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Netanyahu withdraws protest against anti-Soros poster campaign 

July 12th, 2017

Commentators sharply disagree about whether the government’s anti-immigration ad and billboard campaign depicting George Soros is anti-Semitic or not.

Following an appeal by MAZSIHISZ, the Federation of Jewish Faith Communities, Israel’s Ambassador Yossi Amrani criticized the campaign depicting George Soros as a main supporter of illegal immigration: both expressed the fear that the campaign may incite anti-Semitic hatred.  In his first reaction to the issue on Tuesday, Mr Soros also accused the government of using anti-Semitic imagery. On Monday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry retracted Ambassador Amrani’s statement, noting that George Soros also attacks the Israeli government and supports groups which “deny Israel the right to self-defence”. PM Orbán as well as other government luminaries rejected the accusations of anti-Semitism, emphasizing that George Soros is being criticized for his political views, rather than for his ancestry or religion. Gergely Gulyás, Deputy Speaker of the House (Fidesz) said that it is not the government, but rather its critics who bring race into political discourse. KDNP MP István Hollik claimed that the ‘uncontrolled migration’ advocated by George Soros leads to the import of mass antisemitism from the Middle East. Mr Hollik added that the government protects all its citizens and minorities and specifically declared zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism. 

In Heti Világgazdaság, László Seres suggests that as George Soros often lambasts Israel as a racist and anti-democratic state, Israel is justified to introduce harsh security measures including legislation on foreign funded NGOs. The same rhetoric and policies, however, he contends, are used by the Hungarian government “to incite anti-immigrant hysteria” only, as Hungary is not threatened by mass migration or foreign funded NGOs.

Kettős Mérce’s András Jámbor thinks that the government’s billboards are not anti-Semitic, but may unleash anti-Semitic sentiments. The left-wing blogger argues that the posters do not attack Jews, but do incite hatred, and thus he calls on ‘all sensible Hungarians’ to protest against them.

In Magyar Hírlap, Ervin Nagy believes that the opposition and anti-government NGOs try to stigmatize the Orbán government in order to mobilize public support. The pro-government columnist thinks that through accusations of fascism and anti-Semitism, the opposition wants to create a firm moral ground for a broad anti-government wave of protest to be launched in the autumn.  While the Left accuses the Orbán government of anti-Semitism, it is preparing an alliance with Jobbik, the radical right-wing party the Left used to accuse of anti-Semitism, he remarks.

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