The Hungarian government’s campaign against billionaire George Soros reached a new level of demonization Wednesday: M1, Hungary’s state-controlled television network, cited Iran’s Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, denouncing Soros as “an evil American and rich Zionist,” as a source for a program criticizing Soros.
The report on M1’s Hiradó news program first asserted that Soros had interfered in elections in Canada and France via civil organizations he financially supports, the English language Budapest Beacon news website, reported Thursday. The program then cited a quote from the Iranian leader’s official website in support of its contention.
“An evil American and rich Zionist said that he managed to turn everything upside down in Georgia with $10 million,” Khamenei said, referring to Soros and his alleged role in the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia.
“In 2009, he was foolish enough to try to affect the Islamic republic, but he slammed against a strong wall of national will and determination. It is the same today,” he said.
Khamenei’s reference to 2009 appeared to indicate he believes Soros was behind the widespread opposition to former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election then amid widespread charges of election fraud, with protesters marching in the street. Iranian security and paramilitary forces jailed thousands and killed between 36 and 72 protesters, according to conflicting estimates from each side.
M1 TV’s marshaling of Khamenei as a credible source for an expose purporting to show Soros as an election manipulator comes amid an increasingly shrill campaign against Soros by Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, in which the Hungarian leader has often invoked classical anti-Semitic imagery.
Defending legislation that could close down the Budapest-based Central European University, a prestigious school founded by Soros after the fall of communism, Orbán said in an April 26 speech to the European Parliament, “I know that the power, size and weight of Hungary is much smaller than that of the financial speculator, George Soros, who is now attacking Hungary, and who —despite ruining the lives of millions of European people with his financial speculations, and being penalized in Hungary for speculations, and who is an openly admitted enemy of the Euro — is so highly praised that he is received by the E.U.’s top leaders.”
Asked whether the prime minister’s repeated invocation of Soros, the “financial speculator,” was anti-Semitic, Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s first vice president, told the German weekly Die Zeit, “I understood that in exactly the same way as you.”
Larry Cohler-Esses is the Forward’s senior investigative writer. He joined the staff in December 2008. Previously, he served as Editor-at-Large for the Jewish Week, an investigative reporter for the New York Daily News, and as a staff writer for the Jewish Week as well as the Washington Jewish Week. Larry has written extensively on the Arab-Jewish relations both in the United States and the Middle East. His articles have won awards from the Society for Professional Journalists, the Religious Newswriters Association, the New York Press Association and the Rockower Awards for Jewish Journalism, among others. Larry Cohler-Esses can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.