Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban comes to Israel for a controversial visit as he and Benjamin Netanyahu try finding common ground so they can work together.
Orban’s visit caused concern in Israel over allegations of anti-Semitism in Hungary that he has provoked with nationalist rhetoric and a campaign against controversial Hungarian born, U.S. Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
Those issues don’t seem to bother Netanyahu as he tries forging stronger and closer ties with European nations willing to provide strong backing to Israel. He and Orban also both strongly support U.S. President Donald Trump, according to Flash 24 News.
A year ago, Netanyahu made the first trip to Budapest by an Israeli prime minister since the fall of communism in 1989, where he thanked Orban for “standing up for Israel in international forums.”
He also denounced “absolutely crazy” European Union demands of Israel, such as those related to the West Bank, in closed-door remarks picked up by a microphone and overheard by journalists, according to Agence France-Presse.
Netanyahu praised all of the so-called Visegrad group, which includes Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, all countries who have nationalist positions that bother Brussels.
Orban arrived Wednesday and will hold talks with Netanyahu on Thursday, according to Israel’s foreign ministry.
He will tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial on Thursday afternoon and visit the Western Wall in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on Friday before leaving, Agence France-Presse reports.
In a break with protocol for EU leaders who usually meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah during such visits, he has no scheduled talks with Palestinian leaders, Agence France-Presse reports.
Orban’s rhetoric against the Budapest-born Soros has raised plenty of eyebrows.
Many in Hungary’s 100,000-strong Jewish population, one of the largest populations in Europe, have accused Orban of encouraging anti-Semitism, Flash 24 News reports.
A government poster campaign last year, attacking Soros for his alleged support of mass immigration, drew heavy criticism over what some saw as its use of anti-Semitic imagery, Agence France-Presse reports.
Ironically, Soros in a “60 minutes” interview in 1998 admitted to helping Nazis identify Jews in Hungry when he was a child.
Orban has stressed that the campaign was about Soros’s political views and that Hungary has “zero tolerance” toward anti-Semitism.
Netanyahu criticized Soros as well for supporting human rights groups critical of the Israeli government.
Orban’s praise of wartime leader and Hitler ally Miklos Horthy as “an exceptional statesman” for rebuilding Hungary after World War I has also caused critics to speak out loudly.
“Netanyahu is going to honour Viktor Orban, who has hailed and praised the anti-Semitic leader who collaborated with the Nazis in the extermination of the Jews of Hungary. Shame!” said Yair Lapid, head of centrist Israeli opposition party Yesh Atid, on Twitter.
Galia Golan, political science professor at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, spoke of an “informal alliance” of right-wing, nationalist governments.
“These are the countries that support us and we have to go with the counties that are supporting us,” she said. “But why are we in this category to begin with?”