In reply to a letter by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, President Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) said he had never made the statement attributed to him concerning the move of the Open Society Foundation (OSF) from Budapest to Berlin, Bertalan Havasi, the prime minister’s press chief, told MTI on Saturday.
Lauder said Orban’s letter “refers to a statement that I never made, nor is it one that I believe”.
The WJC president said “my high regard for you and the people of Hungary has not wavered and I appreciate all that you have done for the World Jewish Congress, especially joining us in our convention in 2013.”
Lauder said that Orban was, no doubt, also aware that one of his highest priorities as WJC president “has been strengthening the ongoing and strong bond of friendship between the Christian and Jewish communities, not just in Hungary, but throughout the world. Like yours, this policy has both moral and theoretical reasons and serves to better the coexistence for all people.”
He suggested “going forward together, in friendship” and asked Orban to feel free to call on him first so as to avoid any further miscommunication. Lauder expressed hope to meet the prime minister soon and wished him success in guiding his “great country through these turbulent times”.
In a letter sent to Lauder on Friday, Orban said that Hungary and its citizens were “deeply insulted” by public comments made by the WJC president, concerning the move from Budapest to Berlin of the Open Society Foundation. “It is well known and obvious in Budapest that the reason for the Foundation’s move is that Hungary has introduced rules that extend transparency to organisations financed from abroad,” Orban wrote in the letter.
“I would respectfully call your attention … to the fact that the Foundation and its founder bear personal responsibility for the growth of anti-Semitism in Europe. They have brought people to Europe – among migrants – whose political and religious views have dramatically increased the vulnerability of our Jewish communities. In contrast, Hungary and its government protects European Jewish communities when it prevents the uncontrolled entry of migrants into the European Union. Our policy has moral and theoretical reasons, and also serves the idea of Jewish-Christian coexistence, in which we continue to believe with conviction. For this we do not expect any recognition, or gratitude from the World Jewish Congress, of course,”
the letter says.
According to Wednesday’s issue of Germany’s Bild tabloid, Lauder expressed concern about the OSF’s move to Berlin, saying he did not agree “with everything that US billionaire George Soros says or does”, but he considered the treatment of a man “who has done so much” in central European countries to spread democracy after the fall of communism to be unworthy.