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The Remedy to Israeli Far Right’s Ties With Orban: International Liberal Alliances

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Hungarian PM Orban and Israeli PM Netanyahu during a meeting in Israel, 2018.
Hungarian PM Orban and Israeli PM Netanyahu during a meeting in Israel, 2018.Credit: Marc Israel Sellem
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

In the past decade, the Israeli right has developed a systematic strategy. It has waged an aggressive delegitimization campaign against any kind of cooperation between the center-left in Israel and liberal and progressive movements abroad, while at the same time cultivating extensive ties with anti-liberal forces around the world.

In their opinion, Israel’s liberal camp shouldn’t get support, financial or ideological, from European organizations and countries, including Jewish donors who are too liberal for their taste. The right, however, is more than welcome to embrace populist conservatives everywhere, to prioritize the support of evangelical Christians over Jews, to scrupulously defend the far right in Europe, and even to make common cause with neo-Nazis.

For years, there have been warnings about what this might lead to, including the fear, now being realized, of a “Hungarianization” of the country. In its current hubris, not only does the Israeli right not hide how it draws support and inspiration for its planned judicial coup d’etat from events in Hungary, but it also openly and brazenly brags about it.

On Thursday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote on his Twitter account that he had met with the Israeli director of the Israeli-American right-wing Tikvah Fund organization, exchanging impressions on efforts to create a conservative society in their respective countries. “Building a conservative community is a tough job. But both [Hungary] and [Israel] have some great results already,” Orban tweeted, adding: “I had the chance today to compare notes with Amiad Cohen on this noble mission.”

These growing ties between the Israeli right and anti-liberal forces around the world are the concrete foundations of the deep changes the right now seeks to bring in Israel. These ties were also clearly reflected when the settler lobby used the Christian evangelical lobby in the U.S. to influence the Trump administration. In Europe, Israel’s anti-liberal lobby has linked up with parties with known fascist affiliations, based on what they call a “Jewish-Christian alliance” that allows these parties to direct their racism mainly against immigrants, Black people and Muslims, with the aid of a stamp of approval from the Jewish state.

But in the meantime, some members of the opposite camp have bought into the brainwashing against similar alliances with liberal and progressive groups and leaders. If the democratic camp hopes to survive and to come out victorious, it must abandon this attitude and increase and normalize its international alliances, learn from the experience of others around the world and jointly make statements and take action. The support would not necessarily be financial, but rather ideological. There is nothing wrong with exchanging insights in order to advance common political goals.

Consider, for example, the words of the historian Andrea Peto, who was forced into exile from Hungary because of Orban’s regime, in an interview with Ayelett Shani (Haaretz Hebrew edition, January 20): “It is worth reading what the people who have studied this policy in the past decade or two write about this. Everything is known in advance. The screenplay is written. We see it in action in Brazil, in Rwanda, in Turkey, in Russia. It’s clear who the actors are, what the consequences are, how it works on the global level. The inspiration and ideas are global. The strategy is global. There are international institutions that are in charge of this.”

The time has come to stop being afraid and apologizing, and for the liberal camp to establish corresponding international alliances.

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