Today’s Historic Moment in Budapest

Five prime ministers, left to right: Bohuslav Sobotka (Czechia), Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel), Viktor Orbán (Hungary), Robert Fico (Slovakia), Beata Szydło (Poland) — Click to enlarge

An historic meeting was held in Budapest today, July 19, 2017. It was the culmination of a two-day state visit to Hungary by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first such visit by a sitting Israeli prime minister.

The prime ministers for the Visegrad Four group of Central European nations (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic) were also present. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán currently holds the rotating presidency for that group, and he was authorized to act on behalf of the other three in his discussions and negotiations with the Israeli prime minister. The results may be seen in the two videos below.

This summit represents a sea change in relations between Israel and the European Union. The V4 countries are breaking away from customary the anti-Israel politics as usually practiced by Brussels. The V4 and Israel have interests in common. Unlike their neighbors to the west of the Iron Curtain, they have no intention of allowing mass Muslim immigration to destroy their countries, which is what has happened to Britain, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

This is a vote of no-confidence in NATO by both Israel and the V4. The Central Europeans have learned the hard lesson that they can trust neither the EU nor NATO (e.g. see Kosovo, 1999). Mr. Orbán is looking for new security arrangements to avoid having to cut a deal with the Russians — which nobody really wants to do, except from a very strong negotiating position. Which is what the V4 will gain from an alliance with Israel: the Russians know that Israel is not a trivial power.

If President Trump is smart (and I think he is), he’ll take this as a heads-up about the coming shift in power relations between Europe and Israel.

Many thanks to CrossWare for translating the Hungarian in the first video, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling and the uploading:

Yesterday’s remarks by Benjamin Netanyahu:

Prime Minister Netanyahu on Twitter:

Following my meeting with the Visegrad Group, I met with Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka, Polish PM Beata Szydlo & Slovak PM Robert Fico

Video transcript for Viktor Orbán:

0:04   Good day, respected ladies and gentlemen, respected Mrs. Prime Minister [Israeli PM’s wife],
0:08   Prime Ministers! Today something
0:12   happened in Budapest that has never before occurred.
0:16   For the first time ever, we had a meeting
0:20   between the prime minister of Israel and the prime ministers of the V4 [Visegrad Four] countries .
0:24   My task is now to sum up briefly
0:28   the results of the summit.
0:32   Before we met the Prime Minister of Israel
0:36   we had a separate discussion,
0:40   I must say about three short sentences:
0:44   We sent a letter to the prime minister of Italy; this is already published,
0:48   so you can all read it. We agreed
0:52   that of the agencies moving away from London,
0:56   at least one of them should be placed in the V4 countries
1:00   — the new center should be placed into one of the V4 countries —
1:04   so we support each other and work together on this issue. Finally,
1:08   the prime ministers of the V4 recorded a negotiating mandate
1:12   for me, which concerns our negotiations with the French government.
1:16   This will be the basis of the discussions with them,
1:20   and about its mission directive. That is about that.
1:24   After this let me to return to the discussions with the prime minister of the State of Israel,
1:28   their Prime Minister and the V4 prime ministers’ summit, in a nutshell.
1:32   The prime minister — Mr. Netanyahu —
1:36   suggested that we setup a working group
1:40   — a shared work group — to combat terrorism.
1:44   We accepted this. The prime minister had another suggestion,
1:48   to setup another working group
1:52   to facilitate technological cooperation, in the interest of this…
1:56   we will work out the details. Thirdly, the prime minister invited us
2:00   to Israel. We thought it over; we considered it a great honor,
2:04   and accepted it. I would like to remind everyone…
2:12   … of the point of view of the state of Israel: the defense of the external borders of every state
2:16   has key importance for the safety of that nation.
2:20   That is a thought that we V4 countries share.
2:24   We had a long discussion about the importance of the defense of external borders.
2:28   We also had a long discussion about how the free flow of people,
2:32   without any control and checks, increases the risk of terror.
2:36   We talked about the relationship between
2:40   the European Union and Israel, too.
2:44   The Hungarian point of view in this matter was:
2:48   The European Union should value
2:52   those efforts that the State of Israel
2:56   makes for the stability of the region, which
3:00   is not only in Israel’s interests but in Europe’s, too, because it protects us
3:04   from newer and newer waves of migrant invasion.
3:08   We appreciate these efforts and we recommend that the European Union,
3:12   should also appreciate them. Similarly,
3:16   by reviewing the relationship between the EU and Israel,
3:20   we noted that it is not reasonable.
3:24   It requires improvement. We would like relations between the EU and Israel
3:28   to be characterized by rationality and logic.
3:32   And instead of criticizing Israel, they should cooperate with it.
3:36   We should open the doors for that [cooperation] and make opportunities available.
3:40   Hungary will represent such a political direction in
3:44   its dealings within the EU. That, in a nutshell,
3:48   was the essence of the discussions. I represented the Hungarian point of view for you;
3:52   now I pass the word to Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.
3:56   Here you go…

