politician who exhibits great ability, wisdom, and integrity. None of these fits Miklós Horthy. He was a narrow-minded man without any political experience. Why did Orbán feel it necessary to join Horthy to Bethlen and Klebelsberg as great statesmen of the interwar period, especially by employing such twisted logic? One cannot think of anything else but that he has some political reason for his “re-evaluation” of Horthy.
This interpretation is new because it wasn’t a terribly long time ago when, in the wake of the Bálint Hóman statue controversy in Székesfehérvár in December 2015, Orbán said in parliament that he couldn’t support the erection of the Hóman statue because the constitution doesn’t allow anyone to be honored who held political office after March 19, 1944, because any political activity after that date meant collaboration with the oppressors, i.e. the Germans. For that reason, he wouldn’t support a statue for Governor Miklós Horthy either. So, this is quite a leap, which may have even international consequences. Although Horthy was not officially declared to be a war criminal, historical memory has not been kind to him. I am certain that the news that Viktor Orbán embraced Miklós Horthy as one of the great Hungarian statesmen of the twentieth century will be all over the international media.
The Hungarian reaction in anti-Fidesz circles was that Orbán’s change of heart as far as Horthy is concerned has something to do with his desire to weaken Jobbik, a party which has been most fervent in its rehabilitation efforts on behalf of Miklós Horthy. Orbán has been waging a war against Jobbik for some time, and Jobbik’s very effective billboards infuriated him. He wants to destroy Vona and his party. He is vying for Jobbik votes by courting far-right Jobbik supporters who might be dissatisfied with Vona’s new, more moderate policies. Perhaps Horthy will do the trick.
As far as Horthy’s political abilities are concerned, his best years were the first ten years of his governorship when he had the good sense to let Bethlen run the affairs of state. Every time he was active in politics he made grievous mistakes or worse, be it in the years 1919 and 1920 or in the second half of the 1930s and early 1940s.
You may have noticed that Orbán talked about the red terror but didn’t mention the white terror that was conducted by Horthy’s so-called officer detachments (különítmények). They roamed the countryside and exercised summary justice against people they suspected of support for or participation in the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Horthy knew about their activities and most likely even encouraged them. The number of victims of white terror was about three times the number of those who were killed by the so-called Lenin Boys.
Horthy’s election to the position of governor was mostly due to the fact that the only military force that existed in the country in late 1919 and early 1920 was his detachments. Politicians were worried about the possibility of a military coup. Horthy expressed his impatience with the politicians several times as they tried to hammer out a coalition government the allies would accept. And his officers made it clear that it is Horthy or else. His political views at that time were identical to those of his far-right officers who later claimed that they were the first national socialists in Europe.
Horthy’s real inability as a politician came to light when the world was edging toward a new world war. Perhaps his greatest sin was Hungary’s declaration of war against the Soviet Union. He volunteered Hungary’s military assistance when Germany didn’t even press for it. He also bears an immense responsibility for the Hungarian Holocaust when, after the German occupation on March 19, 1944, the government he appointed sent half a million Hungarian Jewish citizens to their death while he himself did nothing. And we know that he could have prevented it, as he was able to stop the transports later, mind you only after 450,000 Jewish citizens had already been sent to die in Auschwitz and other extermination camps.
Orbán’s decision to declare Horthy a national hero shows the true nature of his regime.
Menachem Begin Would Be Ashamed of Netanyahu’s Whitewash of Hungary’s anti-Semitism, Poland’s Holocaust Revisionism
Viktor Orban’s upcoming official visit to Israel is a blot on the prime minister’s record and a stain on Israel’s history
Chemi Shalev Jul 03, 2018 10:29 AM
Israel’s preeminent Holocaust historian, Yehuda Bauer, has castigated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his recent joint statement with Poland, which, Bauer said, belittles the Polish role in the destruction of Polish Jewry. “This is a small achievement and a big mistake, which borders on betrayal,” Bauer said of Netanyahu’s blessing for the Polish amendment that would decriminalize claims that Poles aided and abetted the Nazis, but maintain their status as a civil offense.
It’s tempting to excuse the incident as a triumph of realpolitik over historical truth. Israel, after all, has myriad political and security interests with Poland that are arguably more important than the age-old question of the complicity of Poles in the Holocaust. Yedioth Ahronot columnist Nahum Barnea, for example, this week compared Netanyahu’s move to Ben Gurion’s willingness in the early 1950’s to recognize an “other Germany” in exchange for massive German aid. “There were those who cursed him for this; others blessed him. In hindsight, it seems like he was right.”
