(JTA) — A public broadcaster in Hungary broadcast an Iranian leader attacking George Soros as “an evil Zionist-American multi-billionaire,” spurring condemnation from Hungarian Jewry.
On Wednesday “Hirado,” the main news show of the state MTVA channel, also included quotes from Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the supreme spiritual leader in Iran, saying that Soros was responsible for destabilizing and defeating former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s regime.
Critics of the broadcast, including Mazsihisz, the umbrella group of Hungarian Jewish communities, said it risks stoking anti-Semitic sentiment.
Soros, a Hungary native whose pro-democracy philanthropies have funded groups opposed to the policies of the right-wing Hungarian government, recently became the subject of hostile statements by top Hungarian politicians. The Jewish-American billionaire also funds various Israeli NGOs, many with a critical attitude toward the Israeli government’s policies.
Mazsihisz condemned the inclusion of the quote by Khamenei, saying in a statement Friday that it echoes the purest and most common form “of anti-Jewish sentiments in the Hungarian extreme-right media.” The umbrella group also noted that the MTI state news agency declined to quote or report on its statement because of what Mazsihisz said were concerns it might “damage the credibility of the state media and its business interests.”
Zoltan Radnoti, the chairman of the rabbinical council of Mazsihisz, labeled the broadcast as “anti-Semitic incitement during prime time.”
Even before the broadcast, the campaign against Soros was “not free of anti-Semitism and should be stopped in order to prevent hatred,” Radnoti said in a statement. “The hatred which is now spread with taxpayer money.”
Others, including the leader of Hungary’s Chabad-affiliated EMIH Jewish group, have said the government has not displayed any anti-Semitic tendencies in its fight with Soros.