Peculiar Case of Viktor Orban’s Visit to Indonesia

Interesting take:

“We don’t see these people as Muslim refugees. We consider them Muslim invaders,” Viktor Orban, Hungarian Prime Minister.

If the aforementioned interview quote from Bild was well-known among Indonesians and wide-spread among bapak-bapak‘s Whatsapp groups, Viktor Orban would have been welcomed differently in his latest three days visit to Indonesia.

The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been in Indonesia conducting his diplomatic tour in Asia, including his visit to Jakarta and Yogyakarta. This is not his first time landing on Indonesia’s soil as previously he was welcomed by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in 2016.

His latest visit to Indonesia is officially stated to strengthen 65 years standing bilateral ties between the two countries, especially by deepening cooperation on economic, infrastructure, trade, health, and people-to-people contact. Orban also attended CDI (Centrist Democrat International), an international centrist and Christian democratic party alliance, Executive Meeting hosted by Muhaimin Iskandar’s National Awakening Party (PKB) in Yogyakarta.

Orban himself is the Vice-President of CDI. Jokowi looked happy with his Hungarian counterpart’s visit as Orban pledged attractive investment and diplomatic commitments. Muhaimin Iskandar also seemed to be pretty much enjoying Orban’s visit, judging from his multiple Instagram stories.

It appeared that nobody really cares about Victor Orban’s erratic political footprints, especially on contentious issues such as multiculturalism, refugees, and Islam. Orban is widely known as the beacon of European populism, a poster boy of the rise of right-wing movements in the West as he staunchly criticizes the European Union’s Immigration policies, refuses refugees, and denounces multiculturalism.

Fidesz, his political party, is associated with anti-Islam and anti-Semitism narratives in Hungary and Central Europe. He repeatedly mentions the danger of multiculturalism and liberalism to Hungarian Culture by referring to the “Muslim refugees invasion” in “mass scale” as an example.

Given his political stance and discourse, it is intriguing to observe how Orban, the proponent of so-called “Christian and Illiberal Democracy”, engages in closer diplomatic partnership with the biggest Muslim nation in the world.

This is not to mention his partnership with PKB, the biggest Islamic party in Indonesia, under the CDI platform. Lest we forget that PKB is strongly popular with its multiculturalism and pluralism notions inherited by Abdurrahman Wahid’s thoughts.

Indeed, strategic and material considerations play profound roles as the main driver of Orban’s intention visiting Indonesia. In 2011, he launched Opening to the East Policy to diversify Hungarian economic ties by paying more attention to Russia and Asian countries.

Although it has been navigated since nine years ago, this ambitious foreign policy direction has not managed to be meaningful as Orban has not fully utilized Hungarian engagement to Asian countries. Visiting Indonesia, then, would be pivotal to spur Hungary’s footing in Southeast Asia.

Under his administration, the central European country has been enjoying the relatively enviable economic performance with an average 4.5 percent gross domestic product growth in the last three years, surpassing most of its neighbors in Europe.

Hungarian industries, infrastructure developments and services have been quite vibrant. It massively provides opportunities for Indonesia to be a strategic partner in trade and investment. Hungary also has advanced and sophisticated water management shown in Budapest and across the Danube river — an important know-how for future Indonesia’s new Capital city plan.

This is aligned with Jokowi’s vision to attract more foreign investment to Indonesia.

Getting closer to Hungary also means that Indonesia might open a new perspective export market to central and eastern Europe. Those regions are not only posed as alternative markets needed for Indonesian economic diplomacy. They also are increasingly pivotal in the geopolitical landscape in Europe.

However, Orban’s negative discourse on Islam and multiculturalism should not be left unnoticed. Orban’s negative discourse has, directly and indirectly, inspired Islamophobic notions in Europe.

Hence, Jokowi must not only take merely on Hungary’s economic and political variables into his account. These increasingly closer ties with Hungary should be used as a means to overcome xenophobia and anti-Islamic sentiment rooted in Hungary and Orban’s mind. Jokowi must follow up on Orban’s diplomatic commitment with efforts to promote interfaith understanding.

Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall offer people-to-people diplomacy emphasizing multiculturalism, pluralism, and interfaith dialogues embedded in bilateral economic and political cooperation with Hungary.

The exchange of political and religious leaders is desperately needed to gradually foster a better understanding of Islam and multiculturalism in Hungary. This must be followed by Indonesian Fidesz counterpart, PKB to delve into deeper communication with Hungary.

PKB should have more moral responsibility and be the first loudest voice to speak up against anti-pluralism and Islamophobic to Fidesz through direct contact or using the CDI platform. It is not enough to take Instagram stories and only be a nice host for CDI’s event.

PKB can elevate its level and quality by being the biggest proponent against Islamophobia and anti-multiculturalism, not only in Indonesia but also in the heart of anti-Islamic sentiment. Indonesia rightfully has the legitimacy and credibility to communicate that democracy, pluralism, and religious values are possible to harmonize.

These values are not counter-intuitive with each other as believed by Orban and his party. These, in fact, are proven to be the source of a nation’s strength as demonstrated by Indonesia and it should be demonstrated to Hungary.

Because bilateral cooperation built upon solely on material benefits would not last sustainably, diplomacy must be developed perpetually upon constructive values. There must be efforts to ensure both countries embarking on the right side of history against hatred and xenophobia.

Both Indonesia and Hungary can work together on these constructive values while enjoying better economic cooperation, for the good of both regions, for the welfare of both nations, in the present and the future.

Source: Peculiar Case of Viktor Orban’s Visit to Indonesia

Viktor Orbán trumpets Hungary’s ‘procreation, not immigration’ policy

Sigh. Not one or the other. Policies to assist families with the costs of having and raising children by themselves will not fully address demographic pressures:

Procreate or face extinction: that’s the message from central European leaders to their shrinking populations, as across the region rightwing governments implement so-called “family first” policies to incentivise childbearing.

Hungary’s government is holding an international summit on demography in Budapest this week, being attended by several regional leaders and delegations from dozens of countries in an attempt to trumpet their investment in family policies.

The country’s nativist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, said it was conceivable that Hungary, with a population of just under 10 million that is shrinking due to low birthrates and emigration of Hungarians to EU states further west, could simply disappear.

“It’s not hard to imagine that there would be one single last man who has to turn the lights out,” he said at the opening of the conference on Thursday.

Orbán, who has based his political campaigns in recent years on anti-refugee and anti-migration sentiment, said other European politicians saw immigration as the solution, but he firmly rejected this, tapping into the far-right “great replacement” theory.

“If Europe is not going to be populated by Europeans in the future and we take this as given, then we are speaking about an exchange of populations, to replace the population of Europeans with others,” said Orbán. “There are political forces in Europe who want a replacement of population for ideological or other reasons.”

Orbán’s words were backed up by one of the guests of honour at the summit, the former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, who saluted the Hungarian leader for having “the political courage to defy political correctness”.

Abbott said dying populations, not climate change, were the biggest threat to western civilisation, and lashed out at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for recent remarks that they would not have more than two children due to the effects on the environment. “Having fewer children in western countries will hardly make the climate better when so many children are being born elsewhere,” said Abbott.

A fear of rising populations in other parts of the world was the dominant theme during the opening morning of the Budapest summit, despite the presence of delegations from many developing countries. The tone was set by an artistic performance that opened the forum, portraying hordes of people from the south and east advancing on Europe.

“Europe has become the continent of the empty crib whereas in Asia and Africa they face demographic challenges of the opposite type,” said Katalin Novák, Hungary’s minister of state for family, youth and international affairs.

The two-day summit was also attended by Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, and Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vučić, who both said boosting birthrates was a priority for the long-term development of their countries. Vučić said his country was losing the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized town each year. “Serbian people have one expression for negative population growth: the white flag,” he said.

Source: Viktor Orbán trumpets Hungary’s ‘procreation, not immigration’ policy

La droite européenne suspend le parti de Viktor Orbán

Overdue:

La droite européenne a décidé mercredi de suspendre le parti du dirigeant populiste hongrois Viktor Orbán de ses rangs, pour une durée indéterminée, à la suite de ses dérapages contre Bruxelles ou l’immigration, deux mois avant le renouvellement du Parlement de Strasbourg.

