Hungary’s main Jewish organisation has demanded the removal of government billboards targeting U.S. investor George Soros after they were defaced with antisemitic slander in several places.
The billboards, posted nationwide, show a smiling Soros next to the caption “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh.” Antisemitic slander written on the posters in Budapest and other cities “recall Hungary’s dark periods,” Andras Heisler, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, the country’s EJC affiliate, wrote in an open letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday.
“The billboard campaign, while not openly antisemitic, can still very much unleash uncontrolled antisemitism and other feelings,” Heisler said. “This poisonous message hurts all of Hungary.”
The government rejects that its attacks on Soros are enabling antisemitism, on which it has a “zero-tolerance policy,” Janos Lazar, the minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, told reporters in Budapest. He said Soros’s stance on immigration — and not Soros personally or his Jewish origin — is the target of the billboard campaign.
About 500,000 Hungarians, mostly Jews, were killed in the Holocaust. Hungary was allied with Germany’s Adolf Hitler in World War II. Orban last month hailed Miklos Horthy, the head of state from 1920 to 1944 who oversaw the passing of Europe’s first antisemitic law after World War I, as an “exceptional statesman.”
The Soros billboards are the latest attack on the financier in his native Hungary, where Orban has singled him out as a target for opposing his anti-immigration position and for supporting organisations, such as ones working for human rights and government transparency, that he said are out to undermine his power.