Netanyahu Visegrad 4

Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld: Looking Back on Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest…….


As I have said in the past, and will continue to do so in the future: 

The EU policy of importing mass numbers of Jew hating Muslims into Europe, negates any open displays of regret and sorrow by these same politicians for the Holocaust of Jews during WWII at the hands of the Nazis. You can’t be for ‘Never Again’, while simultaneously promoting policies that allow for the importation of the very same mindset that led Europe to promise 70 years ago…”Never Again”.

NOTE: This article was first published at INN and republished here with the author’s consent.

Another reason why these countries are important not only for Israel but also for European Jewry is that they oppose immigration. The immigrants are to a large extent Muslims from the Middle East. Brussels and the leaders of European countries know well that most Muslim immigrants have been indoctrinated with extreme antisemitic propaganda from childhood. An advisor to the European court wants it to reject the challenge by Hungary and Slovakia against the EU European council decision that EU members must take in hundreds of asylum-seekers.18
Yet the EU leaders do not care. The decent thing would have been to vet Muslims immigrating into Europe so that these so-called liberal democracies would not have admitted antisemitic immigrants. As this is not the case, the policy of the Visegrad countries not to receive immigrants is preferable. In this way in future at least a few European countries where Muslim antisemitic hatemongers will not play a prominent role.

LOOKING BACK ON NETANYAHU’S VISIT TO BUDAPEST

The recent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Budapest – the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister since the fall of communism – received much international publicity. The media reported on both his meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and with the heads of the Visegrad group countries, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Yet in their reporting, many media outlets did not focus on the most important issues.

Orbán leads the right of center Fidesz party. He declared in a public statement after the meeting with Netanyahu that Hungary had sinned when it cooperated with Nazi Germany during the Second World War and that it had not protected its Jews.1 He also said that Hungary would protect all its citizens in the future.2 Yet, in the recent past Orbán praised the longtime Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy, a Hitler ally.3

Orbán’s declaration about his country’s Holocaust guilt was important politically both for himself and for his party. Such admission of Hungarian Holocaust guilt is not unprecedented. Several Hungarian prime ministers including Gyula Horn,4 Péter Medgyessy5 and Ferenc Gyurcsany6 have acknowledged their country’s war crimes or issued apologies.

In a 2013 study, 91% of Hungarian Jews stated that antisemitism had increased in the past five years, a higher percentage than in the seven other countries investigated. Ninety percent of Hungarian Jews saw antisemitism as a problem in their country.7 Antisemitism has not abated since. The extreme right and antisemitic Jobbik party received 20% of the votes in the 2014 elections.8 Its leader, Gabor Vona, is now trying to move the party somewhat toward the center to become a serious competitor for Fidesz prior to the next election which will take place in 2018.9

Countries do not change their culture easily. Hungary has a long history of antisemitism which dates back many years well before its collaboration with the Germans during the Holocaust.10 The postwar communist regimes suppressed antisemitism. However after their fall in 1989, it soon reared its head again. Yet while there is extreme verbal antisemitism, for the most part it has not become violent.11 That may change though. Like in most European countries, Jews living in Hungary have to realize that antisemitism is an integral part of European culture. Its intensity varies from country to country. While antisemitism has to be fought, it is far too embedded to be eliminated.

The Hungarian government’s poster campaign against American billionaire George Soros has drawn much attention. He promotes the settlement of Middle Eastern refugees in Hungary and other European countries. Soros’ policy is seen as hostile by the Hungarian government.12 The government campaign was also exploited by antisemites who drew graffiti on billboards. As a result, Hungarian Jews were worried about antisemitism surrounding the campaign.

Some Jews asked Netanyahu to cancel his visit. An Israeli Prime Minister meets many leaders without this indicating that he is in agreement with all of their policies. For instance, Netanyahu visited the Netherlands. This does not mean that he agrees with the current government’s continuous refusal to admit their predecessors’ major failures toward Jews during the Second World War. Nor does Netanyahu have to approve the massive unvetted immigration there of people from Muslim countries in which antisemitism is rife. This immigration is the greatest threat to Dutch Jews and Israel in that country since the Holocaust.

