After the outcry: Hungary ends controversial campaign against Jewish billionaire George Soros

The Hungarian government will remove the billboards recently plastered across the country bearing the slogan "Let's not allow Soros to have the last laugh" after being accused of anti-Semitism. Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán: The pressure didn't get to me, the campaign was ending anyway.
"Let's not allow Soros to have the last laugh" Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

The Hungarian government has announced that it will withdraw its contraversial campaign against Jewish billionaire George Soros. In a laconic explanation, the government insisted that the billboards will be removed not because of any external pressure placed on the government, but because the campaign was scheduled to end on July 15. Over the past week, a number of billboards have reportedly been removed by Orbán's opponents who weren't prepared to wait for the government to officially cancel the campaign.

The Hungarian campaign had caused an uproar among the local as well as international Jewish community: Billboards with a smiling Soros were hung up across Hungry alongside the words: "Let's not allow Soros to have the last laugh" as part of the government's campaign against immigration. Soros, a Hungarian-born Jewish-American billionaire, is an outspoken critic of the Hungarian government and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's strict anti-immigration policy.

The campaign posters against Soros had quickly turned ugly, as they were covered with anti-Semitic graffiti soon after they appeared. The Hungarian government was consequently- and not for the first time- accused of a lax approach to, and even encouragement of, anti-Semitism.

The Hungarian Jewish community tried to persuade Orbán to remove the billboards and simultaneously appealed to the Israeli embassy for help. The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement condemning the campaign and criticizing the Hungarian government's actions, but reiterated that "in no way was the statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”

The head of the Jewish community in Hungary has also called on Orbán to explain his enthusiastic admiration of Hungary's leader during World War II Miklós Horthy, a known anti-Semite who allowed the murder of half a million of Hungary's Jews during the Holocaust.

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