Video transcript of yesterday’s remarks by Benjamin Netanyahu, as posted on the PM’s Facebook page:

Thank you, Prime Minister Orbán, for this very warm welcome. I am honored to be the first Israeli sitting prime minister to have an official visit to Hungary. It’s quite astounding that it didn’t happen before. It’s about time. And it’s wonderful to be here on this first time.

When I come to Hungary, the first thing I think about, before anything else, is that Hungary was the, in many ways, the birth of modern Zionism, the movement that led to the establishment of the modern Jewish state because in Hungary was born our modern Moses, Theodore Herzl. And I intend to visit on this visit the site of his home. It is probably inconceivable to think of the Jewish state, the State of Israel today, if it weren’t for that man born here in 1860, who envisioned the rebirth of the Jewish state and who saw in his mind’s-eye also the great challenges that would be posed anti-Semitism. He thought that this ultimately was the best solution for the Jewish people.

Now, since that time, obviously, the Jewish people have suffered great tragedy. We’ve overcome it. You’ve alluded to it. And also, the people of Hungary faced great struggles, and you’ve overcome it. You have, we have both built modern, vibrant states. We recognize the past as we seize the future. The future I think belongs to those countries who innovate. Israel is an innovation nation. Hungary is a country with great, great talents. And we believe that this partnership, along the lines that Prime Minister Orbán discussed, I think these are the ways to proceed.

Tomorrow, there is going to be a meeting here of CEOs from both countries. They’ll meet to discuss economic and business terms. Prime Minister Orbán and I also discussed cooperating on areas such as cyber and areas of security, which are important for both countries. And of course this will… I am sure that this will get a practical boost from this visit. Of course we are going to instruct our — and we have — our respective people to make sure that this happens. But the idea is not to stay where we are, but to move forward. I think there is a great future for both of us. I know that technology by itself, Prime Minister, my experience, is not enough. It’s a requisite, but it’s not sufficient. What you need to make economies grow is reforms, market reforms. We discussed this many years ago. You called me and you said, “We’d like to learn from your experience.” And I actually sent somebody there to tell you at least what we were doing. I have since followed what you have been doing. And obviously there has been a growth of both of our economies, and I think together we can do even more. And this is, I think, the result of this visit.

We’re also going to deepen cultural ties to bring our peoples closer. Many Israelis come here. I invite Hungarians to come to Israel. You have a beautiful country. We have a beautiful country. I think we should visit each other.

I discussed with Prime Minister Orbán the concerns that I heard raised from the Jewish community. He reassured me in unequivocal terms, just as he did now, publicly. I appreciate that. These are important words.

And I also want to thank you, Prime Minister, for standing up for Israel in international forums. You’ve done that time and again. We appreciate this stance, not only because it’s standing with Israel, but it’s also standing with the truth. And I believe that Emanuel Macron, whom I visited with yesterday, two days ago, said something very important. He said there’s a new anti-Semitism that is expressed in anti-Zionism, that is, in delegitimizing the one and only Jewish state. In many ways, Hungary is at the forefront of the states that are opposed to this anti-Jewish policy, and I welcome it. I express the appreciation of my government and the people, many people in Israel, for this.

Equally, I want to say that I look forward to the opportunity tomorrow to meet with the Visegrad Group. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for hosting this group, to invite me to speak to this group, because I believe that we have many, many common interests. So for all these reasons, I want to say thank you for this invitation and I look forward to our discussions.

32 thoughts on “Today’s Historic Moment in Budapest

  1. What these five countries have in common is that they’re all “real” countries that care about their citizens. They all have a recent history of “recovered freedom”. They all have a recent history with Russia in some way or another.

