hungary

Hungary set for fresh blitz against ‘public enemy’ Soros

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary is set to launch another state “national consultation” about Jewish-American financier and philanthropist George Soros, the government said Tuesday, six months before expected general elections.

The campaign would be to investigate public views on the “Soros plan,” and would likely be launched next month, government spokesman Bence Tuzson told public radio, without giving further details.

Last week, a top official in the ruling Fidesz party, Lajos Kosa, said that this “Soros plan” includes Europe accepting a million migrants per year and the demolition of Hungary’s anti-migrant border fences.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has regularly attacked the Hungarian-born Soros in the last year, calling him a “public enemy” for his alleged backing of uncontrolled mass immigration.

A national consultation earlier this year also focused on Soros, seen by Budapest as a liberal bogeyman who funds a raft of civil society groups in central and eastern Europe.

An image of the 87-year-old laughing adorned billboard posters alongside a message urging Hungarians “not to let Soros have the last laugh.”

The posters, some of which were daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti, were widely condemned including by Soros himself and Hungary’s main Jewish organization, which called them “poisonous.”

The drive is the latest of a series of taxpayer-funded “national consultations” by Orban’s government made up of questionnaires sent to households and accompanying mass media “public information” campaigns.

The first one, in 2015, included a questionnaire asking households about “immigration and terrorism.”

That survey was sharply criticized, notably by the UN refugee agency UNHCR which expressed “shock” at its questions and said it could boost xenophobia in the EU country.

Another campaign titled “Let’s Stop Brussels” asked citizens for advice on how to deal with European Union policies that the government said threatened Hungarians’ independence.

Hungarian media reported Tuesday that Orban told a recent closed party meeting immigration would be the main theme of the run-up to the next election, likely to be held in April.

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Hungary Builds a Wall, Cuts Illegal Immigration by Over 99 Per Cent

Hungary has slashed illegal immigration by over 99 per cent after rolling out a series of powerful border fences in response to the European migrant crisis, possibly providing a lesson as to the potential impact of constructing President Trump’s much-discussed southern wall in the U.S.

(Breitbart)

Speaking on the second anniversary of the government’s move to seal Hungary’s border with Serbia — which is also an external border for the European Union — Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Chief Security Advisor, György Bakondi, announced that the fences have caused illegal immigration to collapse from 391,000 in 2015, to 18,236 in 2016, to just 1,184 in 2017.

“The system of technical barriers is the key to the success of border security, and without it, it would be impossible to stop the mass arrival of immigrants”, the security chief explained.

Hungary had to respond rapidly to the migrant influx which burst upon Europe after Germany’s Angela Merkel announced there was “no limit” on the number of asylum seekers her own country would accept, so its frontiers are defended by twin fences peppered with watchtowers and patrolled by thousands of newly recruited border guards rather than a solid wall — which would have taken longer to construct.

Nevertheless, as it has been steadily reinforced illegal migration has slowed to a trickle — drawing the ire of open borders activists like billionaire financier George Soros and globalist officials at the European Union and the United Nations.

For example, UN Refugee Agency chief Filippo Grandi visited the border and complained: “When I was standing at the border fence today, I felt the entire system is designed to keep people, many of whom are fleeing war and persecution, out of the country”.

Grandi also called on Hungary to get rid of the border-spanning transit zones it has established, which allow all asylum seekers entering the country to be detained while the validity of their claims are assessed.

The Hungarians introduced these zones after it was discovered that many of the Paris 2015 terrorists had passed through their territory — a step-change from other EU member-states, which leave migrants more or less at large, with sometimes deadly consequences, in obedience to EU law.

“There is continuous migration pressure on our borders,” insisted Dr Zoltán Kovács, the Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Relations.

“The measures introduced in the interests of protecting the border continue to be necessary; it is thanks to these that the number of migrants entering Hungary illegally and in an uncontrolled manner has fallen drastically.”

“People who attack the fence are taking a stand in favour of allowing large numbers of people to enter the country without any form of control,” added Mr. Bakondi.

Orban: Hungary is a Refuge for White Europeans

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has announced that his nation will “remain a place where Western European Christians will always be able to find security” – and that his government is using taxes on multinational companies to fund social policies to spur families to have more children.

(New Observer Online)

Speaking at a cultural festival in Baile Tusnad, Romania, Orbán also said that the European Union, together with Open Society founder – and Hungarian Jew – George Soros was seeking a “new, mixed, Muslimized Europe.”

He went on to say that Hungary’s border fences, supported by other Central European countries, “will block the EU-Soros effort to increase Muslim migration into Europe.”

While Hungary opposed taking in migrants “who could change the country’s cultural identity,” Orban said under his leadership, Hungary would remain a place where

“Western European Christians will always be able to find security.”

He also said that Hungary’s opposition parties were no match for his government, and that he would win the next election in April 2018.

“In the upcoming campaign, first of all we have to confront external powers,” Orban said.

“We have to stand our ground against the Soros mafia network and the Brussels bureaucrats. And, during the next nine months, we will have to fight against the media they operate.”

Recent legislation in Hungary seeks to close or expel the Budapest-based Central European University, founded by Soros in 1991. There are also new rules about non-governmental organizations funded at least partly from abroad.

Orban reiterated his charge that Soros-funded NGOs want to weaken Hungary’s security with their advocacy for asylum-seekers and said Hungary had managed to stop the “migrant invasion” with razor-wire fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia.

In the speech, broadcast by Hungarian state media, Orban repeated his claim that the EU leadership was encroaching on member states’ rights and trying to apply policies, such as increased immigration, which he said were opposed by most Europeans.

