(JTA) — Far-right activists in Budapest targeted a Jewish community center that serves as the headquarters of several ethnic and refugee activist groups, filming themselves as they put up defaced posters of the Jewish billionaire George Soros.
The video was filmed last week outside the Aurora community center by members of the far-right Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement and posted online by ultranationalist media including Szent Korona Rádió.
Seven men, dressed in black and sporting the very short haircuts in the skinhead neo-Nazi style, are seen walking through Budapest’s 8th district, a poor area with many immigrants and Roma, or gypsy, residents.
The men place posters reading “Stop operation Soros” on the message board of Aurora, established in 2014 by Marom, a Jewish identity group affiliated with the Conservative/Masorti Movement. Aurora functions as the headquarters of several additional groups, including the Roma Press Center, Budapest Pride (a gay rights organization), the Migszol refugee advocacy group and the Zold Pok agency for social activism.
Aurora is not funded by Soros, an American Jewish businessman and philanthropist who was born in Hungary and who has clashed with the government over his funding for several organizations in Hungary with a liberal, pro-democracy agenda.
In a text on its website about the “raid on Aurora,” the far-right youth movement said the Jewish center promoted ”deviant circles, hosting Budapest Pride” and are “of course always open to the offices of the Roma Press Center.” Extremist groups in Hungary regularly target the Roma minority.
The activists spray-painted anti-Soros slogans on the sidewalk outside Aurora’s entrance.
The youth movement’s account of the incident ended with a menacing message, informing the groups at Aurora that they are “far from untouchable.” Time permitting, “we will say hello again,” the authors wrote, adding an emoticon of a smile and a wink.
Adam Schonberger, the president of Marom, said the action by the far-right youth movement was the first case of such intimidation targeting Aurora. The organization alerted authorities as to the incident, he said.
In March, the former leader of Britain’s far-right British National Party, Nick Griffin, delivered a lecture at an anti-Soros conference in Budapest in which he devoted long minutes to discussing Aurora. He demonstrated “astonishingly detailed knowledge” of the place, according to the news site 444. Griffin quoted heavily from an article published in JTA in February about Aurora.
In recent weeks, the government of Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a center-right politician, has escalated its rhetoric against Soros, who for years has been financing opposition to Orban and pro-democracy causes that are not popular among supporters of Orban’s ruling party, Fidesz.
In March, Orban vowed to shutter a university established by Soros, the Central European University, and has introduced legislation to that effect.
Last month, Orban told Kossuth Radio that Soros is behind an attempt to limit Hungary’s sovereignty as part of “a well-established international campaign, which has been ongoing for more than a decade and can be linked to the name of George Soros.” He added this campaign is “extremely dangerous.”
Last week, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans, a center-left Dutch politician, appeared to agree during a press conference with a journalist who suggested that Orban’s comments sounded anti-Semitic.
“I understood that exactly the same way and was appalled,” Timmermans said. Hungarian ministers demanded an apology for the statement. Slomo Koves, leader of the EMIH group, which is affiliated with Chabad, also said that the clash between Orban and Soros was not anti-Semitic.