    Israel is probably the most “Westernized”/PC of the five, but still nowhere near the level of Western Europe.

    Militarily, Israel is probably the most “serious”.

    The interests align fairly well.

    • You’re right. A real country has borders and decides who its immigrants are.

    • “but still nowhere near the level of Western Europe”

      Nowhere? Do you know about development of technology in Israel?

    • This is a truly momentous meeting. Of course it failed to make the news in Britain, as the BBC waded into their troughs to tell us why they are worth every penny of the slush funds set up for their fake news.

      And THIS story-which I would regard as seismic in potential-got ignored. So thank you for putting it up on this wonderful website.

      As is said, all these countries know the stakes, the games and the lies of the EU and the fainthearts of NATO in Brussels. True nations right at the crossroads of contemporary culture clashes. New Europe indeed in co-operation with the Middle East’s one canary that is God’s own country of Israel. This Komarno Summit is great news, God bless all five nations as we know them to be God’s special battleground for the coming storms of Communislam. Your patriotic and national leaders will surely be strong enough.

      God Bless the V4a and Israel…and we`re watching the Three Seas Initiative too which is the hope of New Europe, as well as the death rattle of the old one.

  2. I love this cooperation between Israel and the V4… The Jews are betting on the winner and they are a smart bunch… Also they know exactly how to organize defense when surrounded by Islamic hordes… which is coming soon to Europe: the French Caliphate, the German Islamic State, the Italian Emirates, Belgianistan, etc…

    • Thank you for your noble translation work. We would be excluded without it.

        • I think Viktor Orban is absolutely brilliant.I am thrilled that he has taken this initiative. Crossware this must make you prouder than ever to be Hungarian. Kudos to your great president and kudos to you.The world is a better place for the existence of Viktor Orban and Hungary.I certainly hope to visit Hungary in the future.

          • Thank you very much for your kind words. Yes I am very proud to be a Hungarian. We would be honored to see you visiting our country!

  3. A new sphere of geopolitical and economic influence in Europe is to be most welcomed by those who have seen the intended disaster of the European Union.

  4. Finally we are on the same page. It was high time Good move for BiBi and Viktor. Both Hungary and Israel are outnumbered 400:1. Good morning gentlemen….


  5. Am I the only one who feels uneasy about this new alliance?
    Poland: 3,300,000, 90 percent of its Jewish population.
    Hungary: 550,000, 65 percent of its Jewish population.
    Slovakia: 71,000, 80 percent of its Jewish population.
    Czechia: 78,000, 72 percent of its Jewish population.
    were murdered during WWII.
    I ask a genuine question.
    When did these countries stop being a mass graveyard for Jews, and start being our new partners and allies against Islam?

    • Anyone who responds to this question – and it is an important one – had better avoid any slippery slope thinking here.

      How many generations before it is permissible to have any economic or strategic alliances with the V-4? To what extent were the massacres driven by their overlords, the Germans? We can look at Germany today: the sounds of silence as their country is overrun with Islamic criminals while Germans remain silent – what else can one do? – is instructive.

      Israel needs this alliance, and vice versa. That’s one reason Hungary’s past sins were publicly named by Orban.

      • Two good questions, which require sober answers.

        First – it is unequivocally permissible to have economic and strategic relations with all of these countries. Ben-Gurion set the precedent in the 1950’s when he agreed (against heavy criticism) to accept reparations from Germany.

        The argument which (I think) SimonB was suggesting was not that it was morally impermissible to make such an alliance, but simply that it would be a mistake to rely on such an alliance, because of the past history of the nations.

        Now, if someone were suggestion that millions of Jews should leave Israel and go and live amongst these nations, then I think SimonB’s argument would carry a lot of weight. But we are dealing with treaties between nations. This, I think, is the primary thing the V-4 nations have in common – its politicians feel bound to identify and pursue their national interests, not vague international precepts.

        The second thing to ask here – is there an alliance? I think it is premature to speak of alliances here. What we have is a shared worldview. Can we even speak of common interests? Surely, there are shared economic and cultural interests, but political ones? The immediate purpose of the V-4 is to control their borders, or prepare for the moment when Europe loses all control over the movement of the immigrants, and another flood reaches their borders.

        What can Israel do to help? Sell them arms? Help them build fences? Anything they need to stop a flood of migrants, they can get from a hundred sources. Counter-terrorism expertise? Ok, maybe, but if they keep the migrants out, they won’t need as much of that as, say, France. Political support? Is Israel’s vote going to help them in the U.N.?

