Hungarian government poster portraying financier George Soros and saying "Don't let George Soros have the last laugh" is seen at a tram stop in Budapest, Hungary.
(photo credit: REUTERS/KRISZTINA THAN)
The Likud’s director of International Relations provided Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party with information about American-Hungarian Jewish billionaire George Soros, that was used towards an ongoing pre-election campaign accused of being antisemitic.
“I sent Orban information about what Soros does in Israel about six months ago,” Likud International Relations Director Eli Hazan told The Jerusalem Post Monday. “We see Soros as a dangerous man who does unfair and indecent things.”
Hazan claimed that Soros supported V15, an organization that sought to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2015 election, but that it was kept secret because “Zionist Union voters wouldn’t like that someone who’s anti-Zionist supports them.”
The Likud official also said Soros “supports organizations that undermine Zionism in Israel and help terrorists and infiltrators,” a term used by the Right to describe migrants.
Several weeks after Hazan said he had sent the details, the Hungarian government launched a campaign against Soros, which made waves around the world and faced accusations of antisemitism.
The campaign against Soros’ stance on immigration showed him laughing, alongside the words “Let’s not leave Soros the last laugh,” and reportedly spurred incidents of antisemitic graffiti on the posters throughout the country.
The posters made international headlines just before Netanyahu’s visit to the country in July, and though he defended the Hungarian government’s condemnation of Soros, media reports indicated that they were taken down just ahead of his visit.
Soros’ Open Society Foundations sought to weaken ties between Israel and the EU and sow doubt regarding Israel’s status as a democracy, according to e-mails leaked online via the site DCLeaks in 2016, reportedly with the backing of Russian intelligence agencies.
OSF donates to several Israeli NGOs, including Breaking the Silence, which collects testimony from IDF veterans claiming war crimes, and Adalah, an Israeli-Arab legal-aid organization, both of which have spoken out against Israel in international forums.
The foundation has donated over $10 million since 2001 to groups working with Israeli Arabs to counter what one document called Israel’s “restrictive measures” against minorities. Another grantee is the New Israel Fund, a clearinghouse for Israeli civil rights groups, which received $837,500 from 2002 to 2015.
Hazan said that it’s “disturbing” that criticism of Soros can be antisemitic, but it does not mitigate the fact that “he does bad things.”
The Likud official faced complaints from the Hungarian Jewish community claiming that attacking Soros fuels antisemitism, after he wrote an op-ed for Israel Hayom that was translated in the Hungarian press, and gave a media interview supporting the Hungarian prime minister.
“Jews in Budapest asked me not to talk about Soros, but I think it’s in the Jewish interest to support Orban,” Hazan said. “There are antisemites in Orban’s party, and that’s problematic, but I can talk to him. We have a lot in common, like the fight against infiltrators. [Orban] apologized for Hungarian Holocaust denial, while [ultra-nationalist party] Jobbik is antisemitic, period.
“I’m very concerned about Jobbik, the antisemitic party, making a deal with the Hungarian left,” he added.
Soros made news in Israel in recent months when the prime minister’s son, Yair Netanyahu, posted an image on Facebook using antisemitic imagery. It depicted Soros controlling the world, via other conspiracy theory figures like lizard people – known as Reptilians – and the Illuminati or Freemasons. Those figures, according to the graphic, control former prime minister Ehud Barak, who controls failed Labor candidate Eldad Yaniv and former Prime Minister’s Residence superintendent Meni Naftali, leaders of the weekly anti-Netanyahu protests in Petah Tikva.
Likud MK Miki Zohar proposed a “Soros bill” to stop donors who are “antisemitic, inciting or hostile to[wards] Israel” from contributing to Israeli NGOs. The Strategic Affairs Ministry would determine who falls into that category.
Tamara Zieve and JTA contributed to this report.