The comparison, of course, is problematic, and not just in scale. Israel in the early 1950’s was desperate. It suffered from extreme austerity, was strapped for cash and faced the impossible hurdle of absorbing masses of new immigrants that doubled the country’s population within the first four years of its existence. Germany’s decision to grant Israel close to $8 billion dollars in current value literally saved the Israeli economy from going bankrupt. Israel’s reliance on Poland in 2018 is negligible in comparison to say the least.
Contrary to Polish leaders, moreover, who cater to nationalist sentiments by legislating revisionist history, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer defied them in 1952 by accepting responsibility for the Holocaust as crimes committed “on behalf of the German people.” Ironically, Netanyahu’s ideological predecessor Menachem Begin was the fiercest opponent of the so-called reparations deal with Germany, leading a popular revolt that bordered at times on mutiny.
Moreover, Netanyahu’s willingness to forgive, forget and look the other way when Holocaust revisionism and plain anti-Semitism rear their heads isn’t limited to Poland. His chummy relationship with Hungarian authoritarian Viktor Orban is another case in point. Netanyahu visited Budapest last July and extolled Orban’s leadership, despite the Hungarian prime minister’s effusive praise for Hungary’s World War II dictator Miklos Horthy, who was “complicit” in the extermination of Hungary’s Jews, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Netanyahu was also one of a handful of Western leaders who called Orban to congratulate him after his victory in this year’s April elections, despite the fact that the win was based on a virulent public campaign against George Soros, which Hungarian Jews and international observers described as anti-Semitic in tone and content.
This week it was announced that Orban would visit Israel on July 18-20, thus completing Netanyahu’s efforts to stamp the Hungarian leader with an Israeli kosher certificate. The Hungarian leader will be given a royal welcome, but in light of Netanyahu’s own incessant attacks on Soros, for all we know the two leaders might issue a joint statement condemning the Hungarian-born Jewish financier. This is less Ben Gurion style realpolitik and more an Israeli prime minister’s active collaboration in anti-Jewish propaganda.
The Netanyahu-Orban axis, after all, isn’t a product of tactical political expediency, but a strategic meeting of the minds. Both strive for ethnocentric illiberalism. Both share a disdain for liberal values, especially those admired and cultivated by the vast majority of American Jews. Both agitate against immigrants. Both are sworn enemies of the free press. Both feel an affinity with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and both have tied their country’s fates to Donald Trump. Needless to say, Netanyahu has pointedly refrained from criticizing Trump for any of his questionable statements on racists and Jews, including his post-Charlottesville equation of neo-Nazis with anti-racist demonstrators.
Netanyahu’s courtship of authoritarian regimes can be explained, but not justified. Of course he revels in Trump’s revocation of the Iran nuclear deal and his anti-Palestinian policies, including the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. And naturally Netanyahu is eager to exploit the willingness of countries such as Hungary and Poland to buck the European Union, a pet peeve of the prime minister and the U.S. President, and to undermine Europe’s criticism of Israeli policies in the occupied territories.
But such considerations cannot excuse Netanyahu’s willingness to turn a blind eye to Holocaust revisionism and anti-Semitism. They cannot serve as a pretext for turning his back on the painful legacy of Polish and Hungarian Jews or for alienating the vibrant American Jewish community. His decision to gloss over the odious Polish law against claims of Polish complicity in the Holocaust and to camouflage Hungary’s propaganda against “internationalists” like Soros are a blot on his own record and a stain on Israeli history. Netanyahu’s whitewashing of anti-Jewish regimes may not be tantamount to “selling the memory of slaughtered Jews for blood money”, as Begin said of Ben Gurion, but one thing is certain: the legendary Herut founder would be ashamed.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban long proclaimed zero tolerance of anti-Semitism but has more recently risked angering Israel and Jewish people with remarks apparently courting radical right-wing voters ahead of 2018 elections.
Orban’s language, embracing notions of “ethnic homogeneity,” appears fashioned to occupy territory on the far right abandoned by the radical nationalist opposition party Jobbik, which has moderated its message, analysts and critics said.
Orban has locked horns with European Union partners over respect for liberal democratic conventions and reluctance to take in refugees.
In a speech last week Orban recalled the rule of interwar Governor Miklos Horthy, a divisive figure who led the country for 24 years until 1944, signing several landmark laws against Jews and eventually surrendering more than 500,000 to the Nazi Holocaust.
“That history did not bury us [after World War I] is down to a few exceptional statesmen [like] Gov. Miklos Horthy,” he said. “That fact cannot be negated by Hungary’s mournful role in World War II.”
