European Jewish Congress
Hungarian Jewish leader criticises Israeli support for anti-Soros campaign
Hungary
Hungarian Jewish leader criticises Israeli support for anti-Soros campaign

Hungarian Jews on Wednesday sharply criticised Viktor Orban's billboard campaign using the image of U.S. financier George Soros and said the Israeli government's backing of it came as a disappointment to the local Jewish community.

In the campaign, Soros is singled out as an enemy of Hungary. "Let's not allow Soros to have the last laugh" say billboards next to a picture of the 86-year-old Jewish investor, a campaign that Jewish groups say foments antisemitism. Many posters have been defaced with antisemitic graffiti.

Addressing Prime Minister Orban and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a ceremonial hall near the main synagogue in Budapest, Andras Heisler, chairman of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Federations (Mazsihisz), the country’s EJC affiliate, said it was unacceptable that the campaign triggered fear among Jews.

Today in Hungary, an all-out propaganda campaign could be started with visual and linguistic tools that triggered bad feelings among us Jews," Heisler said. His mother, 92, who survived the Holocaust, was in the audience.

"There can be a debate about the government's intentions, but the reason why it became unacceptable to me was that Jews in Hungary have started to fear ... "

Orban's government has said the campaign has nothing to do with antisemitism but sought to counter what it said was Soros' attempts to unduly change Hungary's immigration policies.

Soros has funded groups in Hungary that promote human rights and a positive approach to immigration.

The government has said it would end the campaign on July 15, but posters are still up around Hungary. The government says the firm that owns the billboard sites has yet to remove them.

Ahead of Netanyahu's visit to Budapest, Israel's Foreign Ministry last week issued a statement saying that Soros was a legitimate target for criticism.

Heisler said the statement was a "let-down for our community". He also called on Netanyahu to ensure greater recognition for disapora Jews in Hungary.

Netanyahu's trip came less than a month after Orban praised Hungary's interwar leader Miklos Horthy, a Hitler ally.

 Click here to read the full article in Reuters

Please read the full speech here (in Hungarian)

Thursday, July 20, 2017
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