Le Parti populaire européen (PPE), qui réunit les formations de droite et du centre-droit de l’UE, comme la CDU de la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel ou les Républicains en France, a pris cette décision à une écrasante majorité (190 pour, 3 contre), lors d’une assemblée politique du parti à Bruxelles.

Concrètement, cette suspension signifie que le Fidesz n’aura — jusqu’à nouvel ordre — plus le droit de participer aux réunions du PPE, sera privé de ses droits de vote et ne pourra pas présenter de candidats à des postes, a précisé le président du PPE, le Français Joseph Daul, dans un tweet.

« La présidence du PPE et le Fidesz ont convenu d’un commun accord la suspension du Fidesz jusqu’à la publication d’un rapport par un comité d’évaluation [de ce parti] », selon le texte de compromis adopté.

Aucune durée de suspension n’est mentionnée dans le compromis. Selon l’eurodéputé français Franck Proust qui participait au vote, « une décision sera prise à la remise du rapport des experts, à l’automne ». Ce comité indépendant d’évaluation doit notamment être présidé par Herman Van Rompuy, ancien premier ministre belge et ancien président du Conseil européen.

Avant la réunion, la tension était montée d’un cran. Le gouvernement hongrois avait averti qu’en cas de suspension, le Fidesz « quitterait immédiatement le PPE ».

Mais un compromis a finalement été trouvé, avec la précision que cette suspension avait lieu « d’un commun accord », selon plusieurs sources.

Dans un entretien mercredi à la radio allemande Deutschlandfunk, le président de la Commission européenne Jean-Claude Juncker avait réclamé une fois de plus une exclusion du Fidesz.

« Sa place est hors du PPE », avait affirmé M. Juncker, membre de ce parti mais qui ne participait pas à cette réunion, affirmant que « depuis des années », le Fidesz « s’éloignait des valeurs démocrates-chrétiennes ».

Certains craignaient qu’exclure l’enfant terrible du PPE, une première dans l’histoire de cette formation, la plus importante du Parlement européen, n’ouvre la voie à une scission entre l’Est et l’Ouest du continent.

Risque d’une alliance avec Salvini

Ils s’inquiétaient également de le voir se jeter dans les bras du vice-premier ministre italien et ministre de l’Intérieur, Matteo Salvini, le chef de la Ligue, parti d’extrême droite.

Cela fait des mois que la droite conservatrice se divise sur le cas Orbán.

Mais, en lançant une campagne d’affichage le 19 février contre M. Juncker, le premier ministre national-conservateur hongrois avait dépassé les bornes pour ses détracteurs.

Sous le slogan : « Vous avez aussi le droit de savoir ce que Bruxelles prépare », ces affiches montraient Juncker, ricanant aux côtés du milliardaire américain juif d’origine hongroise, George Soros, et l’accusaient de soutenir l’immigration sur le Vieux continent.

Furieux, treize partis membres du PPE originaires de dix pays différents, réunis autour d’un noyau dur constitué par les pays du Benelux et de la Scandinavie, avaient réclamé début mars « l’exclusion ou la suspension » du Fidesz.

Le chef de file pour les élections européennes du PPE, Manfred Weber, avait également accentué la pression la semaine dernière à Budapest sur Viktor Orbán, devenu une source d’embarras croissant pour l’Allemand qui brigue la succession de M. Juncker.

Le Bavarois avait posé trois conditions pour le maintien du dialogue : l’arrêt de la campagne anti-Bruxelles, des excuses auprès des autres partis membres du PPE et le maintien à Budapest de l’Université d’Europe centrale (CEU) fondée en 1991 par Georges Soros.

Depuis, Viktor Orbán, 55 ans, avait fait retirer les affiches controversées. Il avait présenté ses excuses au PPE, même si elles avaient été jugées insuffisantes.