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary and the World Jewish Congress said in a joint statement that they were “concerned” about the tone of such electioneering.
Israel’s ambassador to Budapest requested a clarification of Orban’s words, which Jerusalem found “troubling.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to pay a visit to Budapest in mid-July, the first by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
Some analysts said Orban’s new hardened tone signaled a change in his politics and could define his upcoming election campaign as he seeks reelection for a third consecutive term.
Orban’s Fidesz is a runaway favorite to win the 2018 elections, commanding about a third of the electorate with Jobbik and the Socialists at about 10 percent each.
Jobbik received about a million votes in 2014, but risks big chunks of that electorate with its new, more moderate line.
“Jobbik’s move towards the center has upended the power base in the center and created a vacuum on the far right,” Zoltan Novak, analyst at the Centre for Fair Political Analysis said.
HARDER LINE FINDS FOLLOWERS
One indicator of that move is Orban’s harder line on immigration. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have entered Hungary via its southern frontier since 2015, though most have moved on westward to more prosperous parts of the EU. Budapest has erected a border fence along its southern frontier.
“It is very important to preserve our ethnic homogeneity,” Orban told a business forum February 28, repeating the phrase several times.
Political Capital analyst Peter Kreko sees Fidesz and Jobbik actually trading places, with Orban now on the far right.
“For Orban to speak about ‘ethnic homogeneity’ in eastern Europe, less than 75 years after the Holocaust or 25 years after the Balkan wars, is a complete disregard of civilized norms,” Kreko told Reuters.
This week he used a national tour rallying against European Union plans for migrant resettlement quotas to criticize Muslim migrants.
“They don’t respect our culture,” he said. “They seek space for their own (culture), then suppress ours, then replace it. This is a matter of identity.”
Orban’s “ethnic homogeneity” idea has struck a nerve with a new militant right-wing political alliance, which will launch at a rally next week and may also enter the 2018 election race.
“Within decades the continent can implode demographically,” alliance leader Balazs Laszlo told the pro-Orban daily Magyar Idok. “Our ethnic homogeneity can come wholly undone… We recognize differences and defend our own race.”
A leader of the movement, Mihaly Orosz denied any cooperation with Fidesz.
“If they sense they can use our movement politically they might try but there is no intentional collusion on our part,” he said, adding their goal was to pass the 5 percent vote threshold to get into Parliament in 2018.
Kreko, the analyst, says the parallels clearly indicate a strategic squeeze: harvesting voters left behind by Jobbik from both the center of the political spectrum and the extreme right.
Fidesz also denied any cooperation.
“Fidesz rejects all kinds of anti-Semitism, and does not cooperate with these politicians,” the party said in an emailed statement.
On Thursday, the British tabloid “The Telegraph” ran a cover story featuring a picture of George Soros with the headline “Man who ‘broke the Bank of England’ backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.”
The outrage against the headline’s anti-Semitic portrayal of a globalist anti-patriotic Jewish banker’s secretive plot was swift and effective.
But The Telegraph’s gaffe was hardly sui generis.
Just last Sunday, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros is funding protests against Israel’s planned deportation of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers. Soros promptly denied that he was involved, and Netanyahu gave no evidence for his accusation.
|Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer praised Yair Netanyahu's cartoon attacking George Soros - one can only guess at the conversations in the Netanyahu household|
|leading US neo-Nazi David Duke, a former Grand Master of the KKK, praised Yair Netanyahu's cartoon attacking Soros|
But Soros has long been a fixation for the Israeli right. In July, the Israeli foreign ministry endorsed a Hungarian ad campaign singling out Soros, despite widespread criticism (including by the Israeli ambassador to Hungary) of the campaign’s anti-Semitism. And in September, Netanyahu’s own son Yair posted a conspiratorial, anti-Semitic image to Facebook featuring Soros dangling the world before a reptilian predator.
The spectacle of the Israeli government endorsing anti-Semitic tropes is a painful and bizarre new feature of our world. But there’s an angle from which the Right’s hatred of Soros actually makes sense.
Soros embodies a Diasporic Jewish archetype that right-wing Zionism has defined itself against: the cosmopolitan financier, the wandering Jew comfortable everywhere and at home nowhere; the liberal committed to abstract principles rather than to his particular nation. He is a reminder that another model of Jewish identity and even Jewish power exists divorced from nationalism, and as such, he is a big threat to the Zionist right.
Born in Budapest, Hungary, he was educated in England and then moved to the United States (he is hated by the nationalist right in all three countries). He has made billions gambling in currency, which was once a matter of national sovereignty but, thanks to Soros and others, has become a international market.
