Hungary’s prime minister publicly admitted that his country’s collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II was both a “mistake” and a “sin” as it was a failure in protecting its Jewish community.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Tuesday that he shared to visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “this can never happen again” as Hungary “will protect all its citizens.”
Nearly 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
Netanyahu also happens to be the first Israeli prime minister to visit Hungary in nearly 30 years since 1989, when the country was still under communist rule. Netanyahu for his part said that Orban “reassured” him during the meeting of Budapest’s support for Hungarian Jews.
The visit is said to have also come at an extra sensitive time since Orban’s right-wing government just concluded a nationwide campaign against George Soros, whom they accuse of financing mass migration to Europe. Orban’s party Fidesz financed posters and billboards showing smiling photo of the 86-year-old billionaire, using the caption:”Let’s not have Soros have the last laugh.”
Some considered the move of Orban’s government as anti-Semitic. Some of the posters were said to be deliberately glued to the floors of Hungarian public transport vehicles for citizens to step on. Many of the Soro posters were also sprayed with graffiti condemning him as a “stinking Jew.”
The government also tried to close down a Soros-funded university in the city, the Central European University (CEU). In June, Hungary’s parliament approved a law to force groups receiving more than $26,000 annually in foreign funding to register as “foreign-supported organizations” or risk closure for noncompliance. The law also requires them to use that same label on their websites, press releases and other publications. Orban’s government said such law is meant to improve transparency, as well as to fight money laundering and terrorism funding.
The EU ordered its member-state Hungary to stop its “crackdown” on such foreign-backed civil society groups as Soros’. The EU even threatened Hungary with legal actions for the move against Soros.
Orban has always criticized the EU and also clashed with NGOs sponsored by Soros, a tycoon supporting liberal worldviews. The EU feels Orbon is turning Hungary into an authoritarian rule. At a recent meeting, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker greeted Orban with a “Hello Dictator!” joke, but a dig nonetheless.
Orban thinks, on the other hand, that the EU outrage on his moves against Soros as “absurd”, and practically an overkill. Months back, Orban even compared EU’s outrage with a pre-emptive murder conviction, given that Soros’ university continues to operate. He said then: “It’s almost like someone being accused of murder, then he’s convicted, while the alleged victim is alive and kicking, moreover, pointing fingers at the convicted, crying: ‘Murderer!’ .”
Orban fiercely criticized Soros, too, calling the American-Hungarian billionaire a “financial speculator” who was attacking Hungary. He also said then that Soros was bad for Europe as a whole, and said Soros “destroyed the lives of millions of Europeans with his financial speculations” and also branded Soros as “an open enemy of the euro.”
Netanyahu will also attend an event later in Budapest’s Great Synagogue with Jewish community leaders. He is set to meet with representatives of the so-called Visegrad group which includes Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, a meeting he hopes will help get their support in the diplomatic war with the Palestinians.