        The main problem is that the access countries for migrants going to Hungary – namely, Greece and Italy – are not represented. Greece has closer relations with Israel since the break with Turkey, but I think they’re quite firmly under Germany’s thumb – firmly enough that nothing Israel says or does will have much influence.

        There is another hard limit on any alliance which these nations form with Israel, namely – Russia. Russian dominance might not be as immediate a threat as the migrants, but it’s definitely up there. I don’t think it’s in Israel’s interest to come into conflict with Russia for any but its most vital interests. I devoutly hope that even the stupidest Israeli politicians realize this. Israel might not be a trivial military power, but there is little difference between being swept aside like a gadfly or like a mosquito.

        So to me, this does not look anything like an alliance. America’s hegemony is being questioned. The viability of Europe is uncertain. Nations on the periphery are sounding each other out, coming to a realization of shared perspectives, and gauging their common interests. But there is no immediate impetus to action which requires a treaty, or an alliance.

        Now, if Italy and Greece were to join, and all parties agreed to fund a common navy to turn back the boats of immigrants – that would be something else.

        • I expect Austria to be up on that podium with the others fairly soon. The situation at the Brenner Pass has highlighted the deep divide between Austria and Germany, and its shared interests with Hungary and the V4.

    • You forgot one minor detail – there were germans who ordered this murder. Otherwise this horrible statistics would never take place. And as opposed to germany now they don’t accept muslim murderers now and don’t bleat about so-called settlements. Jews are safer in these countries then in Israel.

      • I think you are exactly right. It was the Germans pursuing the mass deportation of Jews living in these countries to concentration camps. At least that’s what I know from the history of occupied Czechoslovakia.

    • While your question may be genuine, it seems to be based on a gross falsehood. In the case of Poland the country bears absolutely NO responsibility for the genocide of its Jewish population. If anything, more Poles died saving Jews than in any other country (and they certainly did more than all the Jews in America during the war). When prominent Jews like Felix Frankfurter (who didn’t hesitate to believe fantastical stories about pogroms against Jews after WW I in Poland) was told by Jan Karski about the developing genocide against the Jews during WWII, he was incredulous.

      Poland was tolerant and welcoming towards the Jews for centuries. The fact that Germans turned Poland into the greatest graveyard for Jews (and Catholics) in the world has nothing to do with Poland’s past or present suitability to be an ally of Israel. It pains me that thousands of young Israelis are taken on what are essentially Holocaust tours of Poland by the busload, I see them in Warsaw regularly. It perpetuates the falsehood that Poland is primarily the graveyard of their ancestors and Poles were somehow complicit in this. The same thing is perpetuated through “Holocaust Studies” course at virtually every American university, where all that is learned about Poland is through the prism of the Holocaust and the propaganda of con-men like Jan Gross.

      • I can accept that the government of Poland (in exile) bore no responsibility for the genocide of its Jewish population. As for the people of Poland between 1939 and 1945 (who do automatically bestow either guilt or innocence on their posterity) ,it is much harder to make such an unambiguous statement.

        It is true that the mass murder was organized by the Germans. It is also true that they found plenty of willing helpers. You are, I believe, quite right to point out that many Poles took great risks to save Jews, more than in any other country. But surely, this is a statistical artifact of the fact that there were so many more Jews to be saved (or abandoned) in Poland. If there are 3,000,000 Jews in country X, and 50,000 in country Y, then it is likely that there will be far more Righteous Gentiles in country X, quite irrespective of the attitudes of the two nations. Any comparison between countries has to be on a per-capita basis.

        It is a hard thing indeed, to gauge the balance between complicity in murder on the one hand (easy to do in time of war), and the noblest self-sacrifice on the other (astonishing that even one such person could be found). However, other events are easier to judge. The Kielce pogrom occurred in 1946, when Nazi power had vanished. Jews who had survived six years of Nazi extermination came back home… to be murdered by their neighbors. These things are remembered. I do not say that it unique to Poland. In Budapest, after a year of successive German defeats, with Russian armies encircling the city, Hungarian Nazi sympathizers hurried to shoot Jews in the head and toss them into the Danube, before the opportunity was gone. There is a video of Isis doing exactly the same thing on the Euphrates.