Orban said Poland, which is under pressure from the EU because of attempts to put its Supreme Court under political control, had replaced Hungary as the target of the EU’s “chief inquisitor,” whom he identified as European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

“The main target of the inquisition, the example of national governance to be weakened, destroyed and broken is Poland,” Orban said, vowing to defend the Polish government.

“Hungary will use every legal possibility in the European Union to be in solidarity with the Poles.”

Finally, Orban said Hungary’s low birth rate made the country an “endangered species,” and that the government was using taxes on multinational companies to fund social policies that would spur families to have more children.

Anti-Semitism, Hungary and Netanyahu: What you need to know

(JTA) — To critics of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister’s visit to Hungary this week was a disgrace and an abandonment of local Jews in their fight against a government that is widely seen as one of Europe’s worst promoters of anti-Semitism and Holocaust revisionism.

Yet other Hungarian Jewish leaders and observers of Israel-Hungary relations viewed the visit as both vital to his country’s own interests and effective in assisting Hungarian Jews to promote theirs.

Such were the dynamics when Netanyahu held a joint news conference Tuesday with his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban, during which Netanyahu devoted exactly 35 words to what he called “the concerns” of the Jewish community in Hungary. He did not specify those concerns in the statement, which kicked off the three-day visit in Hungary — the first by an Israeli prime minister since the fall of communism.

“I discussed with Prime Minister Orbán the concerns that I heard raised from the Jewish community,” Netanyahu said. “He reassured me in unequivocal terms, just as he did now, publicly. I appreciate that. These are important words.”

It was a vague and mild reference to a growing list of grievances fueling an escalating row between a significant part of Hungarian Jewry and their government. This includes alleged anti-Semitic incitement by the government in the form of attacks on the Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist George Soros; the glorification of Nazi collaborators; crackdowns on Jewish opposition groups, and state-sponsored xenophobia against other minorities.

Zehava Gal-On, the leader of Israel’s left-wing Meretz party, wrote on Facebook ahead of Netanyahu’s visit that in view of the track record of Orban’s government, Netanyahu “has become a collaborator of anti-Semites.” Andras Heisler, president of the Mazsihisz Jewish federation of Hungary, said ahead of the visit that his community felt “left in the lurch” by Israel because of its perceived indifference to some of the issues at play.

Also prior to the visit, Heisler told JTA that he hoped Netanyahu “condemns strongly any kind of hate campaign or hate speech.”

Netanyahu’s photo op with Orban on Tuesday was not the rebuke that Mazsihisz had been seeking, the chairman of its rabbinical council, Rabbi Zoltan Radnoti, told JTA the following day.

“Bibi pushed away Hungarian Jews in favor of good relations with Orban, who can now dismiss accusations of anti-Semitism by citing Netanyahu’s support,” Radnoti said, using the Israeli prime minister’s nickname.

But to Rabbi Slomo Koves, leader of the Chabad-affiliated Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, or EMIH, the Netanyahu visit was instrumental in obtaining Orban’s first unequivocal rejection of Hungary’s fascist past, when Orban said the country had committed a “sin” in not protecting its Jewish citizens during World War II.

And the visit was crucial, Koves added, for strengthening Jerusalem’s alliance with one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in the European Union and the only member state with a large Jewish population that is not under threat from anti-Semitic violence.

Some prominent members of Mazsihisz share his view.

Peter Feldmajer, its previous president and now a representative in the umbrella group for the Central District, said government-led campaigns to rehabilitate collaborators with the Nazis or demonize liberal Jews like Soros are “ugly” and they “hurt the Jewish community of Hungary.” He also agreed that the anti-Soros campaign had anti-Semitic characteristics.

“But the community is threatened not by these issues,” Feldmajer said, “but by Islamic violence and bans on ritual slaughter, both of which Orban opposes. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with Netanyahu being received here.”

Koves called Orban’s remarks, delivered at a joint news conference with Netanyahu, the “most outspoken rejection of Hungary’s fascist past and admission of guilt” ever.

The government of Hungary, Orban said, “committed a sin when it did not protect the Jewish citizens of Hungary.” Hungarians, he added, decided “instead of protecting the Jewish community to collaborate with the Nazis.”

Radnoti welcomed Orban’s speech but said it omitted a direct reference to the active murder of tens of thousands of Jews by Hungarian troops.

“Orban spoke of collaboration. But Hungarians did more than help the Germans kill Jews: They killed them themselves, and in thousands,” the rabbi  said.

Still, coming from a leader whose party openly glorifies late politicians with an anti-Semitic legacy, the Orban speech was precedent setting, according to Efraim Zuroff, a hunter of Nazis and head of the Eastern Europe operations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

“It was very important,” Zuroff said of the prime minister’s words about the Holocaust. “I never heard this from Hungary.”

Indeed, two years ago, Orban was accused of whitewashing Hungary’s Holocaust-era record when he ignored Jewish protests about a monument built in Budapest about the Nazi occupation that featured an innocent angel being attacked by a vicious eagle. Only last month, Orban in a speech called the Nazi collaborator Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s World War II leader, an “exceptional statesman.”

Orban’s statement made it counterproductive for Netanyahu to revisit the issue, Koves argued.

“I’m no diplomat, but I think it’s common sense that such a statement is more powerful coming from Mr. Orban than from Mr. Netanyahu,” Koves said while crediting Israeli diplomacy, at least in part, for obtaining the statement.

The statement was a step further than any gesture Orban had made previously regarding Hungarian complicity in the Holocaust. He also said the Hungarian government today has a “zero tolerance” attitude to anti-Semitism.

But the “problem is,” Zuroff said, “it doesn’t represent the reality on the ground.”

