The Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom published a long interview in mid-March with Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga, who rightly states: “Europe positions itself as a defender of values and freedom of religion, but then sometimes it makes decisions that run counter to this values-based approach.”
Varga refers to the ban on kosher slaughter adopted in Belgium, which was upheld by the European Court of Justice, and also mentions the important role of Hungarian diplomacy, “especially when it comes to the Abraham Agreement or improving relations with Israel”.
However, Varga downplays the Hungarian government’s strident nationalist rhetoric – which is implicitly anti-Semitic – by referring to the “Judeo-Christian heritage”. Viktor Orbán would never speak of “Soros the Jew”, preferring to rage against “international speculators” and against the “Soros Plan”.
Government policy towards the Jews is ambivalent, and there is no reason to register only the positive.
Varga denies that the unprecedented campaigns against the “globalist elite” and the “Soros network”, which is blamed for migration to Europe, are hostile to Jews. This is cynical, because she knows how the messages reach the Hungarian population and what effects they can have. Conspiracy theories are the most dangerous form of anti-Semitism – with strong discrimination as a consequence.
The support of the Jewish communities is emphasised. The small Chabad community receives much more for its loyalty to “illiberal democracy” than the larger, sometimes government-critical, Mazsihisz. However, 90 percent of Hungarian Jews do not belong to any Jewish organisation. Christian nationalist rhetoric, described by the minister as “conservative”, reinforces a sense of exclusion, even threat, among these assimilated Jews – they are, after all, traditionally supporters of the demonised progressives. Government policy towards the Jews is ambivalent, and there is no reason to register only the positive.
Guest post by Karl Pfeifer