        What has this to do with Poland’s present suitability to be an ally of Israel? Very little. In this, I agree with you, though (I suspect) for different reasons. Now that the Jews are no longer subject to their power, they can treat with each other as equals. One does not have to agree on everything to make common cause against a greater enemy. England and France fought against each other for centuries before forging an alliance in the early 20th century, which has lasted more than a hundred years.

        • That alliance between England and France is fragile. France hopes to take advantage of Brexit to isolate England (now the UK) so as to bring down London’s financial might. The French are being French again.

  6. I think it’s not reasonable to view Israel as a counter to Russia. Israel is a much better counter to Turkey, which would be a huge threat to eastern Europe in the event of security disintegrations in Europe. An alliance with Israel would lower the need to depend on Russian military support, which is far different from looking to counter a Russian military threat.

    I think the best strategy for the V4 would be to de-emphasize military integration with NATO, and avoid becoming a military threat to Russia proper. It would be in the natural best interest of Russia to prevent any EU or NATO military pressures on the V4, and there would not need to be any alliances or agreements at all with Russia.

    • I agree that Israel is no counter to Russia. I don’t think Israel would be a good counter to Turkey, either, from Eastern Europe’s perspective. The historical counter to Turkey would be Russia, and Russia would be so delighted to play this role again, that it would care not a whit for the perceived needs of Hungary or Poland, whether they be greater or lesser as a result of Israeli action or inaction. The pretext would be enough.

      • Interesting too are the current threats being offered to Poland by some Russian politicians who have taken as a sleight the removal by Polish authorities of several Soviet era ‘monuments’ to the Russian ‘liberation’ of Poland during WW2 within several Polish cities.

        Old enmities never seem to die out.

  7. I agree on every single term this conference and I wish it could be the same in Spain, and the rest of UE countries, which it appears they are ruled by incompetent governments all over.

  8. It seems like all the good news, politically speaking, these days is coming from the Visegrad countries.

  9. The story of Poland during and after the Holocaust is a mixed bag. Many Poles saved Jews; many others killed Jews themselves or collaborated with Germans in doing so. Right after the war, when surviving Jews tried to return to Poland to reclaim their homes, several thousand were murdered, by Poles, not Germans. In the 80’s an official government policy (Communist) of Jewish persecution resulted in most of the tens of thousands of Jews who still remained in Poland fleeing the country. To this day, it is estimated that there may be a few thousand Jews who have yet to “come our of the closet” with those awful memories very much alive. Jeff

    • On a much smaller scale, we did the same to the Americans of Japanese descent who tried to reclaim their homes when they were let out of our camps. Glass houses and all that.

    • Let me give you the other side…
      Hungary a large portion of the Jews are atheist (big fans of open borders and unlimited migration) and essentially JOBB’s (Jew Only By Birth). Only one of them Soros, many others working for him. Lot of them are Leftist with strong Liberal-Marxists and Communists ties, who frequently using the “I can skip the line, because I am Jewish and we had the Holocaust” card or the “I can’t be criticized because I am a Jew then you are anti-Semitic” card. That is annoys people, even if they have deep respect to the Jewish people. Such overuse of this cards makes the user similar to the muslims who always demand preferential treatment for themselves. Of course there are many loyal Conservative Jews living here as well and they started to voice their concerns about this. One of them is Rabbi Slomo Köves. But really the visit from Prime Minister Netanyahu and his stand with Orbán made the real difference. Now those Marxists cannot intimidate the Conservatives.

  10. I was born in one of the countries of V4. They are now the real deal, they are the West and understand what freedom and civilization mean and how precious the legacy of European values is.

    My birth country had never had any form of slavery, no colonies, my ancestors never caused any oppression to other countries from which we would have to perceive guilt as the French, Britons, even Germans so pathetically do.

    I left my Homeland for another country who became my second home: the land of
    the free and the home of the brave. I am proud of being Americans as that is my conscientious choice. Now I am watching with awe the countries of V4 defending what America has always stood for … The circle of my wandering life is curiously closing.

  11. I think Hungary and other eu countries, have been backed into a corner by Brussels , and now they are looking for ways to gain support to prevent Merkel destroying their countries, wise move which I feel will grow momentum and this is the start of dismantling Brussels and its power hungry control of European nations , A country should make a choice if it wants to allow immigration, not be told it has too,

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