Mais concernant l’Université d’Europe centrale, sa bête noire, M. Orbán n’avait pas bougé. Cet établissement de droit américain, s’estimant chassé par le premier ministre nationaliste, va déménager l’essentiel de ses activités à Vienne

Source: La droite européenne suspend le parti de Viktor Orbán

Hungary gives tax breaks to boost population, stop immigration

Will be interesting to see if this tax incentive results in a significant shift or not, or is this just more “virtue signalling” to his populist base:

Hungary’s anti-immigration prime minister announced on Sunday that the government would offer financial aid and subsidies for families to boost the birth rate.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in his annual State of the Nation speech that the policy was “Hungary’s answer” to population decline, “not immigration.”

“There are fewer and fewer children born in Europe. For the West, the answer (to that challenge) is immigration. For every missing child there should be one coming in and then the numbers will be fine,” he said.

“But we do not need numbers. We need Hungarian children,” he added.

In 2016, Hungary’s birth rate was 1.45 births per women, below the 2.1 replacement rate.

Loans, subsidies, no income tax

The seven-point program includes a loan of 10 million Forint (€31,352/$35,540) to women under 40 who marry for the first time. A third of the loan would be waived after a second child and the entire sum waived after a third child.

Another plank of the program would absolve any woman who has four or more children from paying income tax for life.

The new measures would also provide housing subsidies to families depending on the number of children they have and state support for the purchase of any seven-seat vehicle.

Orban slams EU

Orban also took aim at the European Union ahead of European Parliament elections in May and his nemesis, Hungarian-born American billionaire George Soros.

Read more: EU Parliament votes to trigger Article 7 sanctions procedure against Hungary 

“Brussels is the stronghold of new internationalism, its tool is migration,” he said.

Source: Hungary gives tax breaks to boost population, stop immigration

Netanyahu’s Negotiating With Neo-Fascists for a ‘Consensus View’ of the Holocaust

Seeing more commentary like this:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has chosen an improbable way of celebrating the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding: He’s palling around with neo-fascists and coddling Holocaust revisionists.

The year 2018 has seen Netanyahu embracing a parade of such leaders and, in a no less perplexing twist, we’ve had the Jewish state blatantly dismissing the needs of Diaspora Jews as they face mounting antisemitism and insecurity in Western countries roiled by social unrest.

Consider the past week.

On Thursday, Netanyahu acknowledged that he is negotiating with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for an acceptable “consensus narrative” in which the Hungarian state’s part in the Nazi crimes that wiped out half a million Hungarian Jews during World War II will be minimized, if not erased, in a new revisionist Holocaust museum to be opened in Budapest.

On Tuesday Netanyahu was welcoming Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new, nationalist interior minister to Jerusalem.

Salvini, you guessed it, is a close European ally of Orbán. He acceded to his post last summer and has become Western Europe’s de facto leader of the populist anti-immigration movement since.

Italian Jews are not thrilled by the visit. A statement written by philosopher and painter Stefano Levi Della Torre and circulated among Italian Jewish communities says it is “alarming that Netanyahu is about to provide Salvini with a pro-Israel license [that would] exonerate him from the suspicions of anti-Semitism while he carries on with his xenophobic, racist campaign and with his alliances with anti-Semitic forces in Italy and Europe.”

A few hours ahead of his arrival, an irritated Salvini told Israel’s Foreign Press Association that “the growing anti-Semitism goes together with Islamic extremism, to which no one is paying attention.” Thus letting old-fashioned European fascist anti-Semitism off the hook. Salvini added, “I don’t have to justify myself every time I go to Israel.”

Protests were planned for Salvini’s visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, and Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, who opposes Netanyahu’s cozy rapport with neo-fascists, announced he would not be receiving Salvini.

If you scratch beneath the surface of Netanyahu’s new friendships, the picture becomes clear: Like Britain’s UKIP and possibly like U.S. President Donald Trump, Netanyahu hopes to destabilize what has come to be known as “the international order.”

One way he is trying to do this is by encouraging European nations to break EU ranks and move their embassies to Jerusalem, as Trump has. Last month, Netanyahu welcomed Czech President Milos Zeman to Israel and accompanied him as Zeman opened a “Czech House” in the Israeli capital.