He was referring to a host of government initiatives celebrating fascists and obstructing efforts to bringing Nazi-era criminals to justice, as well as the recently terminated billboard campaign against Soros, a left-leaning American billionaire who funds opposition groups and organizations assisting Muslim immigrants both in Hungary and Israel.

Mazsihisz claimed the billboards, which featured pictures of a laughing Soros and a slogan saying “don’t let him have the last laugh,” encouraged anti-Semitism. Indeed, some of the posters were defaced with anti-Semitic slogans.

 “Soros’ name has a different meaning in Hungary [than] in Israel,” Heisler, the Mazsihisz president, told JTA earlier this week. “In Hungary, Soros is the symbol of the Jewish capitalist. The campaign against Soros in Hungary incited anti-Semitic reactions.”

The Chabad-affiliated EMIH, however, disputes the assertion, viewing the campaign as criticism only of Soros’ politics and actions. Organizations belonging to both EMIH and Mazsihisz receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funding.

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Yossi Amrani, made a statement earlier this month that seconded the Mazsihisz view. But the following day, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign minister added a “clarification” to the Amrani statement saying that its “sole purpose” was to reflect that Israel rejects “any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred.”

The clarification added that 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.”

Regardless of the Israeli government’s open animosity toward Soros, Israel has good reasons to preserve its friendship with Hungary.

Netanyahu alluded to this in his statement, and later in a hot-mic incident in Budapest, where his private summit talk with Orban and three other leaders of EU member states in Central Europe was accidentally aired to journalists.

In his public address, Netanyahu thanked Orban for “standing up for Israel in international forums. You’ve done that time and again” – an apparent reference to Hungary’s public refusal to comply with European Union regulations requiring separate labeling for products from West Bank settlements and several similar cases.

Later, meeting with Orban and leaders of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, Netanyahu was heard calling the European Union “crazy” for insisting that closer trade ties with Israel will only come after the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He asked the leaders to help change that policy.

Insisting Israel downgrade its relations with Hungary over perceived anti-Semitism is “unrealistic,” according to Koves, who said doing so ignores Israel’s need for allies like Hungary. But it is also unjustified, he added, in light of the relatively positive situation of Hungarian Jewry.

According to TEV, a watchdog group on anti-Semitic incidents set up jointly by Mazsihisz and EMIH in 2013, there is no evidence suggesting the anti-Soros campaign is increasing anti-Semitic incidents. In its annual report for 2016, the group documented a total of 48 anti-Semitic hate crimes — a 16 percent decrease from the previous year.

The data, compiled according to international standards and without direct government funding, suggest that Hungary, which is home to 100,000 Jews, has the lowest per capita prevalence of anti-Semitic crimes of any EU state with a sizable Jewish population. This includes Britain (1,309 incidents in 2016), France (335) and Germany (461).

Hungary recently saw the opening of a major kosher slaughterhouse in its south amid vows by Orban to protect religious freedoms in his country. It came in stark contrast with steps to limit practices like kosher slaughter in Western Europe “that make life miserable for local Jews,” Koves said.

What these data and trends mean, Koves added, is that “Jewish communities are thriving and safer in Hungary, which is a reliable friend of Israel, than in many countries in Western Europe that do their best to isolate both their Jews and Israel. And the Israeli prime minister is supposed to boycott Hungary or destroy relations with it?”

Besides, Israel has leveraged its diplomacy in memory-related issues in Hungary, at times behind the scenes and at other times publicly, Koves said. He cited the 2012 withdrawal of an invitation to the Israeli Knesset extended to the Hungarian parliament’s speaker, Laszlo Kover, over his attendance at a commemoration of the anti-Semitic author Jozsef Nyiro.

Still, Zuroff said Israel can do more to counter Holocaust distortion and revisionism in Eastern and Central Europe while pursuing its strategic goals.

“Israel has abandoned ship, giving countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Ukraine a green light to continue with the vilest forms of Holocaust revisionism that reflect local anti-Semitism,” he said.

Israel needs to forge its foreign relations according to its own strategic road map, Zuroff said, but Jerusalem can still “leverage the fact that Israel has become a powerful economic player, a hub of innovation, to achieve” additional goals.

“There’s a way to do this without harming partnerships,” he said. “But not without political will.”

In meeting with Netanyahu, Hungary’s PM acknowledges ‘sin’ of WWll

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday acknowledged Hungary’s “sin” in not protecting the country’s Jews during World War II, seeking to quell a controversy over his recent praise for Hungary’s wartime leader and Hitler ally Miklos Horthy.

Standing next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Hungarian leader also promised a “zero tolerance policy” toward anti-Semitism.

“We are aware of the fact that we have quite a difficult chapter of history behind us. And I wanted to make it very clear to him that the Government of Hungary, in a previous period, committed a mistake, even committed a sin, when it did not protect the Jewish citizens of Hungary,” Orban said. “I want to make it clear that it is our belief that every single Hungarian government has the obligation to protect and defend all of its citizens, regardless of their birth and origins.”

Hungary’s Nazi-allied regime instituted anti-Semitic laws modeled on Germany’s Nuremberg laws beginning in 1938. After German tanks rolled into Budapest in 1944, Nazi-installed Hungarian leaders ordered the mass deportation of Jews to Auschwitz. Some 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the war, through deportation to death camps or in massacres on Hungarian soil.

Orban said Hungary failed to live up to its commitment to its citizens during World War II, “both morally or in other ways. And this is a sin, because we decided back then, instead of protecting the Jewish community, to collaborate with the Nazis. I made it very clear to the prime minister that this is something that can never, ever happen again, that the Hungarian government will in the future protect all its citizens.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (right) and PM Netanyahu at the Hungarian Parliament in Hungary, July 18, 2017 (GPO)

Hungarian officials later pointed out this was the first time Orban referred to Horthy’s actions as a “sin.”

