Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs on Wednesday protested the use of “the anti-Semitism card” in a letter to the editor of The Globe and Mail in response to an op-ed published in the paper last week suggesting that non-Christian minorities were at risk in Hungary. A letter by Kovacs was also published by Bloomberg.
The author of the June 1 article, Erna Paris, had asked the question whether Jews in Hungary should “pack their bags”. The article said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had marginalised Hungary’s Jews without naming them. Paris said Orban’s “familiar anti-Semitic tropes” could have been lifted from any number of German sources between the late 18th century and 1945. Paris said the fact that US financier George Soros was a Hungarian Jew “made him an ideal target during the recent election campaign”, which she said had resulted in Orban being re-elected with a two-thirds majority.
Kovacs slammed the article saying that the “tactic” of accusing Orban of anti-Semitism “insults those who suffer from real anti-Semitism”.
The government spokesman said the Orban governments have established the Holocaust Museum and Day of Remembrance; promulgated Hungary’s new constitution, recognizing Hungarian Jewry as an inseparable part of the nation; passed laws punishing Holocaust denial, hate speech and the display of hate symbols and established a zero-tolerance policy on anti-Semitism.
“Please stop playing the anti-Semitism card. Tired and cynical, it’s an insult to many,” Kovacs said.
Bloomberg article ‘paints skewed picture’ of Hungary
In a letter addressed to the editor of the website of Bloomberg news agency in response to a recent article on the Hungarian government’s policies, Kovacs said the article painted a “skewed picture of today’s Hungary”.
In its June 1 article, Bloomberg described Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a key figure of a rise of populists threatening to divide the European Union. It cited Orban’s critics as saying that his rhetoric was “contrary to the values the EU has been built upon”. The article also said the Hungarian government had “widened a crackdown against non-governmental organisations and moved to silence dissent by undercutting the media and the judiciary”. It said political pressure has led US financier George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) to move from Budapest to Berlin.
Kovacs said the article listed “the usual litany of charges” and distorted the meaning of what is happening in parts of Europe that oppose mass migration.
The government spokesman called the OSF “a fund for ideologically driven political activism”.
“Under the so-called ‘crackdown,’ the Soros-funded Open Society network has come under stricter regulations affecting groups that survive almost exclusively on foreign funding to carry out activities that are blatantly partisan and drive an agenda that seeks to influence political outcomes,”
Kovacs said. “These groups have no democratic mandate but represent instead the very ideological interests of their foreign funder.”
Bloomberg said in its article that Orban increased his support in this year’s election campaign by targeting Muslim immigrants, whom he called “invaders”. It noted that Hungary has erected a fence on its southern border with a view to protecting “Christian Europe”.
Kovacs said in response to this that when 400,000 migrants entered Hungary illegally in 2015 “in flagrant disregard for all international rules”, it had felt like an “invasion”. He said the government had never “forced asylum-seekers into detention camps”, but rather built processing centres where they could wait until their asylum requests were ruled on. The government spokesman said that by having built the border fence, Hungary was also protecting Europe’s border.