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On the Right and Left, Too Many Jews Are Happy to Be Useful Idiots

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This time last year I was in Hungary doing research for a series of features on the ties between the governments of Viktor Orban and Benjamin Netanyahu. In Budapest I met a Chabad rabbi who spent two hours passionately defending Orban’s nationalist policies, including his vitriolic campaigning against pro-democracy activist and Jewish financier George Soros. He explained to me why the Hungarian prime minister was the best ally the Jews could ever wish for. He was about to accompany Orban on his visit to Israel, a living testament to his friendliness toward Jews.

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Outside, on one of the main streets of the Hungarian capital, you could see posters attacking Soros, featuring all the old themes of the arch-capitalist using his money to subvert the culture of the proud Magyars. Alongside these messages were massive notices publicizing Jewish cultural events taking place in one of Budapest’s grand synagogues, lavishly renovated with funding from the Orban government.

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Orban of course isn’t the first nationalist leader in Eastern Europe to use anti-Semitic-style campaigning for political purposes while having prominent Jews in his entourage and pursuing an alliance with Israel. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been doing that for much longer. On the one hand, his Kremlin-funded propaganda channels routinely feature a bizarre cast of conspiracy theorists, Holocaust deniers and Jew-baiters. On the other hand, he has gone out his way to be seen in the presence of rabbis, donated his state salary (meaningless as he’s reported to be sitting on a private fortune of billions) to the Jewish museum in Moscow, and worked closely with every Israeli prime minister in the last two decades.

U.S. President Donald Trump,........

© Haaretz