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Netanyahu expected in Hungary, controversial support for Orban

Ⓒ POOL/AFP/Archives – Dan Balilty – | Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, January 17, 2016

Hungary is preparing to welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a historic visit that Viktor Orban hopes to take advantage of to counter criticism of latent antisemitism in his crusade against billionaire George Soros.

Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with his counterpart on Tuesday after the first visit of an Israeli leader to Hungary since the fall of communism in 1989.

On Wednesday, the Czech, Slovak and Polish Prime Ministers will join the meetings in the Hungarian capital, presenting Israel’s Prime Minister with a united front against the European Union’s immigration policy and well disposed towards US President Donald Trump, As is Benjamin Netanyahu.

The latter can expect to find a “favorable ear” with these eastern European governments “rather homogeneous in their opposition to migration flows and their fear of Islamic extremism,” says Raphael Vago, a specialist in this field. Region at the University of Tel Aviv, interrogated by AFP.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Hungary was preceded by intense polemic with the Jewish community in the country, which is home to around 100,000 people, one of the largest in Europe.

The latter criticized the conservative right-wing government of Viktor Orban for stirring anti-Semitism with the new part of its campaign against George Soros, an American of Hungarian-Jewish origin, whose half-grimacing face was placarded during Fifteen days throughout the country, to denounce his supposed action in favor of immigration.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – ATTILA KISBENEDEK – | The American billionaire George Soros on a poster in Szekesfehervar in Hungary on July 6, 2017

“The visit of Benjamin Netanyahu can help Orban because it gives credit to his denials that the campaign against Soros is not anti-Semitic,” said Hungarian political analyst Csaba Toth to AFP.

Viktor Orban has named the businessman as the main enemy of Hungary and launched since the beginning of the year a series of actions and messages aimed at discrediting him. Soros promotes a liberal and progressive society in support of many NGOs, while it is seen by its opponents as an agitator seeking to destabilize governments by billions.

– “Zero tolerance” –

The two mandates of Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, have been enamelled by several episodes of mistrust with the Jewish community while the debate remains vivid on the national responsibility in the disappearance of nearly 600,000 Hungarian Jews during the Second World War.

At the end of June, the Prime Minister had aroused another controversy by praising Miklos Horthy, the Hungarian Allied leader of the Nazis during the Second World War, for his work after the First World War.

Since 2010, the party of Viktor Orban has been accused of multiplying, in particular through the erection of statues, the marks of rehabilitation of Horthy, celebrated for having recovered territories lost by Hungary in 1920.

Ⓒ BELGA/AFP/Archives – THIERRY ROGE – | Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Brussels on 22 June 2017

The opposition denounces a strategy to seduce the voters of the far-right party Jobbik, the main opponent of power.

In 2014, the country’s largest Jewish organization boycotted the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust, deeming Hungary too reluctant to bear responsibility for the deportation of Hungarian Jews.

Budapest has always brandished its “zero tolerance” vis-à-vis anti-Semitism. “No government has done so much for the fight against anti-Semitism in Hungary,” the executive continued this week.

Ⓒ POOL/AFP/Archives – OLIVIER HOSLET – | George Soros meets with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on 27 April 2017 to talk about measures in Hungary jeopardizing the University of Central Europe (CEU) which he founded

The anti-Soros campaign wants to draw attention to the “billionaire speculator” and the NGOs it supports with the goal of “installing a million migrants” in Hungary and the European Union, the government said.

There were voices in Israel calling on the Prime Minister to cancel his visit to Hungary, the Israeli ambassador in Budapest deploring “the sad memories but also the hatred and fear” of the campaign.

But Viktor Orban’s war against George Soros does not leave the Israeli power insensitive, accusing the billionaire of financing human rights NGOs criticizing the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories: George Soros “discredits the democratically elected governments in Israel by funding organizations that defy the Jewish state and deny it the right to defend itself, “reacted Jerusalem, while deploring” all sorts of anti-Semitism. ”

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