Israel not defending Soros in denouncing campaign against him, Foreign Ministry clarifies

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 12, 2017

Some posters have been attacked with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Posters have appeared in Hungarian streets showing a picture of the investor grinning, along with the caption: "Don't let Soros have the last laugh".

"In no way was the statement [by the ambassador] meant to delegitimise criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel's democratically elected governments", said foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, adding that Soros funded organisations "that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself".

As a result, Israel's ambassador to Hungary, Yossi Amrani, issued a statement on Saturday calling for the campaign to be shut down, saying it "evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear" in an apparent reference to Hungary's role in the deportation of half a million Jews during the Holocaust.

Following Israel's shift of stance, many Israeli politicians and activists now claim that the current government, led by Netanyahu's conservative Likud party, prefers bluntly anti-Semitic views over what is perceived as "left-wing" opinions. "Equally, I am heartened that together with countless fellow citizens the leadership of the Hungarian Jewish community has spoken out against the campaign".

Hungary's right-wing prime minister Viktor Orban has launched a searing campaign against billionaire Soros, who is at odds with the right-wing, nationalist government in Budapest.

Soros has endorsed non-governmental organizations in Israel that promote Palestinian causes, paint Israel as an apartheid state responsible for systemic war crimes, and promote the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

"But the left-wing clerks in the ministry didn't even ask Netanyahu (before issuing the condemnation), who then forced them to publish a clarification".

Meanwhile, Orban's campaign has also been criticized by Jewish groups, including the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Congregations (Mazsihisz), which has called on the Hungarian prime minister to end it.

In response to the campaign, Jewish Hungarians called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel his planned visit to the country next week. And on July 19, both Netanyahu and Orban are scheduled to meet with the premiers of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. "Netanyahu's support legitimizes this despicable campaign, and antisemites around the world will use it", Gal-On said.

Vachon said the campaign had clearly anti-Semitic overtones that were "reminiscent of Europe's darkest hours".

Others have commented on Shaffir's or Eliassi's posts, such as Riki Kovacs Goldshteyn, who called Netanyahu's retraction "very disturbing".

There are around 50,000 Jews in Hungary.

"Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred".

"The Hungarian regime's xenophobia and demonization of refugees are anti-European", he said.

"The person who uses his wealth, power, influence, and a network of NGOs funded by him to settle millions of migrants in Hungary and the European Union puts our future in jeopardy", Orban wrote, apparently oblivious of the welcome overseas given to hundreds of thousands of Hungarian refugees after the 1956 revolution.

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