Which foreign leaders should Israel welcome?

One does not have to sympathize with Orban to welcome him. Neither does one have to like the illiberal character of his government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Hungary's controversial right-wing, anti-immigrant prime minister, Viktor Orban who is visiting Israel (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Hungary's controversial right-wing, anti-immigrant prime minister, Viktor Orban who is visiting Israel
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
There were several negative reactions in Israel to the welcome Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban received during his recent visit to the country. The arguments brought forward included Orban’s rehabilitation of Hungary’s antisemitic leader and ally of Hitler, Admiral Miklós Horthy. There were also complaints about Orban’s illiberalism and the antisemitism in Hungary.
It was 80 years ago in July that the Evian conference took place to discuss the fate of the Jewish refugees, who had nowhere to flee.
Except for the Dominican Republic, no country was willing to accept them. The democracies at that time were unsavory nations, the others were usually worse.
Democracies and other states are still partly unsavory, be it in a mutated way. The big difference in the world is the arrival of biased supranational bodies. For instance, the voting pattern at the UN General Assembly concerning Israel, according to the prime definition of antisemitism – that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – leads to the conclusion that the UN is a frequently antisemitic institution.
In view of the superficial comments against Orban’s visit, it is worthwhile to try to establish more rational political criteria – in addition to business considerations – for welcoming visiting state leaders. These could include issues such as: 1) Does the government of the visiting leader financially support the Palestinian Authority, which enables it to free other monies to incentivize and pay murderers of Israelis and their families? 2) Does that country vote against Israel in the UN, and where relevant, in the EU? 3) Does that country’s government interfere in Israel’s internal affairs? 4) Has the country let in a massive number of Muslims without barring the antisemites among them? 5) Are Jews in the visiting leader’s country subject to violence? 6) Do the country’s leaders distort the Holocaust?
Other criteria could include: When country leaders visit Israel, do they also visit the Palestinian Authority, thereby placing it at the same level as Israel? Does their government support BDS-promoting organizations? As the level of sophistication in this investigating process increases, different weights can also be given to the various categories listed.
The reproach that Orban has rehabilitated Horthy, the antisemitic leader of his country from 1920 to 1944 is justified. Horthy applied antisemitic measures already before the Second World War. However, Hungary does not finance the Palestinian Authority, it usually does not vote against Israel in supranational institutions, it has not let in Muslim refugees and thus avoided the import of extreme antisemites among them. There is sizable verbal incitement against Jews in Hungary, but little or no violence against them. Orban’s government does not interfere in Israel’s internal politics. The Hungarian Prime Minister did not visit the Palestinian Authority. As far as I recall, the synagogues in Budapest I went to did not need security guards. The Hungarian government does not give money to BDS-supporting institutions.
Israel would gladly welcome French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. The Israeli opposition politicians who came out against Orban would most likely remain silent. On most of the other above criteria – except for the distortion of the Holocaust – France’s reality is far more negative than that of Hungary. France is the West European country where the majority of murders of Jews for ideological reasons in this century have taken place. No Western European country has such a significant percentage of Jews emigrating as France.
One does not have to sympathize with Orban to welcome him. Neither does one have to like the illiberal character of his government. One should try to prevent further Holocaust distortion. Yet one has to close one’s eyes to much more of France’s behavior to cordially welcome a French prime minister.
One can apply the same criteria also for instance to The Netherlands. The Dutch Government enacts Holocaust distortion in an indirect way. Its predecessor in exile in London was totally disinterested in the fate of the persecuted Jews in the occupied Netherlands. It did not even do the minimum it could do. The Netherlands is the only country in Western Europe that has not admitted to its wartime failures. In contrast, several Hungarian leaders have admitted their country’s lethal and incomparably more severe Holocaust failures. Orban has denounced the wartime alliance of Hungary with Germany.     
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte “a great friend of Israel.” If we look at the above criteria this qualifies as fake news. The Dutch cabinet recently concluded that it is unwise for Israel to deduct money from the Palestinian Authority an amount equal to what it pays to murderers of Israelis. 
If governments employed psychiatrists for themselves, the opinion that Israel should indirectly pay the murderers of its citizens would be a valid reason for referral. On most of the above criteria, The Netherlands comes out in a more negative light than Hungary.
The fact that it is usually more pleasant to be on vacation in The Netherlands rather than in Hungary is not relevant in this context.
In this way, one can go on investigating other EU member countries. Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz visited Israel recently.
His country ranks quite positive on most of the above criteria. Yet the junior partner in the Austrian government is the Freedom party FPÖ, which has Nazi origins. Its leader Heinz-Christian Strache has called for a ban on unstunned ritual slaughter.
The important issue here is not to analyze all EU members, but to demonstrate a methodology that enables better thinking than that used by the political opponents of Orban’s visit. To conclude the ranking: using this methodology the Czech Republic probably comes out at the top. Sweden on the other hand is near the bottom.
The writer is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and the International Leadership Award.