Politics

Israelis fume over Netanyahu’s retraction of Hungary’s anti-Soros campaign criticism

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed his Hungarian counterpart as a “true pal of Israel” at the start of a controversial two-day go to that has sparked good sized outcry over Viktor Orbán‘s praise of Nazi collaborators.

Politicians and party leaders had advised Mr Netanyahu to cancel the outing after the Hungarian chief ultimate 12 months drew criticism for praising Miklós Horthy, Hungary’s Second World War generation ruler, who delivered antisemitic legal guidelines and collaborated with the Nazis.

Far-right populist Mr Orbán, re-elected in April, also put Jewish-Hungarian philanthropist George Soros on an anti-immigration billboard campaign and appeared to evoke antisemitic language in denouncing the Budapest-born billionaire. The posters featured a grinning picture of Mr Soros with the words: “Don’t let Soros have the closing laugh.”

But talking in Jerusalem on Thursday, Mr Netanyahu thanked Mr Orbán for “defending Israel”.

Hungary in December abstained when the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to reject the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The country additionally joined the Czech Republic and Romania in blockading a European Union declaration criticising Washington’s decision to pass its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

“You have stood up for Israel time and time again in global forums. It is deeply appreciated, and it is important… on this Hungary has led the cost many, many times, and I thank you for it,” Mr Netanyahu said, at a joint press conference with the Hungarian leader.

“I heard you speak, as a actual buddy of Israel, about the need to combat antisemitism,” he added.

Mr Orbán for his phase pledged “zero tolerance” for antisemitism and to cooperate “in the combat against” it.

“All of the Jewish residents in Hungary are below the safety of the government,” he said.

Yet the visit has sparked uproar in Israel, where there were calls for it to be cancelled.

After praising Horthy final year, Mr Orbán denounced Mr Soros as one of Hungary’s enemies that “do not accept as true with in work, however speculate with money”.

Using language that was antisemitic in tone, Mr Orbán added: “They have no homeland however sense that the entire world is theirs.”

Opposition MP Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid and a conceivable rival to the Israeli prime minister, labelled Mr Orbán’s go to a “disgrace”.

“Today Netanyahu will give honour to Prime Minister Orbán of Hungary, who praised the antisemitic ruler [Horthy] who collaborated with the Nazis in the extermination of Hungarian Jewry. A disgrace!” he wrote on Twitter.

Tamar Zandberg, an MP in the left wing Meretz party, tweeted in Hungarian that Mr Orbán was no longer welcome in Israel.

Mr Orbán, who landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening, met Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and one of Israel’s chief rabbis, and later took a tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

On Friday he is set to visit the Western Wall earlier than departing.

The traveling chief has no scheduled talks with Palestinian leaders, breaking standard protocol for travelling EU leaders. Only his deputy, Zsolt Semjén, will go to Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity in the occupied West Bank.

Mr Orbán has forged himself as a champion of Christian Europe and faced fierce protests from within Hungary’s 100,000 robust Jewish population lower back home for his apparently antisemitic viewpoints.

Mr Orbán has also confronted criticised from inside the EU over a proposed regulation which would criminalise those who provide assist to migrants. The legislative bundle was dubbed the “stop Soros” laws by using the Hungarian government as it targeted Soros’s open-border values and advocacy. Pro-government media said the bills should see Mr Soros banned from Hungary.

But no matter accusations Mr Orbán had stoked antisemitism in Europe, he has taken a firm stance in help of Israel at a time when Mr Netanyahu is increasingly looking to European allies as he faces mounting criticism from the EU.

Mr Orbán’s quick remain comes a 12 months after a landmark visit by means of Mr Netanyahu to Budapest, the first go to to Hungary with the aid of an Israeli premier due to the fact the fall of Communism in 1989.

At the time, Mr Netanyahu praised the Visegrád Group, which includes Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and whose nationalist stances have been a thorn in Brussels’ side.