Hungarian political life is winding down for the holidays. Normally, in the morning it takes me a couple of hours to read the news of the day in Hungary and elsewhere. But today there was not much to read about, save for a news item that arrived on my computer around noon.
The article came from The Jerusalem Post with the intriguing title “Likud Official Provided Intel for Hungarian Anti-Soros Campaign.” According to the article, about six months ago Eli Hazan, Likud’s international relations director, informed Viktor Orbán that Soros was “a dangerous man” who supported V15, an organization that had sought to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2015 election. A few weeks later, the Hungarian government launched a campaign against George Soros which, Hazan indicated, was a direct consequence of the information he had passed on to Orbán.
The Israeli NGO V15 did indeed want to see Benjamin Netanyahu defeated in 2015 and in partnership with a New York-based group called OneVoice tried to convince Israelis to vote the Likud government out of office. OneVoice is a global initiative that supports grassroots activists in Israel and Palestine who are working “to build the human infrastructure needed to create the necessary conditions for a just and negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” I read in Haaretz that V15 was also funded by the Jewish-American businessman S. Daniel Abraham. George Soros’s name was not mentioned, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Open Society Foundation supported the organization as well. In any case, Netanyahu’s Likud Party accused V15 of serving the interests of the Labor Party. The State Comptroller, however, ruled in October 2016 that “calling on people to vote for various political blocs does not constitute election propaganda.” So, whatever information Eli Hazan passed on to Viktor Orbán, it was most likely tainted and biased.
Hazan seems to be well acquainted with the situation in Budapest, and he is aware of the Hungarian Jews’ distaste for the anti-Soros campaign, which they consider to be anti-Semitic. In fact, after Hazan had written an op-ed for Israel Hayom, Israel’s largest daily paper which is considered to be biased in favor of Netanyahu, Hungarian Jewish officials asked him “not to talk about Soros.” Hazan is convinced, however, that “it’s in the Jewish interest to support Orbán.” He admits that there are anti-Semites in Orbán’s party, but “I can talk to him. We have a lot in common, like the fight against infiltrators.” I don’t know whom he is calling “infiltrators,” perhaps Muslims, perhaps foreign liberals.
If Hazan is telling the truth, the incredible hate campaign against George Soros in Hungary was hatched in Jerusalem for Israeli political reasons. Of course, Netanyahu needed a willing partner, whom he found in Viktor Orbán.
From everything that I’ve read about the Israeli prime minister’s views on Soros, I’m almost certain that he considers Soros to be behind all of his political opponents. At least that is what a meme that his son Yair Netanyahu posted on Facebook indicates. The meme is called “The Food Chain.” Soros is depicted holding a fishing rod with planet Earth on the hook as his bait. That captures the attention of a reptilian-like figure (apparently a common reference in anti-Semitic literature) that, in turn, holds up a fishing rod with a symbol of the Freemasons. The hooded figure is a scheming Illuminati Jew. The three characters are Israeli politicians, political opponents of Netanyahu–Ehud Barak, former prime minister; Eldad Yaniv, organizer of anti-Netanyahu protests; and Meni Naftali, former chief caretaker of the Netanyahus’ official residence, who won an abuse case against Sara Netanyahu.
Israeli commentators couldn’t decide whether this post by the prime minister’s son was supposed to be a joke or whether he actually believes in conspiracy theories. Opposition politicians, however, didn’t spare words in condemning his posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon.
Yair Netanyahu might have been in a joking mood, but one must assume that his father believes that NGOs are agents of his domestic opponents and that they are financed by foreign millionaires and billionaires of a liberal bent who want to topple his right-wing government.
I’m almost certain that Netanyahu shared that thought with Orbán when he visited Budapest. Orbán’s latest accusation against Soros-funded NGOs bears a suspicious resemblance to Netanyahu’s claim that V15 was a participant on the side of the Labor Party, working against his reelection in 2015. As a result, the two charitable organizations in Pécs and Debrecen have been transformed into election centers. Everything seems to fit nicely. Viktor Orbán discovered that the Israeli recipe is a politically useful tool.
As for the concerns of the Hungarian Jewish community, Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t seem to care very much. If there is any trouble, Likud’s international community director will take care of it because he and Orbán understand each other so well.