israel backs viktor orban – that means viktory!

Israel backs Hungary, says financier Soros is a threat
Luke Baker, Reuters, Jul 11 2017 (Additional reporting by Marton Dunai in Budapest)

Israel’s foreign ministry has issued a statement denouncing Soros, a move that appears designed to align Israel more closely with Hungary ahead of a visit to Budapest next week by Netanyahu. Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew who has spent a large part of his fortune funding pro-democracy and human rights groups, has repeatedly been targeted by Hungary’s right-wing government, in particular over his support for more open immigration. In the latest case, PM Viktor Orban has backed a campaign in which Soros is singled out as an enemy of the state. “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh” say billboards next to a picture of the 86-year-old investor, a campaign that Jewish groups and others say foments anti-Semitism. Hungarian Jewish groups and HRW, an organization partly funded by Soros, have condemned the campaign, saying it “evokes memories of the Nazi posters during WW2.” Many posters have been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti, including the words “stinking Jew” written in magic marker. Israel’s ambassador to Hungary issued a statement denouncing the campaign against Soros, saying it “evokes sad memories, but also sows hatred and fear.” But hours after the ambassador made his comments over the weekend, Israel’s foreign ministry issued a “clarification” saying that Soros was a legitimate target for criticism. Foreign ministry spox Emmanuel Nahshon said:

In no way was the statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments, (and who funds organizations) that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.

The foreign ministry’s unusual decision to issue a statement clarifying comments by one of its ambassadors comes days before Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Orban. Israel is normally quick to denounce anti-Semitism or threats to Jewish communities anywhere in the world, but it chose to focus on the threat it believes Soros poses to Israeli democracy. Among the organizations Soros funds is HRW, which is frequently critical of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its policies toward the Palestinians. Like Hungary, Israel has passed legislation that seeks to limit the influence of NGOs that receive a large proportion of their funding from abroad. Israel and Hungary were briefly at odds last month after Orban praised Admiral Horthy, calling him an “exceptional statesman.” Initially Israel expressed alarm, but then quickly accepted the Hungarian government’s assurances that Orban had zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and was not suggesting everything Horthy did was positive. The strong ties between Netanyahu and Orban have raised eyebrows in the Chancelleries of Old Yurp, where Orban is regarded as an illiberal maverick. His party has curtailed press freedom and stymied EU efforts to tackle the migrant crisis. Hungary has held discussions with Israel about purchasing security fences to keep migrants out.

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