Hungarian Jews on Wednesday sharply criticized Viktor Orban’s billboard campaign using the image of U.S. financier George Soros and said the Israeli government’s backing of it came as a disappointment to the local Jewish community.
In the campaign, Soros is singled out as an enemy of Hungary. “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh” say billboards next to a picture of the 86-year-old Jewish investor, a campaign that Jewish groups say foments anti-Semitism.
Addressing Prime Minister Orban and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a ceremonial hall near the main synagogue in Budapest, Andras Heisler, chairman of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Federations (Mazsihisz), said it was unacceptable that the campaign triggered fear among Jews.
“Today, in Hungary an all-out propaganda campaign could be started with visual and lingustic tools that triggered bad feelings among us Jews,” Heisler said.
Ahead of Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest, Israel’s Foreign Ministry last week issued a statement saying that Soros was a legitimate target for criticism.
Heisler said the statement was a “let-down for our community.” He also called on Netanyahu to ensure greater recognition for disapora Jews in Hungary.
Neither Orban, who faces an election next year, nor Netanyahu reacted to the comments in their subsequent speeches.—Reuters