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In Hungary, George Soros is still a target

Budapest-born Mr Soros, a Holocaust survivor, has been cast in a government-backed campaign as an advocate of mass illegal immigration and an enemy of the Hungarian people.

    It was hard not to fly out of Budapest feeling slightly confused.

    Over the three days I spent there on a working visit last week, I listened intently as senior Hungarian government representatives attempted to convince me that Jewish people should count the ruling party, Fidesz, as their friend.

    The real concern, they insisted, should be over the far-right party Jobbik, which has lengthy form for brazen antisemitism, ahead of next year’s general election.

    The latest polls show Jobbik attracting around 20 per cent of the vote — a worryingly high figure.

    But their support is nowhere near large enough to challenge the 60 per cent who back Fidesz.

    Jobbik leaders have openly attacked Jews, gays and foreigners and argued that closer links with Russia and Iran, not the European Union, represent the best way forward.

    In such circumstances, Hungary’s largest political grouping is clearly correct to shine a light on the extremist tendencies of its closest electoral challenger.

    The Fidesz PR pitch to me was clearly to present Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party as defenders of western Judeo-Christian values.

    The future of Hungary’s 50,000 Jews would be protected and cherished under their watch, they said.

    But there’s a catch in the form of George Soros, the billionaire investor.

    Budapest-born Mr Soros, a Holocaust survivor, has been cast in a government-backed campaign as an advocate of mass illegal immigration and an enemy of the Hungarian people.

    Critics said the posters, some of which had antisemitic slogans daubed upon them, evoked lurid anti-Jewish imagery of the 1930s portraying Jews as political manipulators.

    Now, with the general election looming, Fidesz have just unveiled a new anti-Soros media blitz to be unleashed in seven different poster campaigns.

    “Yes, maybe he is a Jew, but we are criticising what he is doing and what he represents,” is how the official spokesperson for the Hungarian government justified the anti-Soros line to me.

    The real threat to Hungarian stability, and ultimately the safety of the country’s Jews, was from migration from Muslim countries in the Middle East, I was told, while those trying to flee war-torn nations like Syria were “rarely refugees” and were on pre-planned missions to bring their “separatist culture” into Hungary and in Europe.

    Amid this tide of populism, the Jews of Hungary would be fine, I was repeatedly told.

    For now, at least.

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