MK Yair Lapid, who had urged Netanyahu’s to cancel his planned trip unless Orban’s apologizes, welcomed the Hungarian’s leader’s statement, but reiterated his outrage over Orban’s previous praise for Horthy.

“We must be clear: Hungary had a significant role in the Nazi extermination machine and was actively involved in the murder of Jews, in the murder of my family. That only heightens the severity of praising Miklos Horthy,” Lapid said. “The State of Israel is a strong and sovereign country and we must fight the increasing expressions of anti-Semitism in Europe which come from both the left and the right. When a prime minister in Europe says that an anti-Semite was ‘an exceptional statesman,’ we cannot be silent. That it is our moral responsibility to the millions who were murdered in the Holocaust.”

During the joint appearance with Netanyahu, Orban pointed out that a “sizable” Jewish minority lives in Hungary today. “I made it very clear to the prime minister that their security, being Hungarian citizens that they are, will be fully guaranteed by the Hungarian state, I’ve also made it very clear to the Prime Minister that the Hungarian government has a zero tolerance policy against all forms of anti-Semitism.”

Regent of Hungary Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya with Adolf Hitler, year unspecified (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

There is a renaissance of Jewish life here in Hungary, Orban added. “And this is something that we are proud of. We think that the renaissance of Jewish life is a substantial contribution to the common achievements of the Hungarian nation quite clearly.”

Orban praised Netanyahu 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.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) inspect an honor guard outside the Budapest Parliament, July 18, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

Netanyahu said he raised with Orban “concerns” about his recent praise for Horthy and an anti-immigration billboard campaign, focused on Jewish billionaire George Soros, many Jews felt was anti-Semitic.

“He reassured me in unequivocal terms, just as he did now, publicly. I appreciate that. These are important words,” Netanyahu said.

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)

The prime minister also thanked his host for standing up for Israel in international forums. “You’ve done that time and again. We appreciate this stance, not only because it’s standing with Israel, but it’s also standing with the truth.”

Budapest is at “the forefront of the states that are opposed to this anti-Jewish policy, and I welcome it,” the Netanyahu added.

Speaking in English after Orban, Netanyahu hailed Hungary as the birthplace of modern Zionism.

“When I come to Hungary, the first thing I think about, before anything else, is that Hungary was the, in many ways, the birth of modern Zionism, the movement that led to the establishment of the modern Jewish state because in Hungary was born our modern Moses, Theodor Herzl,” he said.

“It is probably inconceivable to think of the Jewish state, the State of Israel today, if it weren’t for that man born here in 1860, who envisioned the rebirth of the Jewish state and who saw in his mind’s-eye also the great challenges that would be posed anti-Semitism. He thought that this ultimately was the best solution for the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said, adding that he planned to visit the site where Herzl’s house once stood.

Before their statements, Netanyahu and Orban witnessed the signing of a bilateral culture agreement and declarations of intent regarding cooperation in innovation and technology. The culture agreement will enable reciprocal financing of cultural appearances, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Dozens of Israeli shows take place annually in Hungary via the existing culture agreement and dozens more will be added, thanks to the new one, thus allowing additional artists and directors – inter alia – to go to Hungary and expose Hungarian audiences to Israeli culture,” the PMO said.

The innovation and technology agreement is intended to increase cooperation between the Israel Innovation Authority and its Hungarian counterparts to promote Israeli-Hungarian startups. “The goal of the agreement is to promote cooperation between the governments including in the private sector with emphasis on high-tech, autonomous vehicles and new technologies,” according to the PMO.

Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu and his wife Sara were welcomed by Orban and his wife Aniko Levai at the steps of the Parliament in Hungary, where they reviewed a military honor guard. The Netanyahus toured the parliament, which houses the Holy Crown of Hungary, which has been used by kings since the twelfth century.

On Monday afternoon, Netanyahu was met Hungarian President Janos Ader in the presidential palace. He concluded the day with a dinner with Orban at the prime minister’s residence.

On Tuesday, he will meet the leaders of the Visegrad Group, a political alliance of four Central European countries: Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. He will also hold individual working meetings with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Later in the day, Netanyahu and Orban will attend an economic forum attended by dozens of Israeli companies and more than 100 Hungarian companies from the cyber, high-tech, agriculture, pharmaceutical and technology sectors.

On Wednesday, the two prime ministers will visit the Dohany Street Synagogue and meet with Jewish community leaders. Relations between the local Jewish community and Israel have been tense over recent controversies surrounding Netanyahu’s apparent refusal to confront Orban over moves perceived as promoting anti-Semitism in the country.

With Netanyahu in town, Hungary’s Jews lament Israel ‘deserting’ them (LOL….)

BUDAPEST — As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his way to Budapest for a three-day visit Monday, senior leaders of Hungary’s Jewish community expressed their disappointment over his handling of two recent controversies in which they felt he “deserted” them.

The president and a senior rabbi of the country’s largest Jewish organization urged Netanyahu to rectify the impression that he was putting political concerns ahead of Israel’s ties with Diaspora Jewry.

“The mood here is very bad and bitter,” Andras Heisler, who heads the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, also know as Mazsihisz, told The Times of Israel in his central Budapest office.

“We are waiting for Bibi to emphasize in his speech the importance of the relations between Israel and the Diaspora,” he said, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

Andras Heisler, who heads the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, in his Budapest office, July 17, 2017 (Raphael Ahren/TOI)

Netanyahu on Monday afternoon arrived in Hungary for the first visit of an Israeli prime minister in the country since the end of Communism. On Tuesday and Wednesday, he is scheduled to meet several times with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been embroiled in two recent controversies surrounding the country’s 100,000-strong Jewish community.

