Spiegel’s Take on Netanyahu and Orbán

As we reported here last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a historic visit to Budapest and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, culminating in a meeting between Mr. Netanyahu and the prime ministers of the Visegrad Four nations (Hungary, Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia) on July 19.

Der Spiegel is Germany’s progressive “newspaper of record”, roughly equivalent to The New York Times or The Guardian. Egri Nök explains why she decided to translate Spiegel’s oleaginous sneer about last week’s meeting in Budapest:

This Spiegel article on the meeting between Viktor Orbán and Benjamin Netanyahu is an anti-Orbán smear piece. I translated it because even Spiegel to admit that Orbán is not an anti-Semite.

The translated article:

Netanyahu at Orbán’s: “Hello Viktor, nice to see you”

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu is Viktor Orbán’s guest for three days. Despite anti-Semitic scandals, both celebrate their ties — they are dependent on each other.

By Keno Verseck
Wednesday, July 19

[Photo caption: Benjamin Netanyahu (l.), Viktor Orbán]

Viktor Orbán’s breach of taboo was just a few weeks ago. At the end of June, the Hungarian prime minister called the former regent Miklós Horthy an “exceptional statesman”. That very same man, who, as an authoritarian chief-of-state in the interwar period, was jointly responsible for the deportation of almost 600,000 Hungarian Jews to German extermination camps.

On top of that there is a smear campaign playing with anti-Semitic ressentiments against the US stock market billionaire George Soros, who is of Hungarian-Jewish descent and who allegedly wants to precipitate his native country into disaster.

It seems that all of this is no problem for Israel’s premier Benjamin Netanyahu. He has been in Hungary for a three-day state visit since Monday, and he encounters Orbán most cordially. “Hello Viktor, nice to see you,” Netanyahu greeted his fellow leader at the reception in front of the Hungarian parliament.

Later, the joint press conference almost became a matey chat — the two premiers happily chatted with each other when they signed two treaties, smiled at each other nonstop, and then verbosely celebrated their ties.

Orbán declared — never mind Horthy or Soros — a “zero tolerance policy on anti-Semitism”, promised the protection of the Jewish citizens of Hungary, and called the Hungarian involvement in the Holocaust a “crime” twice. Netanyahu, on his side, touched the topic only indirectly. He said it was “wonderful” to be in Budapest and thanked Orbán for his help in the fight against “Anti-Semitism disguised as Anti-Zionism”. Both praised each other for their “dedicated patriotism”; questions from journalists were not allowed.

Historic Visit to Budapest

Orbán and Netanyahu met three times on Tuesday alone, the last time of which was for dinner. On Wednesday the Israeli premier will meet his fellow leaders of the Visegrád states — besides Hungary, these are Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia. Netanyahu will stay in Budapest until Thursday afternoon. Among other things, he wants to talk to representatives of the Jewish communities.

It is an historic visit: the last time an Israeli premier was in Budapest was in 1989, before the end of the dictatorship. Relations have been mostly difficult since then, often tense. Under the national conservative as well as under the socialist-liberal governments in post-communist Hungary there were many anti-Semitic incidents and affairs which caused concern in Israel — starting with anti-Semitic manifestations in the first post-communist governmental party to racist, anti-Semitic marches by right extremists, which Orbán’s socialist-liberal predecessors did not ban.

Two Opponents of Liberal Democracy

The fact that the Israeli premier now, despite the current incidents, spends three whole days with Orbán, is part realpolitik (practical politics), part true sympathy: Both premiers share the same “robust”, confrontational, partially authoritarian style of governance, they are opponents of liberal democracy, and they have the same arch-enemy in the US stock market billionaire, philanthropist and supporter of non-governmental organizations George Soros.

The Hungarian opposition politician and publisher Attila Ara-Kovács puts it this way: “They are two premiers who are international pariahs. This brought them together and this keeps them together in their weird forced way.”

The publisher László Seres puts it more soberly in the Hungarian weekly newspaper “hvg”: “The Israeli government, on the one hand, likes the fact that the Visegrád states do not tag along in the extensive reception of Muslim refugees, and on the other hand, it is unlikely that they will criticize Israel for its controversial settlement politics.”

In fact, Hungary under premier Orbán, who has been ruling since 2010, has become one of the most consequent supporters of Israel. Orbán is not an anti-Semite. While he sometimes sweepingly attacks the Roma, he does not make any ambiguous remarks about Jews in public. [Is Spiegel insinuating so he makes them in private? — translator]

“A Great Future for the Both Us”

Orbán’s cue that today, in this world, “the patriotic governments are the successful governments” explains how this goes along with his remark about Horthy or his again anti-Semitically toned campaigns [What do they mean by that? If they had evidence they would bring it? — translator]. Orbán probably insinuated by this that their style allows them to go fishing for votes on the right fringe.

