Netanyahu’s next big meeting is with a PM who praised an antisemite

Bibi is meeting Hungary’s Viktor Orban in nine days’ time


After this week’s historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu will be heading off for more high-level diplomatic engagements in nine days’ time.

Mr Netanyahu is due to meet Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, followed by a meeting with new French President Emmanuel Macron.

The meeting with Mr Orban, however, has already ruffled some feathers among the Hungarian Jewish community.

Two weeks ago, at a political convention in Hungary, Mr Orban praised his country’s wartime leader, Regent Miklos Horthy. He said: “The fact that history did not bury us after the First World War is due to some exceptional statesmen like Miklos Horthy.”

He added: “You can’t contradict this fact by mentioning Hungary’s unfortunate role in the Second World War”.

This was Mr Orban’s way of referring to the openly antisemitic Admiral Horthy’s support of Nazi Germany during the war.

Under Horthy, Hungary refused Germany’s demand it deport its Jews to concentration camps; the deportations began only after a different government took control in Budapest.

However, the Hungarian Jewish community has been blaming Mr Orban’s right-wing Fidesz government for “revising” the country’s history and obscuring the level of cooperation of Hungarian authorities in the deportations.

Mr Orban’s speech led to an outcry from the Jewish community. It also came at an awkward moment for Israel, as Mr Netanyahu is to visit Budapest on July 18 and to join Mr Orban in a joint summit with the leaders of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Israel’s ambassador in Budapest requested clarifications from the Hungarian government and, in his conversations with senior officials, was assured that Hungary has a “zero-tolerance” policy on antisemitism and that the government acknowledges that Regent Horthy failed to protect the Jews during the war.

Although the Hungarian spokesman did not clarify Mr Orban’s remarks, Israel has officially accepted what the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem referred to as “an important clarification of the recognition of Horthy’s crimes against the Jews of Hungary”.

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