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May 03, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

Here’s what you should know about the people behind that recent letter asking Chancellor Merkel to condemn PM Orbán

In the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s – albeit perhaps a bit less youthful – a group of “academics, writers and activists” recently called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to condemn Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and have his party “expelled” from the EPP party alliance.

The open letter, which was published in POLITICO, failed to get the most basic facts correct – like the year the Orbán Government was first elected – yet it brazenly throws around baseless accusations against this government, claiming that we are “anti-Semitic” and “anti-democratic.”

In fact, the governing parties were just re-elected by a substantial majority in elections that saw the highest voter turnout since 2002. That’s hardly “anti-democratic”. The Orbán Governments, as I’ve written previously, have done more for the Hungarian Jewish community than all other governments combined. We have criticized George Soros for his ideologically driven political meddling, but we have never spoken of his heritage. The Soros idea of “open societies” is being spread through the billionaire’s extensive network of institutions and many, including the Israeli Prime Minister, take a stand against it. This has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. But let’s not let facts get in the way

Look a little closer and we begin to understand why the signatories can’t be bothered with facts. What appears on the surface like a list of concerned “academics, writers and activists” becomes something quite different when we know the history behind the names.

The list kicks off with Yascha Mounk, who joined Germany’s Socialist Party, SPD, at the age of 13 and remained a member until 2015, demonstrating against the German government to provide more funding for illegal immigrants.

Second on the list is Volker Beck, a former member of the Bundestag, who made a name for himself in the 1980s for fighting for the decriminalization of pedophilia and drugs and more recently for his denunciations of Prime Minister Orbán. He is followed by a columnist from Der Spiegel, the German paper that just destroyed its credibility as independent media when it comes to Hungary.

While the list consists mostly of people unknown to the general public and B-list intellectuals, it becomes apparent from the order of signatures that the letter was drafted by those affiliated with the broader Open Society network of George Soros and politicians of the European far-left.

Among the co-signers, we find a former program manager for George Soros’ Open Society Institute in Prague, Maria Nemcova, who is responsible for managing the media investments of the billionaire through his Media Development Investment Fund. Next to her, we find the current director of the Open Society Foundation in Bratislava, Jan Orlovksy, and a member of the Soros-supported Amnesty International, Daniel Tobias, besides an ocean of talking heads from various “civic” groups that have stood out as staunch opponents of the Orbán Government.

The line that Hungary under the Orbán Government has become anti-democratic and anti-Semitic for criticizing the Soros agenda comes from the guy at the top, George Soros himself. The Hungarian-born billionaire Soros avoids open, public debate of issues and pushes an ideology that most voters would consider far outside the mainstream. He drives his agenda through a network of activists that portray themselves as “civic organizations” but are in effect paid lobbyists acting in concert with sympathetic politicians to put pressure on elected governments like Hungary’s or, in the case of this letter, Germany’s.

The letter published in POLITICO marks one more step in these machinations. Rather than a list of concerned European citizens, it should be seen for what it really is: a group of Soros-aligned activists and politicians of the European left engaged in a partisan effort to malign the Orbán Government and create divisions among the governments of EU member states.

Prime Minister Orbán stands among very few European leaders who have dared to put topics like immigration before the voters. He has called for a more open debate in Europe and respect for the will of the citizens. In return, he has been re-elected with the strongest democratic mandate he has ever had.

By contrast, those who signed this letter have no democratic mandate. It’s precisely this kind of political meddling, so lacking in transparency, that the Hungarian legislation on NGOs aims to address. The so-called civic organizations in Hungary that are funded from abroad must be held to standards of real transparency. Our citizens have a right to know.