Ahead of visit, documents list Orbán’s pro-Israel actions

Although Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been attacked as anti-Semitic, Israel Hayom has obtained two documents that list numerous actions his government has taken to foster Jewish life in Hungary and show support for Israel in international forums.

List of airports in Hungary. Credit: Wikipedia.
List of airports in Hungary. Credit: Wikipedia.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was due to arrive in Israel on Wednesday for his first state visit to the country. Although he has been attacked in Israel and abroad as being anti-Semitic, Israel Hayom has obtained two documents that detail numerous actions that he and his government have taken in support of Israel and Jews since he entered office in 2010.

As Israel Hayom reported this week, Orbán will not visit the Palestinian Authority, and is scheduled to visit the Western Wall on Friday in violation of European Union policy. Although this is Orbán’s first state visit to Israel, he previously visited to attend the funeral of former President Shimon Peres in 2016.

The first document obtained by Israel Hayom was written by the Hungarian Foreign Ministry and lists Orbán’s demonstrations of support for Israel in international forums, including Hungary’s refusal in April 2015 to sign a letter signed by 16 other E.U. nations that demanded special labeling for goods produced in Judea and Samaria; a visit to Israel by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto in November 2015, during which he announced that Hungary opposed that policy; Hungary’s refusal in December 2017 to join the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Croatia in condemning U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration that the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; and Hungarian and Czech opposition in May this year to an official condemnation by the European Council on the status of Jerusalem, which caused the council to drop the initiative.

The second document reviews actions taken by Orbán’s government to combat anti-Semitism.

“In Hungarian society, there are undoubtedly anti-Semitic voices, but they do not reflect the majority. President Orbán has stressed a number of times that he has zero tolerance for anti-Semitism,” the document says.

The document’s 16 pages list actions including changes to the legislation on compensation paid to Holocaust survivors living in Hungary; increases of 50 percent in pension payments to Holocaust survivors; changes to the Hungarian constitution to exclude anti-Semitic statements from protected freedom of expression; the criminalization of Holocaust denial; the prevention of the anti-Semitic Hungarian Guard organization from entering parliament; and the establishment of a dedicated institution to discover and monitor expressions of anti-Semitism.

The document also outlines steps taken in the field of “education and commemoration,” such as government funding for free screenings of the Oscar-winning, Holocaust-themed film “Son of Saul”; the construction of a memorial to Holocaust victims; the repair of Jewish cemeteries; making Holocaust-studies a required school subject; and financial support for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Fund to preserve the museum at the site of the Nazi death camp.

According to the document, the Orbán government has also worked to reopen synagogues and consistently condemns anti-Semitic incidents.

Orbán is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday. The leaders are also scheduled to have dinner with their spouses.

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