First, Orban hailed, as an “exceptional statesman,” the country’s wartime leader and Nazi ally Miklos Horthy, who enacted anti-Jewish laws and under whose watch over half a million Jews were deported to Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Then, he launched and defended a poster campaign targeting Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire George Soros, accusing him of seeking to flood the country with refugees.

Orban was heavily criticized by Jewish leaders from across the globe, and some Knesset members called on Netanyahu to cancel his trip, in light of his host’s praise for a Hitler ally and over his anti-Soros campaign, which critics said toyed with anti-Semitic stereotypes.

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)

In both cases, Israel’s ambassador to Budapest, Yossi Amrani, initially sided with Hungary’s Jews in criticizing Orban. But at Netanyahu’s behest, Israel later retracted its criticism or accepted the government’s clarifications.

The State of Israel defends the entire Jewish people. And the PM is the Holy of Holies. But suddenly this prime minister, for political reasons, was deserting us’

That left many local Jews feeling betrayed by Netanyahu, according to Rabbi Zoltán Radnóti, who heads Mazsihisz’s rabbinical council.

“For us Diaspora Jews, especially in Europe, the State of Israel is a symbol. It stands for Judaism, freedom, defense, everything. The State of Israel protects the people of Israel. It defends the entire Jewish people. And the prime minister is the Holy of Holies. But suddenly we saw that this prime minister, for political reasons, was deserting us,” he told The Times of Israel, in his office, adjacent to Budapest’s central Dohány Street Synagogue.

“All of a sudden, our holiness, Bibi himself, goes over to the other side,” Radnóti continued. “He embraces [Orban] and hugs him. What happened here? That hurt us, deep in our hearts and souls… He’s not with us. He’s with Orban.”

Despite their criticism of Orban, and the fact that many started worrying about rising levels of anti-Jewish attacks in the aftermath of the anti-Soros campaign, most Hungarian Jews do not believe their prime minister is an anti-Semite.

Rather, Radnoti said, the government realized too late that the billboard campaigns, showing a grinning Soros next to the sentence “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” was a mistake, but refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

“They can’t say they erred. Because if they make mistakes, that would be interpreted to mean they can’t keep the country safe,” he said.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives to address a press conference after attending a European Parliament plenum session on the situation in Hungary, on April 26, 2017 in Brussels. (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand)

On Wednesday, Orban and Netanyahu are scheduled to meet Jewish leaders at the Dohány Street Synagogue for a public event and a meeting behind closed doors. “This will be difficult for us,” Radnóti said.

Heisler, who has been the president of Mazsihisz since 2013, met Netanyahu’s senior foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter two weeks ago, in Jerusalem, and asked him to address the painful issues. “I told him Netanyahu should fix this.”

Soros ‘distressed’ by ‘anti-Semitic’ Hungary campaign

BUDAPEST, Hungary — US billionaire George Soros hit back Tuesday at a Hungarian government anti-immigration poster and media campaign that he said uses “anti-Semitic” imagery.

“I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign,” the 86-year-old said in a rare statement.

The posters show a large picture of the Hungarian-born Jewish emigre laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Since the posters appeared on billboards and at public spaces around the country last week, as well as on television, several incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti such as “Stinking Jew” or Stars of David daubed on them have been reported.

A poster with US billionaire George Soros is pictured on July 6, 2017 in Szekesfehervar, Hungary. (AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

Hungary’s largest Jewish organisation, Mazsihisz, has called on Prime Minister Viktor Orban to stop the campaign, with its head Andras Heisler writing to the prime minister that the “poisonous messages harm the whole of Hungary.”

Some opposition activists and citizens have also begun taking down some of the posters from billboards.

Soros said he was “heartened that together with countless fellow citizens the leadership of the Hungarian Jewish community” have spoken out.

Earlier Tuesday his spokesperson Michael Vachon called the campaign “reminiscent of Europe’s darkest hours” with “clearly anti-Semitic overtones.”

Those defacing the posters with graffiti “(understood) the government’s intent,” he said.

“The government has consistently and willfully misrepresented Soros’s views on migration and refugees,” he added.

On Friday Orban accused Soros of being a “billionaire speculator” who wanted to use his wealth and civil groups that he supports to “settle a million migrants” in the European Union.

Orban and government officials say that Hungary has a policy of “zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism, and that the poster campaign is about increasing awareness of the “national security risk” posed by Soros.

On Saturday, Israel’s ambassador in Budapest Yossi Amrani also criticized the poster campaign, saying it “evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for an European Union leaders summit, on June 22, 2017, at the European Council in Brussels. (JULIEN WARNAND / POOL / AFP)

But late Sunday — reportedly at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office — Israel’s foreign ministry issued a separate “clarification” that criticism of Soros was legitimate.

“Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon in a statement. “This was the sole purpose of the statement issued by Israel’s ambassador to Hungary.

“In no way was the statement meant to de-legitimize 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,” Nahshon added.

Netanyahu is due to visit Hungary next week, the first visit by an Israeli prime minister since the end of communism in 1989.

With Netanyahu set to arrive, swastika-daubed Soros posters still in Budapest

Billboards displaying messaging against Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist George Soros remain up in Budapest, some with anti-Semitic imagery on them, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to arrive in the Hungarian capital Monday afternoon for a highly anticipated visit.

