Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban moved to reassure Jews on Thursday that they could feel secure living under his right-wing nationalist government.
Appearing in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Orban said Hungary has “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism under his watch.
“All of the Jewish citizens in Hungary are under the protection of the government,” Orban told reporters, according to Reuters.
Orban was in Israel to pay a reciprocal visit to Netanyahu about a year after the Israeli leader traveled to Budapest on his own goodwill mission. The two conservative, nationalist prime ministers have developed a close relationship, despite concerns in Hungary that Orban’s government harbors anti-Semitic sympathies.
Orban stirred up controversy in Hungary’s Jewish community in 2017 when he praised the country’s interwar leader Miklos Horthy, an ally of Adolf Hitler. He was also accused of anti-Semitic demagoguery for using George Soros, the Jewish billionaire financier, as the foil for his crackdown on illegal immigration. (RELATED: Government Officials Drive The George Soros Foundation Out Of Hungary)
Netanyahu dismissed those concerns at Thursday’s meeting, calling his Hungarian counterpart “a true friend of Israel.” Both leaders pointed to their fight against a mutual enemy, radical Islamic terrorism.
“A Hungarian patriot and a Jewish Israeli patriot will always find something in common,” Orban said, according to Reuters.
Under Orban’s leadership, Hungary has been at the vanguard of the rising populist-nationalist phenomenon that has swept across Europe in recent years. The movement was spurred in part by the 2015 refugee crisis, during which the European Union’s migration rules were suspended to allow for the resettlement of more than a million asylum seekers and economic migrants from the greater Middle East.
Hungary was the first EU country to crack down on the surge of illegal immigration, closing its borders and rejecting Brussels’ demands to accept migrants. Orban explicitly defended Hungary’s rejection of EU immigration plans on grounds of cultural preservation and preventing terrorism. (RELATED: Hungary’s PM Stands Against Soros And Migrants To Preserve His Country’s Christian Culture)
Returning to those themes Thursday, Orban asserted Europe is facing a “crisis of immigration and terror.”
“Terrorists are taking advantage of the migrants’ routes to reach Europe and we have to take steps against this phenomenon,” he said.
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