The fact that Netanyahu did not robustly condemn the campaign against Soros, but even justified it before his visit, is a disappointment and “unpleasant surprise” for the largest Jewish community organization of Hungary, MAZSIHISZ, said their spokesman András Heisler to SPIEGEL last week. A criticism, that he now repeats: One would feel “left alone”.

Netanyahu did not react to this at all.

8 thoughts on “Spiegel’s Take on Netanyahu and Orbán

  1. I would like to add some information to this article, to provide a clearer picture to the ones who more interested in the role of Miklós Horthy in WW2, why Orbán called him an exceptional statesman… etc.

    First I would like to note it, how the Left (and Hollywood – that is pretty much the same these days) distorted any discourse about historical events and the people played significant roles in those situations. As a possible side effect of the dumbed down education (let’s call the Leftist/Cultural Marxists indoctrination as “education” for the sake of simplicity), caused a degenerative view. Example now there is a view of the American civil war as a conflict between a squeaky clean North and the ultimate evil South, which stirring up more and more problems in the USA. This simplification of history already took World War II down the proverbial toilet, since Leftists and ANTIFA calling everybody “literally hitler”. Like some kind of cheap video game…

    Ok back to the topic at hand:

    First, for the history buffs here is long essay about Horthy’s role, written by a Jewish holocaust survivor:

    Second, what was the context of Orbán comment about Horthy being an “exceptional statesman”. He made this speech in a castle – which just got renovated – originally owned by Kuno Klebelsberg – Cultural and Educational minister of the early Horthy era. This was the (1920-1930) period, just after Trianon Treaty where Hungary lost 2/3 (yes 66%) of its territory after the First World War.

    To mention the “fairness” of that treaty, that even the losing Austria (leader of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire) also got territory from Hungary…

    After WW1, 1918 – followed by a Communist uprising, which weakened the country even more. In 1920 – the Trianon Treaty took away the majority of the country and Hungary was in a critical state: roads and train tracks are cut away by the new borders, the country was at a point of destruction. Horthy grabbed power as regent and with his leadership and his colleagues (including Klebelsberg) Hungary survived, despite the odds. That was the context Orbán was talking about, not what happened later… (if you take the time to read the essay above, you will see he was not a black or a white figure, just dirty gray like everyone in history).

    Original link, a Hungarian blog:

    In the Horthy mausoleum: “The wreaths of grateful Jews, who did not forget who they can thank their escape…”
    Image 1:

    Image 2:
    “A grateful Jew from out of many – In memory”

    Image 3:
    “From Grateful Jewry”

    To sum it up, Horthy did some good job to save his country, but this did not make him a good guy.

    Just as an interesting addition, being said that he despised the Nazis, not necessary because of their policies, but because he was an aristocrat and the “National Socialist WORKERS Party” was too lowbrow and commoner for him. He really liked the British, another country where also aristocrats ruled at the time. He did everything in his power to politically approach them, but he was mercilessly rejected.

    Another issue I would like to bring up and that is the divide between the different group of Jews. The people who are in this article from the Hungarian side, writer, journalist and the President one of the Jewish organization are also Jews but it seems like a different group than the Israeli PM.

    I think what happened is that the Jewish people broke into 2 great groups. The conservative and nationalist (and religious) ones mostly living in or support Israel. The other group became rootless in time, lost its religion and country and found a new cult for themselves: the left and cultural marxism. (Most atheist person with Jewish heritage ends up in the Left in overwhelming numbers) This second (Marxist) group even tries to destroy the first one… However, when someone criticizes a member of this Marxist group the Jewish people with a well-trained defense mechanism comes to the “help” of the person.

    In Hungary the liberal/leftist scumbags (that is without any heritage in question) use whatever excuse they can to attack their critics when they lose an argument. The gay ones will blame homophobia and the Jewish marxists will scream antisemitism to hold it as a shield. Unfortunately, this yields some strange situations. Like in 2015 when leftists (a large number of them Jewish heritage) wanted to open the fences for the muslim invaders (migrants) and when the government refused or criticized them for not being patriotic, they screamed anti-semitism. Then not only their Soros-paid media was squealing, but even orthodox Jews supporting their view point, while in reality the government defended them with the decision to not let a hostile force (especially for Jews) into the country.

    The very same thing happened in France, where they let in the hordes and now Jews (orthodox and religious ones) are running away because they get insulted and attacked on a daily basis. This is a weird disassociated behaviour through the whole community. Seems like the visit of Mr Netanyahu started to clear up the situation and at least now divide between the two group becomes more visible and the orthodox nationalist Jews are slowly realizing (I hope), their enemy also inside the gates.

  2. Did you know why Hungary lost that much territory?


    You kept that Diet for yourself, then you reaped the “benefiets”.

    • “Did you know why Hungary lost that much territory?
      You kept that Diet for yourself, then you reaped the “benefiets”.”