Jerusalem is burbling with rumors that Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who visited Israel in October and hopes to defeat Israel’s boycott of his Freedom Party ministers who represent a onetime neo-Nazi movement, may move his embassy to Jerusalem.

In September, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte was embraced by Netanyahu, even though he is a self-professed fan of Adolf Hitler who said he’d “be happy” to emulate Hitler by exterminating 3 million drug users and vendors.

Netanyahu recently announced his plans to attend the inauguration of Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, another figure on the nationalist far right who is dangling the possibility of moving his embassy to Jerusalem as an enticement for Netanyahu.

President Rivlin, who has become more vocal on the subject, told CNN last weekthat “you can’t say we admire the State of Israel and want ties with it, but we’re neo-fascists.”

In July it was Orbán’s turn for a whirl around Jerusalem, and that is when they may have discussed plans for the House of Fates, an institution intended to instill in the public a revisionist interpretation of Holocaust history, a “consensus narrative” in which the murder of more than half a million Hungarian Jews, enabled by the Nazi-allied government of Miklós Horthy, will be reconfigured.

The Israeli foreign ministry holds that any new Holocaust museum should stick to the historical record “as it is depicted in Yad Vashem and in Washington’s Holocaust Museum,” but was overruled by Netanyahu, who is also Israel’s foreign minister, and its representatives were shut out of talks between Orbán and Netanyahu officials last week in Jerusalem.

Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, and the son of a Holocaust survivor, described Netanyahu’s action as “appalling.”

Netanyahu’s agreement “to Hungary’s attempt to eliminate its part in the Holocaust is appalling,” he tweeted. “The Hungarians were deeply involved in the destruction of Hungarian Jewry as part of the murder machine. The only response to Orbán’s is that the museum should reflect the truth and nothing else. No negotiations, no consensus, just truth.”

Orbán has appointed Maria Schmidt, an historian and the leader of a movement to rewrite the Holocaust, to lead the House of Fates. Schmidt first made her name whitewashing history as the founder of Budapest’s House of Terror, a pseudo-museum advancing the theory that the suffering of eastern European nations who fell into the Soviet sphere of influence after WWII was worse than the suffering inflicted by the Nazi régime in Germany.

Schmidt, one of Orbán’s closest associates, was most recently associated with an overt act of political antisemitism Orbán has refused to condemn: last week’s cover of Figyelő, the “conservative Christian” business magazine owned by Schmidt, showed the face of Hungarian Jewish community president András Heisler surrounded by banknotes.

An Orbán spokesperson told World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder that any comment would “be contrary to freedom of the press.”

The Netanyahu high-wire act on Holocaust revisionism has reached an apex just as the European Union is grappling with a frightening upswing in European antisemitism.

On Thursday, rejecting several points Netanyahu had advanced, the EU adopted a new working definition of antisemitism.

Some EU states fear that the definition issued by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) that has been adopted by over 20 countries and that Israel pushed for, could stifle criticism of Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The IHRA states that some criticism of Israel can be considered anti-Semitic, including “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor, or by applying double standards to Israel not imposed upon other nations.”

The EU chose to use the IHRA definition merely as a “guidance tool.”

A second EU survey published Monday reported that an astonishing nine out of 10 European Jews believe anti-Semitism has worsened in their countries over the past five years and more than one third are considering emigration.

The report prepared by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) was based on a poll of 16,000 respondents in 12 member states.

Almost 30 percent of the respondents said they had experienced some form of anti-Semitic harassment in the past year, and 2 percent reported having been physically attacked, with a further 2 percent saying their property had been deliberately vandalized in the past year because they were Jewish.

In October, following the deadly attack against the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Netanyahu biographer Anshel Pfeffer said that whereas “Netanyahu wants the right to speak as the representative of all Jews, in America and Europe he’s abandoned all pretense of solidarity with them.”

In 2015, upon returning to Israel from a memorial ceremony for French Jews murdered in a terror attack, Netanyahu said, “I went to Paris not just as the prime minister of Israel but as a representative of the entire Jewish people.”

In fact, Pfeffer notes, “the elected leader of a country in which less than half the Jews of the world live (and only a quarter of them actually voted for him in the last election) wants the right to address the world as the representative of all Jews. And he won’t even check with them first.”