Netanyahu is making the first trip to Hungary by an Israeli prime minister since the end of Communism in 1989, but the trip had been complicated by the posters, which have been criticized as encouraging anti-Semitism.

Hungarian officials said the posters would be down by the weekend, marking the end of a campaign against Soros for his pro-immigration stance.

Hungarian media had reported that the posters were being removed in order to not embarrass Netanyahu.

But a Times of Israel correspondent said at least six billboards remained up. Two billboards had black swastikas spray-painted on them.

Hungarian and Israeli officials were not immediately available for comment.

Hungarian Jews, and Israeli politicians from the opposition, had taken issue with Netanyahu’s too-gentle admonishment of the billboard campaign, while maintaining that criticism of the liberal philanthropist was legitimate, and his apparent dismissal of the Hungarian prime minister’s praise for the country’s fascist wartime leader and Hitler ally Miklos Horthy.

The Soros posters show a large picture of the Jewish businessman laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Many of the posters around Hungary had been daubed with anti-Semitic messages, including “stinking Jew,” drawing protests from Hungary’s over-100,000-strong Jewish community, one of Europe’s largest.

Its members have often accused Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, of turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism or even encouraging it with nationalist rhetoric that analysts say is aimed at staving off a rise in power for the far-right, a charge the premier denies.

Hungarian Pime Minister Viktor Orban gives a joint press conference in Budapest on July 4, 2017 during a summit of the Visegrad group countries and Egypt. (AFP Photo/Attila Kisbenedek)

In going ahead with the visit, critics have accused Netanyahu of putting Israel’s political and economic goals ahead of the concerns of the Hungarian-Jewish community.

Netanyahu and Orban have developed close ties over their shared anti-immigration stances and disdain for the left-leaning liberal global order bankrolled, as they see it, by the likes of Soros, an octogenarian US billionaire.

Soros, who hid from the Nazis in Budapest as a boy, said that the posters, plastered nationwide, used “anti-Semitic imagery.”

His spokesman said they were “reminiscent of Europe’s darkest hours.” The head of Mazsihisz, Hungary’s biggest Jewish organization, called the campaign “poisonous.”

A poster with US billionaire George Soros is pictured on July 6, 2017, in Szekesfehervar, Hungary. (AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

Orban insisted they were not about Soros’s Jewishness but the “national security risk” posed by his wish to “settle a million migrants” in the European Union.

Orban’s government is also making life difficult for the prestigious Central European University in Budapest, created by Soros, and for civil organizations he funds — prompting EU legal action.

Netanyahu, whose relations with the EU are strained too, is also scornful of Soros because of his support for both Israeli and Palestinian rights groups critical of Israel’s government and the occupation.

Some in Israel called for Netanyahu to cancel his Hungary trip because of the posters, with Israel’s ambassador saying it “evokes sad memories (and) sows hatred and fear.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a joint press conference with France's President at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on July 16, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEPHANE MAHE)

But hours later, a Foreign Ministry statement backtracked — reportedly at Netanyahu’s behest.

While Israel “deplores” anti-Semitism, Soros “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,” it said.

“Connecting Soros to the migration issue is the (Hungarian) government’s aim, but it is a problem for Orban if the campaign is seen as anti-Semitic,” political analyst Csaba Toth told AFP. “So the Netanyahu visit helps him as it bolsters his claims that the Soros campaign is not.”

But whether consciously anti-Semitic or not, the posters clearly evoked dormant anti-Semitism, said Rabbi Zoltán Radnóti, a senior Mazsihisz leader.

Soros, a declared non-Zionist and harsh critique of successive Israeli governments, is seen in Hungary “primarily as a Jew,” Radnóti explained. “And this has been stressed recently many times, implicitly and explicitly, playing with imagery resembling the interwar stereotypical caricature of the wicked Jew pulling the strings and laughing. In the context of this campaign, one cannot differentiate between slamming Soros and playing with blatant anti-Semitism.”

Ira Forman, a former US special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism (SEAS), concurred: “You don’t have to unequivocally call something out as anti-Semitic to point out it is wrong and dangerous,” he told The Times of Israel. “Given Hungary’s history and the levels of anti-Semitic sentiment inside the country, the [Victor] Orban government is once again playing with fire.”

Recently Orban also praised Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s wartime leader and Hitler ally until 1944, as an “exceptional statesman” for rebuilding Hungary after World War I.

Regent of Hungary Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya with Adolf Hitler, year unspecified (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Orban’s praise for Horthy, made in a June 21 speech, has been widely denounced by Jewish groups. The Anti-Defamation League called Horthy a “notorious anti-Semite.”

Critics have long suspected Orban of trying to rehabilitate Horthy, who oversaw the sending of over a half million Jews to the Nazi death camps, by tacitly encouraging new memorials of Horthy and other interwar figures.

In 2014, Mazsihisz boycotted state commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the 1944 deportations over concerns the government was “whitewashing” the state’s complicity.

But Orban is at pains to stress his “zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism, his supporters pointing to a new law outlawing Holocaust denial and state funding for Jewish-themed films like Oscar-winner “Son of Saul.”

“No government has done more to fight anti-Semitism in Hungary,” his spokesman said in a blog post on Thursday.

In visiting Hungary, critics say, Netanyahu puts realpolitik ahead of ties with local Jews

Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to become the first Israeli prime minister to visit Hungary since the fall of the Iron Curtain 26 years ago. But next week’s three-day trip, hailed by both sides as an opportunity to further advance growing bilateral ties, is marred by bitter division over a controversy that emerged just this week, focusing on the Israeli government’s response to a Hungarian government campaign deemed “anti-Semitic.”

