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Jewish leader calls on Orbán to remove Soros posters

History

András Heisler, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz), has addressed an open letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán calling for the removal of billboards and posters depicting a smiling George Soros with the caption: “Letʼs not let Soros have the last laugh!” Heisler expressed fears that the posters would provoke anti-Semitic sentiments.

The main caption reads: “Letʼs not let Soros have the last laugh!” The smaller text at the top says: "National Consultation 2017: 99% reject illegal immigration." (Photo: LaMography)

The government billboards began appearing all over the capital and beyond just days after Orbán accused Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist George Soros of building a “Brussels kingdom.” He also suggested that Soros is directly involved in the European Commissionʼs ongoing infringement procedure against Hungary for its refusal to participate in the relocation of refugees, and urged Hungarians to “not let Soros have the last laugh.”

Earlier in the week, the Mazsihisz president suggested that “this poster campaign reawakens bad memories among the domestic Jewish population – and this is irrespective of the intent of the campaignʼs creators.”

In the open letter addressed to Orbán, dated July 5, Heisler goes much further, saying that the governmentʼs “sorosozás,” or repeated public reference to Soros - who is Jewish - in a pejorative context, “carries serious risks.”

“This campaign is not openly anti-Semitic, but even so, is very apt for stirring uncontrolled emotions, among them anti-Semitic ones,” argues Heisler in the letter. He adds that in recent days, posters displayed on the streets of Budapest and several other big cities have been defaced with texts “evoking the dark times of Hungaryʼs history,” and notes that “the invisible damage to society is in all probability even more serious.”

To illustrate Heislerʼs point, online news portal 444.hu accompanied its report of the open letter with a photograph of one of the Soros posters defaced with the words “büdös zsidó” (“stinking Jew”) emblazoned across his forehead, an insult long familiar in Hungary.

Heisler goes on to appeal, “as a Hungarian compatriot,” to the government and to Orbán to curtail the campaign immediately and remove the posters from streets and squares.

“As our elected leaders, you have a historical responsibility not to allow hatred to gain ascendancy in our country, and not to turn Hungarian people against each other,” Heisler says in the letter, adding that “these poisonous messages hurt Hungary as a whole.”

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