Soros weighs in on ‘anti-Semitic’ tone of Hungarian gov’t

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wikimedia commons Niccolò Caranti

Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist George Soros, who has been demonized by the Hungarian government in its ongoing billboard campaign, says that the government is using “anti-Semitic imagery” through the campaign portraying him, according to a press statement reported by the BBC.

According to Soros, many Hungarian Jews fear the stirring of an anti-Semitic mood around the billboard campaign, although the government has refuted any such suggestion.

On July 5, András Heisler, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz), addressed an open letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán calling for the removal of the billboards and posters. However, Orbán issued a defiant letter to Heisler in response, reiterating criticisms of Soros in relation to what he sees as interference in immigration policy.

Just days after Orbán accused Soros of building a “Brussels kingdom,” and of direct involvement in the European Commissionʼs ongoing infringement procedure against Hungary for its refusal to participate in the EU-wide relocation of refugees, the government erected billboards and posters portraying a smiling Soros with the caption: “Letʼs not let Soros have the last laugh!” The campaign, as the BBC reports, is estimated to have cost taxpayers HUF 5.7 billion.

“I am distressed by the current Hungarian regimeʼs use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign,” the BBC quoted Soros as saying. “Equally, I am heartened that, together with countless fellow citizens, the leadership of the Hungarian Jewish community has spoken out against the campaign,” he added.

Chiefly through his Open Society Foundations, Soros has spent USD 12 billion since the 1980s on civil initiatives to reduce poverty and increase transparency, and on scholarships and universities around the world, especially in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the BBC report recalls.

The BBC notes that the posters have also drawn anger from outside the country.

Guy Verhofstadt, the chief Brexit negotiator at the European Parliament and leader of the Parliamentʼs liberals, was quoted as writing on Facebook: “The Hungarian regimeʼs xenophobia and demonization of refugees are anti-European. The claim that Soros is promoting a scheme to import a million illegal immigrants into Europe is Viktor Orbánʼs fantasy. Darkness falls in Hungary. We cannot let this happen.”

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