(JTA) – Israel’s ambassador to Hungary called for Budapest to ends it billboard campaign against George Soros, which local Jewish leaders have said is promoting anti-Semitism.
“It’s our moral responsibility to raise a voice and call on the relevant authorities to exert their power and put an end to this cycle,” Yossi Amrani said Saturday in a statement.
“I call on those involved in the current billboard campaign and those responsible for it to reconsider the consequences. At the moment, beyond political criticism of a certain person, the campaign not only evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear.”
Billboards posted nationwide showing a grinning Soros, an American Jewish billionaire who was born in Hungary, and the words, “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh.” The government objects to Soros’ call for Hungary to allow migrants to enter the country. Many of the billboards have been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.
Hungary’s foreign ministry responded in a statement: “Just like Israel, Hungary too takes steps against anyone who represents a risk to the national security of the country and its citizens.”
Hungarian Jews have called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel an official visit to Hungary, scheduled for July 18, to protest remarks by Prime Minister Viktor Orban in praise of Hungary’s World War II-era anti-Semitic leader, Miklós Horthy, and the campaign against Soros.
Late last month, Orban included Horthy, a Hitler ally, among those he called “exceptional statesmen” for leading Hungary following the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Horthy signed anti-Jewish laws in 1938 and 1939, as well as in 1920.
Orban’s chief of staff, János Lázár, told journalists Thursday, after Jewish leaders called for a halt to the billboard campaign: “The Hungarian government’s goal is to stop Soros’ migrant campaign, which is supporting the migration of illegal migrants into our country. The government is not criticizing George Soros for his Jewish origin, but for his supporting the growing number of migrants entering in uncontrolled crowds into Europe.”
Lazar added that Hungarian Jews “should not be afraid because they can count on the Hungarian government, which always will defend them.”