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© Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Soros accuses Budapest of anti-Semitism


American-Hungarian investor and philanthropist George Soros has accused the Hungarian government of using “anti-Semitic imagery” in a poster campaign.

Soros has been vilified in a campaign costing the right-wing Fidesz government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, an estimated 5.7bn forints (~€18.2m).

Soros said: “I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign.”

Hungarian Jews fear that latent anti-Semitism lies behind the campaign, which Budapest denies.

The most recent series of posters – many of which have had anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled on them – show a grinning Mr Soros beside the words, “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh”.

Since the 1980s Soros has spent approximately €10bn on civil initiatives to reduce poverty and increase transparency in governments and business.

Some of this money has also been invested in scholarships and universities in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics.

Orbán, a staunch anti-liberalist, has tried to force the Soros-funded Central European University out of Hungary, accusing it of underhanded political activities designed to defame his Fidesz ruling party.

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the EU’s liberal parties, said: “The Hungarian regime’s xenophobia and demonisation of refugees are anti-European. The claim that Soros is promoting a scheme to import a million illegal immigrants into Europe is Victor Orban’s fantasy. Darkness falls in Hungary. We cannot let this happen.”

Orbán’s spokesman, Zoltán Kovács, told UK daily newspaper the Guardian that the Brussels speech was a “declaration of political war on Hungary”. Soros-funded organisations, Kovács said, were engaged in “political activism camouflaged as NGO work”.

András Bencsik, a Fidesz member and editor of the right-wing monthly magazine Demokrata, described Soros as a “dangerous man”, suggesting that Soros may be conspiring to destroy the country.

The Hungarian Jewish community has spoken out against the campaign.

Pan European Networks Ltd