Hungarian Jews, and Israeli politicians from the opposition, have taken issue with Netanyahu’s too-gentle admonishment of a billboard campaign targeting Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire George Soros, while maintaining that criticism of the liberal philanthropist was legitimate, and his apparent dismissal of the Hungarian prime minister’s praise for the country’s fascist wartime leader and Hitler ally Miklos Horthy.

The Soros posters show a large picture of the Jewish businessman laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Leaders of Hungary’s 100,000-strong Jewish community have said the campaign is provoking anti-Semitism. In going ahead with the visit, critics have accused Netanyahu of putting Israel’s political and economic goals ahead of the concerns of the Hungarian-Jewish community.

Bilateral trade between Hungary and Israel exceeds $500 million, and Budapest recently opened a $50 million euro credit line at Hungary’s Eximbank to facilitate cooperation between Hungarian and Israeli businesses. Budapest has also expressed interest in purchasing Israeli natural gas.

“Hungary and Israel are very important political, academic and economic allies”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said last month during a visit in Jerusalem, as Netanyahu’s office indicated that Budapest and Jerusalem were looking to advance bilateral economic cooperation mainly in automotive technologies, energy, water and academics.

Ahead of Netanyahu’s arrival next week to discuss such matters and others, Hungarian authorities said the Soros posters will be removed, indicating that the campaign had achieved its goals and was no longer necessary.

But the damage appears to be done.

Soros released a statement in response to the campaign saying he was “distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign.”

András Heisler, who heads the Federation of the Hungarian Jewish Communities, known as Mazsihisz, wrote in an open letter last week that “the billboard campaign, while not openly anti-Semitic, can still very much unleash uncontrolled anti-Semitic and other feelings. This poisonous message hurts all of Hungary.”

Playing with fire

Whether consciously anti-Semitic or not, the posters clearly evoked dormant anti-Semitism, said Rabbi Zoltán Radnóti, a senior Mazsihisz leader. Several of the posters have been defaced with Stars of David or slogans such as ‘Dirty Jew’,” the Budapest-born rabbi told The Times of Israel this week. “This billboard campaign is unacceptable and dangerous,” he said.

Soros, a declared non-Zionist and harsh critique of successive Israeli governments, is seen in Hungary “primarily as a Jew,” Radnóti explained. “And this has been stressed recently many times, implicitly and explicitly, playing with imagery resembling the interwar stereotypical caricature of the wicked Jew pulling the strings and laughing. In the context of this campaign, one cannot differentiate between slamming Soros and playing with blatant anti-Semitism.”

Ira Forman, a former US special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism (SEAS), concurred: “You don’t have to unequivocally call something out as anti-Semitic to point out it is wrong and dangerous,” he told The Times of Israel. “Given Hungary’s history and the levels of anti-Semitic sentiment inside the country, the [Victor] Orban government is once again playing with fire.”

A poster with US billionaire George Soros is pictured on July 6, 2017, in Szekesfehervar, Hungary. (AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

Even former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan attacked Budapest over the anti-Soros billboards. “Beyond stopping the campaign, it is essential to have an open debate on xenophobia, anti-Semitism and above all on the indispensable role of independent civil society organizations in a democratic state,” he said in a statement.

Jerusalem’s change of tone

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Yossi Amrani, initially agreed, too, saying last week that the billboard campaign not only evokes “sad memories but also sows hatred and fear.”

But the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Sunday issued a “clarification,” reportedly at Netanyahu’s behest, which states that while Israel deplores anti-Semitism and supports Jewish communities in confronting this hatred, criticism of Soros was legitimate.

“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 Foreign Ministry stated.

For Hungary’s Jews, this clarification, or “retraction,” as some called it, came “as an utter shock,” Radnóti said. “We would expect the prime minister of Israel to stand up against all forms of explicit and implicit anti-Semitism — or even attacks that might trigger waves of anti-Semitism.”

For Cas Mudde, a Dutch political scientist researching European political extremism and populism, it is obvious that Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, put the interests of his government ahead of those of the Hungarian Jewish community. “It is also another example of how Netanyahu provides cover for radical-right politicians who at the very least use anti-Semitic dog-whistles,” he said.

Under Netanyahu, Israel’s realpolitik trumps the concerns of local Jewish communities, lamented Adi Kantor, a research associate at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies.

“That’s a clear case of a double [standard],” she told the Times of Israel on Thursday. On the one hand, the prime minister recently disinvited German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel because he met with a leftist Israeli human rights group. But then he gladly visits Hungary’s right-wing prime minister, Victor Orban, who backs problematic billboard campaigns and praised Miklos Horthy, the Hitler ally, as an ‘exceptional statesman,’” she argued.

“Israel’s reaction should have been a lot more severe. Where are the government’s moral red lines? Are we willing to speak to someone who praises a man on whose watch half a million Jews were sent to their deaths?” Kantor asked.

Praise for an anti-Semite

Orban’s praise for Horthy, made in a June 21 speech, has been widely denounced by Jewish groups. The Anti-Defamation League called Horthy a “notorious anti-Semite.”

The AJC noted that he was “responsible for the systematic discrimination and persecution of Hungarian Jews leading up to the Holocaust.” Horthy remained the head of state during the Nazi occupation, during which 440,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, according to the ADL.

Amrani, Jerusalem’s ambassador in Budapest, initially expressed his displeasure at Orban’s praise for Horthy and sought clarifications. But Israel’s Foreign Ministry later accepted the explanation provided by Foreign Minister Szijjártó. History must be respected, argued the Hungarian foreign minister, “and the historical facts indicate that the activities of Miklós Horthy as governor included both positive and extremely negative periods.”