      What? Every ethnic groups had parties in the Hungarian Parliament before trianon! Ethnic parties in the parliaments:

      befor 1892: lot of independent ethnic representatives

      – RNP (Romanian National Party)

      – SzNP (Slovakian National Party)
      – SzrbNP (Serbian National Party)

      – RNP (Romanian National Party)
      – SzrbNP (Serbian National Party)
      – SzNP (Slovakian National Party)

      – RNP (Romanian National Party)
      – SzP (Saxon Party)
      – SzNP (Slovakian National Party)
      – SzrbNP (Serbian National Party)

      – RNP (Romanian National Party)
      – SzNP (Slovakian National Party)

      However, the voters of the ethnic minorities mostly voted for the main political parties, for example the Liberal Party (Szabadelvű Párt), because their political and economical interests was more important! Ethnic representativism and separatism was a minotiry ideology between them, because the basic Hungarian libaralism, the deficiency of the oppression (the “magyarization” was a minimal integration policy, the state would have liked it if his citizens speak the Hungarian language. Even the contemporary germanization in Germany brutal to this 19th century Hungarian integrational policy.

  3. Baron

    You state that – “newspaper of record”, roughly equivalent to The New York Times or The Guardian. ”
    Very few people in the UK would call The Guardian a “newspaper of record”. The newspaper of record in the UK is usually considered to be the Murdoch owned Times.

    In the matter of Horthy’s treatment of the Jews the article contains many errors. To quote “That very same man, who, as an authoritarian chief-of-state in the interwar period, was jointly responsible for the deportation of almost 600,000 Hungarian Jews to German extermination camps.” The deportation of Jews occurred in wartime so whoever was the (de facto) head of state in the interwar period it has no relevance.

    Wikipedia isn’t known for being friendly to those on the political right but it’s extensive history of Horthy is quite clear. Horthy enacted various restrictions on Jews including restricting access to Civil Service employment, higher education etc. However he resisted various demands from Hitler to round up Jews and deport them to Germany. This included turning down a demand from Eichmann that the Budapest Ghetto be cleared. After this refusal Himmler ordered Eichmann back to Germany.

    In the spring of 1944 Horthy was faced with a situation in which he could either appoint a ‘puppet government’ of nominees acceptable to Germany or be overthrown and replaced by a Gauleiter. The government he appointed in that situation included anti-Semitic Ministers who carried out the deportation of approx 437000 Hungarian Jews out of a total population of 825000 (both figures Wikipedia).

    Later in the year with a changing War situation (Romania withdrew from the Axis) Horthy used the situation to oust the ‘puppet government’ and appoint a more pro-Hungarian government. The new government stopped the major deportations of the Jews.

    In October 1944 Horthy agreed an armistice with the Russians. For doing this he was overthrown and transported as a prisoner to Germany. A new government of Hungarian Fascists was appointed by the Nazis and the deportations restarted.

    By the end of the war Wikipedia states ‘Out of a pre-war Hungarian Jewish population estimated at 825,000, only 260,000 survived.’ That’s a survival rate of 30% one of the highest survival rates for Jews in any of the Nazi occupied territories (probably only bettered by Denmark).

    The facts are clearly that Horthy was no friend of the Jews but he showed no enthusiasm for obeying Hitler’s orders and deporting Jews to Germany. The two main deportations occured in spring 1944 under the ‘puppet government’ that he was forced to accept under German pressure and in autumn 1944 after Oct 15th when Horthy was overthrown. He cannot be blamed for the second set of deportations as he was no longer head of state. He stopped the first set of deportations when he used the changing situation to remove the ‘puppet government’.

    Horthy testified at the Nuremburg trials against the German representative to Hungary who had forced him to accept the ‘puppet government’ in spring 1944 which had carried out the first set of deportations.

    • Yes, all of this is absolutely true. Yet Horthy described himself as an “anti-Semite”. That is, he didn’t like Jews. But he didn’t want to exterminate them — a crucial distinction.

      As CrossWare said: with Admiral Horthy, as with almost everything in history, there is no black and white, just a dirty grey.

  4. I related this story here a few years back, but it may bear repeating. In the 1980s, I worked in the record department ( LPs in those days) of a bookshop in London’s Regent Street. My immediate manager was a Hungarian Jew, T- S- .

    He’d been selected to swim for the Hungarians in the 1940 Olympics, which of course didn’t take place. His father brought him to the UK, but his mother refused to leave; she was rounded up in, I believe, early 1945 and murdered in the concentration camps. T-S- meanwhile trained as a paratrooper (and had his name changed in case he was captured), but injured his back in a bad landing, which still plagued him years later.

    At the end of the war, he was posted to Army Intelligence in Germany, interrogating prisoners to decide which should be sent for prosecution, which he said gave him some satisfaction. Later he worked in the menswear trade in London; since Jews in Hungary normally spoke Hungarian rather than Yiddish, he was sometimes regarded as stand-offish when he didn’t respond when addressed in the latter tongue.

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