World Jewish News
This photo taken Wednesday, July 5, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary, shows an anti-Soros campaign reading ''99 percent reject illegal migration'' and “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh” (AP Photo/Pablo Gorondi).
Hungary: 'Government campaign against Soros on immigration has nothing to do with anti-Semitism'
11.07.2017, Jews and Society
“This is not about George Soros’ origins and identity, but about his actions,” a Hungarian senior government minister said as the head of the Jewish Federation of Jewish communities criticized the country’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban's billboard campaign against migration and foreign influence which used the image of the US Jewish financier and political opponent of the Hungarian government.
They urged the nationalist Orban to halt the campaign. "Please make sure this bad dream ends as soon as possible," Andras Heisler, chairman of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Federations (Mazsihisz), said in an emailed statement.
The government campaign casts Hungarian-born Soros as an advocate of mass illegal immigration which Budapest opposes. It features an enormous black and white picture of Soros and urges Hungarians not to let him “have the last laugh”.
Andras Heisler, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, wrote an open letter to the government, saying: “While not openly anti-Semitic, this campaign can still unleash uncontrolled, anti-Semitic passions and other feelings.” Mr Heisler wrote in an open letter to the government.
Israel’s ambassador in Budapest, Yossi Amrani, also called on Hungary to halt the poster campaign.
“I call on those involved in the current billboard campaign and those responsible for it to reconsider the consequences,’’ he said.But on Sunday, at the demand of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Israeli foreign ministry retracted the ambassador statement. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to pay a visit to Hungary later this month.
A senior official in the foreign ministry explained that “Israel condemns every expression of anti-Semitism in every country and alongside Jewish communities everywhere in dealing with this hatred. This was the sole purpose of the statement by the Israeli ambassador to Hungary.”
The official clarified that Soros himself deserves harsh criticism. Soros has come under fire for his support for anti-Israel leftist groups.
"Under no circumstances was there a statement aimed at de-legitimizing criticism of George Soros, who continues to undermine the democratically elected governments of Israel by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deprive it of the right to defend itself," the official said.
Following the Israeli envoy's comments, Hungary's foreign ministry said it was protecting its citizens.
"Just like Israel, Hungary too takes steps against anyone who represents a risk to the national security of the country and its citizens," it said in a statement.
Orban's spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said the campaign had nothing to do with anti-Semitism but rather sought only to counter what he called Soros's attempts to unduly change immigration policies in Hungary.
On the contrary, he said, Prime Minister Orban has declared a zero-tolerance policy towards anti-Semitism in his country where around 120,000 Jews live.
During a meeting with the Hungarian premier in Budapest last week, Israel’s Chief Rabbi Israel Lau and a delegation of the Rabbinical Center of Europe expressed appreciation for the Hungarian government’s efforts to eradicate anti-Semitism and for its commitment to maintain freedom of religion for the Jewish community as a new kosher slaughterhouse was inaugurated in the Hungarian capital.
Orban declared last week at a meeting of his Fidesz party: "Let us be vigilant: our opponents use the antisemitism card. We reject that." H
"Those who charge us with anti-Semitism bring tens of thousands of anti-Semites into Europe through migration. So our migrant policies serve the interests of European Jewish communities even if they don't stand up for their own interests, and quietly tolerate the unfair attacks that Hungarians receive as they protect them too."
Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest will be the first visit there of an Israeli Prime Minister since the country emerged from Communist rule in 1989.