Board expresses ‘disappointment’ after Tory MEPs defend Hungary’s far-right

Board expresses ‘disappointment’ after Tory MEPs defend Hungary’s far-right

Jewish representatives criticise Conservative MEPs after all but two vote in defence of Viktor Orban's Fidesz

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Viktor Orban
Viktor Orban

The Board of Deputies may have set itself on a collision course with Israel’s government over the vexed question of support for the controversial Hungarian president, Viktor Orban.

This week the Board president Marie van der Zyl, “noted with disappointment” that Conservative Party MEPs have voted in defence of Hungary’s far-right government of Viktor Orban.

She said: “As we have stated previously, we are very alarmed by the messages at the heart of Orban’s election campaign, including his comments about ‘Muslim invaders’, calling migrants ‘poison’, and the vivid antisemitism in the relentless campaign against Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

“This whipping up of prejudice by the Hungarian government – alongside restrictions on press freedom and the independence of the judiciary – must be stopped before it undermines Hungary’s democracy irreversibly.

“It is very concerning that the Conservative Party MEPs chose to defend Hungary’s appalling track record, rather than supporting this motion to protect the rule of law.”

But Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warmly welcomed Mr Orban to Jerusalem in July, calling him “a true friend of Israel”. The visit was hailed with dismay by many Israeli politicians but Mr Netanyahu embraced his Hungarian counterpart and appeared to brush aside his far-right connections.

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