Source: Netanyahu’s Negotiating With Neo-Fascists for a ‘Consensus View’ of the Holocaust

Hungarian PM Accused George Soros of Fueling Anti-Semitism, MTI Reports – Bloomberg

Might be time for former PM Harper to reconsider his congratulatory message in his capacity as head of the International Democrat Union (IDU):

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban accused George Soros, the Jewish billionaire philanthropist who survived Nazi persecution, of fomenting anti-Semitism by helping immigrants come to Europe, MTI state news service reported.

Soros and his Open Society Foundations, which funds dozens of NGOs in Hungary, “bear responsibility for the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe,” Orban said in a letter to Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, MTI reported Friday. Soros, 87, who eventually emigrated to the U.S. after World War II, said last year that Orban used Nazi-era propaganda methods to try to discredit him in a national billboard campaign.

Orban has built a border fence to keep immigrants out in a vow to protect Hungary from people he’s called “Muslim invaders.” In the letter, he said immigrants to Europe included those whose “political and religious views markedly increased the sense of insecurity in Jewish communities.”

Orban won a fourth term as prime minister last month and has become a ringleader for anti-immigrant populist forces in Europe. Open Society Foundations said this week that it was moving its staff from Budapest to Berlin, citing a government crackdown on NGOs.

via Hungarian PM Accused George Soros of Fueling Anti-Semitism, MTI Reports – Bloomberg

Evil Soros; Invisible Finkelstein-Orban’s Anti-Semitism – The Forward

Good long read on the complex relationships between Orban, Soros and Finkelstein:

At the time, conservatives and liberals from across the spectrum hailed Soros’s work.

In the difficult years of post-communist transition, Soros’s foundations provided humanitarian assistance in the form of school breakfasts and hospital equipment. Today, his foundations still provide some funding to nongovernmental organizations in Central and Eastern Europe — in particular in the human rights field. CEU, in the heart of Budapest, was designed as an English-language magnet school for Central and Eastern Europe’s best and brightest, and has become world-renowned.

 Soros, Konrád observed in his open letter to the prime minister, “devoted a considerable part of his fortune to young students’ needs, allowing the state to direct its resources elsewhere. He established a number of outstanding institutions in Hungary, even though in 1944 this land dealt with him so callously that it nearly cost him his life.”

Yet despite Orbán’s bristling against Soros as a foreign influence, his Fidesz party has been working for nearly a decade with Finkelstein, a New York-born secular Jew who is not afraid of embracing the very stereotype that Orbán deploys against Soros. Asked by Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley early on in their friendship whether he pronounced his last name as “Finkelsteen” or “Finkelstine” (with a long ‘i’), the consultant replied, “If I was a poor Jew, it would be Finkelsteen, but since I am a rich Jew, it’s Finkelstine.”

Finkelstein, moreover, is a gay rich Jew, long married to a male partner. Nevertheless, the self-professed libertarian, who first imbibed his ideology as a Columbia University student directly from libertarian icon Ayn Rand, has been critical to putting in office as prime minister a man with the declared goal of converting Hungary from a liberal democracy into a more authoritarian, government-heavy “illiberal state,” one with restricted rights for gay men and lesbians. In 2014, Orbán praised Russia, Turkey and China as “successful nations…none of which is liberal and some of which aren’t even democracies.”

“I don’t think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations,” he said.

Over the decades, Finkelstein, who worked early on for Richard Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign, has rarely let his ideology interfere with his choice of clients, as long as those clients were on the right. Some estimate that at one point in the 1980s, half of Republican U.S. senators were Finkelstein clients. But over the past two decades, Finkelstein’s focus shifted abroad, where he did his most high-profile work for Israel’s Netanyahu.

GEB International, a consultancy under the leadership of Finkelstein and fellow strategist George E. Birnbaum, has taken credit for the election of Ariel Sharon and the success of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party in 2009. Finkelstein also reportedly orchestrated the 2012 alliance between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu.

