Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with Hungarian counterpart in Budapest, Hungary, July 18, 2017. Balazs Mohai/AP
By Barak Ravid
‘I made it clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the government will secure the Jewish minority and that we have zero tolerance to anti-Semitism,’ Orban says during Netanyahu’s visit
Hungary cooperated with the Nazis in World War II instead of protecting its Jewish community, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said following his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Budapest on Tuesday.
“We decided in World War II, instead of protecting the Jewish community, to cooperate with the Nazis. This will never happen again,” he said.
He added, “I made it clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the government will secure the Jewish minority and that we have zero tolerance to anti-Semitism.”
Netanyahu in turn said that “I discussed with Prime Minister Orban the concerns of the Jewish community and he assured me the government will protect the Jewish community.”
Netanyahu’s visit to Hungary, the first by an Israeli prime minister in over 30 years, was supposed to have been a festive occasion devoid of drama. But because of Orban’s campaign against Hungarian-born Jewish business magnate George Soros, Netanyahu’s visit has come to be regarded as a test of the right-wing Israeli government’s attitude toward the nationalist right-wing governments in Europe.
These governments do not often criticize the occupation or the settlements, but they try to rewrite the history of their countries during the Holocaust and implement nationalist and racist policies that can stir anti-Semitism.
On Wednesday evening, Netanyahu will meet with members of the Jewish community at Budapest’s Great Synagogue. Such an event, usually a routine part of a prime minister’s visit to a foreign country, has taken on much more significance in light of the recent events in Hungary. Last week, Andras Heisler, head of the Hungarian Jewish community, met with officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.