Over the weekend, Israel’s ambassador to Hungary criticized the government’s billboard campaign touting the results of the recent national consultation, but Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly called on the ambassador to retract the statement and issued one of its own.
“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,” reads the communiqué. Reports indicated that Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Netanyahu himself intervened to issue the new statement clarifying the government’s position.
The event highlights the absurdity we face these days. Here we have George Soros, a man who has been convicted for illegal financial dealings in certain countries and banned from several others and his extensive network of non-governmental organizations pushing his radical, countercultural, open society agenda. The media is fond of reporting that he “has spent a large part of his fortune funding pro-democracy and human rights groups”, but his agenda carries zero democratic mandate nor has any accountability to the citizens of these countries. It has set its sights on de-stabilizing governments in the Balkans, supporting enemies of Israel and sending to Europe hundreds of thousands of unchecked migrants from the Middle East and Africa, some of which are home to terrorist organizations that have publicly declared their hostile intent towards Europe and exploited the continent’s weak border security to move people and material. These facts are hardly news to most us (read more here, here and here).
The government of Hungary exposed this agenda years ago, and because illegal migration and the protection of our borders are matters of national security, we’ve gone to considerable lengths to seek democratic support to counter it – and a public awareness campaign is one of the tools.
The Orbán Governments have done more than any preceding government to counter anti-Semitism in Hungary, and we have deliberately never spoken of Soros’s Jewish heritage – specifically because it has nothing to do with the criticism of what he is doing.
Nevertheless, we find ourselves continually confronting this line. Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans was among the first to imply that criticizing Soros equals anti-Semitism, but others have followed with this thoughtless criticism.
Not everybody, though.
“I don't know of any internationally accepted norm according to which referring to Soros would be considered anti-Semitic talk,” said Hungarian Rabbi Slomó Köves. The Israeli Ambassador to Budapest previously said, “[N]ot every criticism is anti-Semitism. I would not protect George Soros just because he's Jewish. No one is beyond criticism just because he's Jewish.”
In the Hungarian Jewish cultural magazine, Szombat.org, János Gadó elaborated further: “[T]he Hungarian government does not carry out anti-Semitic politics. It supports the reconstruction of the burned down synagogue in Zugló with 131 million forints. It awards the president of the Bar-Ilan University, indicating it has no issues with Jews, neither with universities and even less with Jewish universities.”
And now comes Israeli Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Benjamin Netanyahu with the categorical statement about Soros continuously undermining democratically elected governments. Those who claim that Hungary’s government is anti-Semitic because it stands up to an unelected billionaire political activist (who, by the way, happens to be Jewish) are losing this argument.
Criticizing Soros and his undemocratic agenda is not anti-Semitism. Insisting so is cynical and dishonest.