Through GEB International, Finkelstein has been providing consulting services to Fidesz since 2008, helping shape the party’s strategy in both local and national elections, including its control of a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Finkelstein’s successes — in the United States, Israel and Central Europe — can be attributed in large part to his approach to political communication.

“He likes campaigns that have signature issues, where the candidate would be known for one issue or a series of related issues,” Shirley said.

This approach has been evident in Orbán’s campaigns, which often focus on one simple message repeated over and over again — as has been the case with the prime minister’s repeated attacks on Soros.

…Orbán’s relationship with Hungary’s Jewish community, estimated at roughly 120,000 people in a country of 10 million, is complex. According to a recent survey, about 37% of Hungarians hold anti-Semitic views, telling pollsters that they “agree” or “completely agree” that “there’s too much Jewish influence in Hungary.” This was an increase from previous years: In 2013, only 27% gave positive replies to this question.

Growing up outside Budapest, Orbán likely had little exposure to Jews, who reside primarily in Budapest, before he moved to the capital to attend university. When he initially began his political career as a young, liberal anti-Communist in the late 1980s, however, he befriended Jewish Hungarian intellectuals and dissidents. Unusual for a Hungarian not of Jewish origin, Orbán’s eldest daughter, born in 1989, was given the Hebrew name Ráhel.

But very few Hungarian Jews supported Orbán’s nascent political party, and as Orbán began moving more and more to the right and adopting a nationalist stance, he alienated much of the Jewish community.

“During the [2013] World Jewish Congress in Budapest… Orbán spoke about ‘us’ the Hungarians and the ‘Jews,’” Pfeifer recalled. In the United States, he pointed out, it would be unimaginable for a sitting president to refer to “Americans” and “Jews” as separate groups.

For many Hungarian Jews, Orbán crossed a red line in 2014, when his government constructed a memorial to the “victims of German occupation” that many, including the U.S. State Department, saw as rejecting Hungary’s own complicity in the Holocaust. The Jewish community has since set up a permanent informal memorial to the victims of the Holocaust as a protest against what it sees as the government’s distortion of history.

But Orbán’s rhetoric on Soros over the past months has raised new concerns about government-sponsored anti-Semitism.

Konrád told Orbán in his open letter, “The real turning point for me was that, in the interest of the arbitrary extension of your power, you dipped into the hypocritical repository of political anti-Semitism and pulled out its shrill slogans with both hands.”

Not everyone shares this view.

“Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s policies aren’t anti-Semitic at all,” the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, known as MAZSIHISZ, said in a statement to the Forward. “His government supports the large Jewish organizations in achieving their goals, the Jewish community is not a victim of any kind of official discrimination, and there’s no real chance that it will change in the foreseeable future.”

Similarly, Slomó Köves, executive rabbi of EMIH Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, an affiliate of Chabad, told Hungarian state media May 12 that he “does not know of an internationally accepted norm” by which anti-Soros rhetoric is considered anti-Semitism.

Both Köves’s Chabad operation in Hungary and MAZSIHISZ receive significant funding from the government. Köves did not respond to emailed questions from the Forward.

Source: Evil Soros; Invisible Finkelstein-Orban’s Anti-Semitism – The Forward

Multiculturalism doesn’t work in Hungary, says Orban

More from Hungarian Prime Minister Orban. Never knew coexistence was a bad thing:

“Multiculturalism means the coexistence of Islam, Asian religions and Christianity. We will do everything to spare Hungary from that,” he said in an interview with daily Napi Gazdasag.

“We welcome non-Christian investors, artists, scientists, but we don’t want to mix on a mass scale.”

Orban, whose governing Fidesz party is losing ground in the polls to the far-right, anti-immigrant Jobbik party, has clashed with European counterparts over his isolationist views.

At the European Parliament in mid-May, he criticized as “bordering on insanity” EU proposals for migrant quotas drafted in response to thousands of deaths among asylum-seekers trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean in increasing numbers.

On Wednesday he called Jobbik dangerous for Hungary “because they offer a constant temptation, an intellectual capitulation to the simplest solutions”, saying his government would strike a conciliatory tone towards voters.

Multiculturalism doesn’t work in Hungary, says Orban – Yahoo News.