As in the Telegraph piece, Soros has been dubbed “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” — that is, a capitalist to whom the nation-state yields. His business led him to the conclusion that national governments are insufficient to regulate global capitalism. “Leav[ing] it to each individual state to protect its own interests will surely lead to the breakdown of the gigantic circulatory system which goes under the name of global capitalism,” Soros warned in his book.
The anti-Semitic slurs and comparisons to Rothschild basically write themselves.
In his philanthropy too, he supports financially the values of international liberal capitalism: tolerance, internationalism, and democracy. That means funding anti-Communist protests in Eastern Europe, the liberal opposition to right-wing Hungarian nationalism, and the political campaign against Bush in 2004.
He has pledged to fight against nationalism, which he calls the “dominant ideology in the world now” and supports greater European integration, hence the anti-Brexit cash.
Perhaps most offensive of all to Jewish nationalists, Soros has said of Israel: “I don’t want anything to do with it.”
A proud and confirmed globalist, Soros learned from the Holocaust not that Jews needs a nation-state, but that the world needs less nationalism.
As Mairav Zonszein wrote back in July, “Soros’s humanitarianism and universalism represent an expression of post-Holocaust Jewish identity that is anathema to the hard-line nationalism of Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition.” He is the Old Jew par excellence, the deracinated banker and universal alien—an embodiment of the problem Zionism set out to solve.
To be sure, Soros and Israel or Zionism are in no way fundamentally opposed. That would be absurd, since Soros currently bankrolls massive portions of the progressive, Jewish infrastructure in Israel. I am saying that Soros is anathema for right-wing Zionism, that is, a nationalism with no respect for universal rights or values — and with no respect for Diaspora Jewry
Zionism has always been ambivalent towards Diaspora Jews, as it has always been torn on the relationship between the Jewish nation and the universal world. Eliezer Schweid has shown how Zionists have long been torn between a “negation of the exile” (shlilat hagolah) that sees Diaspora as embarrassing, weak, and morally compromised, and the needs for Israelis to identify and connect with Jewish history, which has long been Diasporic.
More broadly, there have always been universalist and particularistic strains in Zionist thought, from Revisionists like Jabotinsky who place the national collective above all, to universalists like J. L. Magnes who don’t even want a politically “Jewish” state, and imagine Israel as a secular democracy shared by Jews and Palestinians.
But over the past decade, this tension has been somewhat resolved, and not for the best. A brutal, angry, and ethno-centric form of nationalism has taken over the Israeli government and society. Netanyahu, for instance, supports a “Jewish state law” on the argument that Israel has been insufficiently Jewish over the last seventy years. West Bank settlers have entered the mainstream of Israeli politics; for the first time, a settler serves on the Israeli supreme court, and another owns a major Israeli newspaper.
The right openly rejects any vision for a Palestinian state, and it is increasingly disdainful of the democratic world. The Likud wants to regulate and limit foreign NGOs (just like far-right nationalists in Hungary and elsewhere).
Within Israeli culture, open expressions of racism are growing more common. A player for the Beitar football team said openly, “I am a racist,” and studies find that Israeli teens are increasingly comfortable with outright racism. The hatred of African refugees — or as they are called in Israel today, “infiltrators” — flows directly from this angry, exclusivist nationalism. Minister of Culture Miri Regev, who is fighting a war against Israeli culture she deems insufficiently nationalist, also said, “The Sudanese are a cancer in our body.”
What’s important to recognize here is that the right’s attacks on Soros and its plan to deport Africans flow from the same source: a newly ascendant, intense and unchecked sense that Jewish Israel ought to care exclusively about itself.
American Jews have been shocked and appalled by the Israeli government’s plan to deport 60,000 poor, stateless Africans. Thank God. To deport people traumatized by war and a brutal trek through Sudan and Egypt, subjected to violence, neglect, and living in South Tel Aviv in abject poverty—that’s a scandal.
But less obviously, the plight of the African asylum seekers is not just about how we treat the Other; it is also about how Israel views us Diaspora Jews.
The Likudniks who reject beleaguered foreigners as “infiltrators” also reject American Jews as shiftless, Diasporic self-haters. It is no accident that a government indifferent to Africans is also indifferent to American Jewish concerns about religious pluralism at the Western Wall, that a state which could expel refugees could deny entry to left-wing Jews critical of the Occupation.
The Israeli right is rapidly passing beyond nationalism into an isolationism which surveys the globe and sees only enemies.
American Jews must fight this trend, because it isn’t just a rejection of the Other; it is a rejection of us.
Raphael Magarik is a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley.