Top EU Official Attacks Hungarian PM Viktor Orban for ‘Dog-Whistle’ Antisemitism
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing from one of the European Union’s top officials over alleged “dog-whistle words” that encouraged antisemitism.
“Since Prime Minister Orbán is so vocal in saying that he wants to combat antisemitism, I would call upon him to avoid dog-whistle words, to avoid any form of campaigning that could be seen as implicitly antisemitic,” Frans Timmermans — the Dutch vice president of the European Commission — said in Brussels on Monday, in comments reported by the French newspaper Le Monde.
“If that is the impression he wants to avoid, then he should be, I think, clearer in how he operates, because clearly some of the campaigns he’s been doing have led to antisemitic responses in Hungarian society,” Timmermans continued.
While Timmermans did not specifically mention George Soros — the liberal Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist who has become Orban’s nemesis — his comments were an obvious reference to the Hungarian leader’s bitter attacks on the billionaire financier, whom he has described as “anti-Christian,” and who was the target of a nationwide billboard campaign, at a cost of 19 million euros, that accused him of funding the migration of thousands of Muslim refugees to Europe.
A large number of the posters — which showed a grinning Soros alongside the slogan, “Don’t Let Soros Have The Last Laugh” — were defaced with antisemitic graffiti such as “dirty Jew.” In June, Orban’s government passed legislation dubbed the “Stop Soros Law,” which made the provision of aid to undocumented migrants a criminal offense.
Timmerman’s attack on Orban came as the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) published a 12-country survey of Jewish responses the ongoing rise of antisemitism on the continent.
When it came to Hungary, 77 percent of the survey’s respondents said they thought that antisemitism was a “fairly big” or “very big” problem in the country — a clear majority, but still a notable decrease on the 89 percent of Hungarian Jews who answered similarly in 2012, the last time the survey was conducted.
The survey also revealed that approximately 44 percent of Hungary’s 100,000-strong Jewish community had considered emigrating over the past five years because of antisemitism, as compared with 65 percent of British Jews and 62 percent of Jews in the Netherlands.