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Israel's love-in with Hungary’s anti-Semites exposes the ugly core of Zionism

July 26, 2017 at 9:41 am

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, 18 July, 2017 [Bernadett Szabo/Reuters]

The official ideology of the state of Israel, Zionism, has always been an anti-Semitic political project. While Zionism projects itself as a solution to European anti-Semitism, in reality it has meant its continuation in spirit and practice.

The basic premise behind Zionism has always been a fundamentally anti-Jewish one. The idea that Jews are not genuine citizens of their countries of origin in Europe and elsewhere, and that they should leave to become settlers in a foreign country — Israel — is one that the political left has no trouble in recognising as anti-Semitic when it is uttered by the political right. When the same lie comes out of the mouths of Zionists, though (including some liberal and left-wing groups), they get a free pass because they support Israel. It’s time for this hypocrisy to end and admit that Zionism is anti-Semitism.

Yet more proof of this emerged earlier this month with the George Soros affair in Hungary. The right-wing government launched a blatantly anti-Semitic poster campaign targeting immigrants; posters displayed Soros’s smiling face and the caption, “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh!”

A Hungarian-born Jew, Soros is a billionaire investor and funder of liberal causes via his Open Society Foundations. Beneficiaries of his largesse include groups which promote more open immigration policies.

The clearly implied message of the posters was that wealthy Jews are behind a plot to swamp Hungary with immigrants, a typical fascist propaganda lie. Human Rights Watch, an organisation partly-funded by Soros, condemned the campaign, saying that it “evokes memories of the Nazi posters during the Second World War.”

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The Jewish community in Hungary voiced concerns too, and the Israeli embassy in Budapest initially did the same. However, hours later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who is also the foreign minister — overruled the embassy in a statement issued by the foreign ministry. The “clarification” stated that George Soros “continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments” and claimed that he funds organisations “that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”

Another group supported by Soros’s foundations is B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group dedicated to documenting Israel’s abuses of Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s “clarification” was remarkable in that it offered support to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Last month, Orban praised Hungary’s World War Two leader Miklos Horthy, calling him an “exceptional statesman.” Horthy was an ally of Adolf Hitler and his regime collaborated with the Nazis by deporting Jews. Half a million Hungarian Jews were killed in the Nazi Holocaust.

And yet Netanyahu gave his backing to the Hungarian leader in the run-up to his visit to Budapest earlier this month, during which he praised Orban’s pro-Israel credentials. “There is a new anti-Semitism that is expressed in anti-Zionism and that is in delegitimising the only Jewish state,” Netanyahu said after talks with Orban. “Hungary is, in many ways, at the forefront of the states that are opposed to this.”


This is Israeli policy in a nutshell: anti-Semitism is redefined from “hatred of Jews as Jews” to “criticism of Israel”. This has reached such an extreme peak that even non-Jewish Zionists are permitted to get away with the most outlandish anti-Jewish comments as long as they support Israel right or wrong.

The affair reminds us of a hideously anti-Semitic cartoon created in 2015 by a publicly-funded Israeli settlers’ organisation. The grotesque piece of propaganda was an all-out attack on B’Tselem, Yesh Din and other Israeli human rights groups. In it, a shifty-eyed, large-nosed character dubbed only “Ze Jew” has European coins tossed at him in exchange for inventing propaganda lies against Israel. A classically anti-Semitic piece of incitement against Jewish critics of Israel, it was even titled “The Eternal Jew” after a 1940 Nazi propaganda film.

As Haaretz put it recently in an editorial about the Soros affair, “Those who advance universalist agendas and fight for human rights, including the rights of minorities and foreigners, are denounced in Israel as enemies.”

Jewish activists in the Palestine solidarity movement in Britain routinely report being the victim of the most viciously anti-Semitic denunciations by Zionists, who often express the wish that the activists or their families had been killed in the Holocaust.

As for Soros, right-wing Hungary and right-wing Israel seem to have found common cause. Soon after Netanyahu backed Orban’s anti-Semitic campaign of incitement, a lawmaker in his hard-right Likud Party proposed what he called a “Soros Law” to block donations to left wing groups enjoying foreign funding.

Israel’s love-in with Hungary’s anti-Semites exposes the ugly core of Zionism. Its descent into ever more openly-expressed fascism continues apace.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.