This is not the only worrying aspect of the Dutch reality concerning Israel. A 2011 study by the University of Bielefeld, found that almost 39% of the Dutch were in agreement with the statement: “Israel conducts a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” The figure for Hungary was barely different: 41%.13 And as far as antisemitism is concerned: Its European capital is not in illiberal Hungary, but is Malmö, the third-largest city in ultraliberal Sweden.

The Israeli ambassador to Hungary came out against the antisemitism. The Israeli foreign office explained the Israeli position in a statement that it meant “in no way to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny its right to defend itself.”14

Concerning the meeting with the leaders of the Visegrad countries, the main media attention was focused on the scathing remarks Netanyahu made about Europe without realizing that a microphone was open. Part of his remarks were substantially correct even if he would have phrased them differently had he realized that his statements were no longer private.15

The level of antisemitism in the Visegrad countries differs. In 2014, an ADL study asked 11 basic questions concerning classic antisemitic attitudes in a number of countries. It found that 45% of Poles harbor antisemitic attitudes. In Hungary the figure is 41%, and in the Czech Republic 13%. No data is available for Slovakia. When asked if Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust, 62% of Poles responded yes, with 61% of Hungarians agreeing. 44% of Czech citizens answered affirmatively to the same question.16

In 2004, I interviewed Mark Sofer, then Deputy Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. At that time the Visegrad countries and several others had just joined the EU. He said: “Conventional wisdom tells us that the accession of these countries to the EU is positive for Israel. For once, conventional wisdom may well be correct.”17 He has indeed been proven correct. These and other central European countries often support Israel in a frequently political hostile EU. They are also important for Israeli investors.

Another reason why these countries are important not only for Israel but also for European Jewry is that they oppose immigration. The immigrants are to a large extent Muslims from the Middle East. Brussels and the leaders of European countries know well that most Muslim immigrants have been indoctrinated with extreme antisemitic propaganda from childhood. An advisor to the European court wants it to reject the challenge by Hungary and Slovakia against the EU European council decision that EU members must take in hundreds of asylum-seekers.18

Yet the EU leaders do not care. The decent thing would have been to vet Muslims immigrating into Europe so that these so-called liberal democracies would not have admitted antisemitic immigrants. As this is not the case, the policy of the Visegrad countries not to receive immigrants is preferable. In this way in future at least a few European countries where Muslim antisemitic hatemongers will not play a prominent role.

Footnotes:

1 www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Hungarian-PM-to-Netanyahu-We-have-zero-tolerance-of-antisemitism-500042

3 www.timesofisrael.com/israel-accepts-hungarys-clarification-over-pms-praise-for-nazi-allied-wwii-leader/

4 Efraim Zuroff, “Eastern Europe: Anti-Semitism in the Wake of Holocaust-Related Issues,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 17, Nos. 1–2 (Spring 2005): 63–79.

5 Yifat Bacharach, “Hungary Pledges to Search for Names of Holocaust victims,” Yad Vashem Magazine, 34, 2004.

6

 www.dw.com/en/march-of-living-marks-holocaust/a-1575086

8 www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/concerns-as-neo-nazi-jobbik-party-wins-20-of-hungary-vote-9244541.html

9 www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37976687

10 http://jcpa.org/article/anti-semitism-in-hungary/

11 www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37976687

12 www.jta.org/2017/07/09/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/israel-not-defending-soros-in-denouncing-campaign-against-him-foreign-ministry-clarifies

15 www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/19/eu-will-wither-and-die-if-it-does-not-change-policy-on-israel-netanyahu

18 www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-07-26/eu-court-advised-to-reject-hungary-slovakia-refugee-case

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