Regent of Hungary Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya with Adolf Hitler, year unspecified (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Szijjártó’s statement adds insult to injury, fumed MK Yair Lapid, the son of a Hungarian Holocaust survivor. “The prime minister of Israel, son of a historian and a man with a keen sense of history, cannot ignore this attempt to whitewash Hungary’s past,” he stormed earlier this month in an op-ed in The Times of Israel. “If he has any national pride, the Prime Minister should demand a retraction from Viktor Orban. If this is not forthcoming, he must cancel his visit to Hungary in protest.”

Netanyahu is expected to see his Hungary trip through. After a short trip to Paris on Saturday night, the prime minister will on Monday head to Budapest for meetings with Orban and the leaders of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Normalizing ties with Europe’s radical right?

Once upon a time, Orban’s praise for Horthy would have caused outcry across party lines in Israel, assessed Mudde, the Dutch researcher, who was in Israel this week.

“The time has ended several years ago, when Likud and Netanyahu made the wrong assessment that Europe is anti-Israel and Israel should work with whoever is pro-Israel,” Mudde, an associate professor at the University of Georgia, said. “This has led to a formal and informal normalization of relations to the radical right in Europe and a bigger and bigger tolerance for anti-Semitic dog-whistles and historical revisionism by ‘pro-Israel’ forces.”

This policy will immediately backfire, he predicted, “as it will weaken Israel’s critique of anti-Semitism or historical revisionism of ‘anti-Israel’ forces.”

George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations arriving for a meeting in Brussels, April 27, 2017. (AFP/POOL/OLIVIER HOSLET)

And yet, the criticism is not universal. Rabbi Slomó Köves from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, for instance, defended the anti-Soros billboard campaign as “definitely not very elegant” but not necessarily anti-Semitic. In today’s Hungary, the billionaire is not seen as a “symbol of the Jew, but of the international financial speculator,” said Köves, who is scheduled to meet Netanyahu next week in Budapest.

In this context, Jerusalem was right in its reserved response to the controversy. “Israel has to be very careful [about] when to get involved in a local political dispute,” Köves told The Times of Israel.

The Budapest-born rabbi considers Orban’s comments about Horthy inaccurate. This episode was especially hurtful for him since his family was “almost totally extinguished” by the fascist leader’s actions, he noted.

“But this issue actually connects to a general question that is faced in almost every country,” he added. “How should we relate to symbolic historical figures that have a mixed record of unquestionable accomplishments and sinful actions,” such as Germany’s Hindenburg France’s Clemenceau.

What about anti-Semitism in Hungary?

Earlier this month, Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau “expressed his pleasure at the fact that Jewish life in Hungary is flourishing,” and thanked Orbán for his assistance in this respect, according to a press release issued by the prime minister’s office.

During their meeting in Budapest, Orbán assured Lau that “Hungary’s Jewish community is under the unconditional protection of the Government.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban meets with a delegation of Jewish leaders on July 6, 2017. (European Jewish Association)

Köves, who attended the meeting, agrees. Last year, only 48 anti-Semitic incidents took place in his country, none of them violent, he said. In the UK, in the same period, 1,500 such incidents had taken place, he said.

The Orban government is “highly supportive of the cultural and religious life of the Jewish community,” he added. “There is not even a discussion about banning kosher shechita [slaughter] or brit mila [circumcision] in Hungary unlike in other European countries. I strongly believe that in today’s Europe we have to deeply appreciate these facts.”

An ADL poll from 2015, however, found that 40 percent of Hungarians harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. Six out of 10 respondents agreed with the statement, “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”

Hungary to pull ‘anti-Semitic’ Soros campaign ahead of Netanyahu visit

The Hungarian government said Wednesday it will end a billboard campaign against Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros deemed “anti-Semitic,” three days before before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the country.

The posters show a large picture of the Hungarian-born Jewish emigre laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Leaders of Hungary’s 100,000-strong Jewish community have said the campaign is provoking anti-Semitism.

Since the posters appeared on billboards and at public spaces around the country last week, as well as on television, several incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti such as “Stinking Jew” and Stars of David daubed on them have been reported.

On Tuesday, Soros released a rare statement saying he was “distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign.”

In a statement the government said that the anti-Soros campaign had reached its goals and was no longer necessary, according to Hungarian news outlets. The statement noted that a new law regulating the display of political posters in public places was due to come into effect on July 15.

Hungarian television network ATV cited Wednesday a leading member of the Orban’s ruling Fidesz party as saying Netanyahu’s upcoming visit prompted the move as well as preparations for an international water polo tournament scheduled to start on Thursday.

Netanyahu will meet with Hungarian Prime Minister is Viktor Orban in the capital Budapest in what will be the first visit by an Israeli prime minister since the end of communism in 1989.

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary slammed the campaign over the weekend for “sowing hatred” and suggested it evokes memories of the Holocaust.

However, on Sunday the Foreign Ministry clarified that while it condemns bigotry against Jews, it was not defending Soros, who it described as defaming Israel and undermining its right to defend itself.

Hungarian Pime Minister Viktor Orban gives a joint press conference in Budapest on July 4, 2017 during a summit of the Visegrad group countries and Egypt. (AFP Photo/Attila Kisbenedek)

“Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in the statement. “This was the sole purpose of the statement issued by Israel’s ambassador to Hungary.

“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,” Nahshon added.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the walk-back came at the behest of Netanyahu.

Orban and government officials say that Hungary has a policy of “zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism, and that the poster campaign is about increasing awareness of the “national security risk” posed by Soros.

On Friday Orban accused Soros of being a “billionaire speculator” who wanted to use his wealth and civil groups that he supports to “settle a million migrants” in the European Union.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.