(JTA) — Jewish-American billionaire George Soros blasted the Hungarian government’s national survey about his views on allowing refugees into the country.
Responding to a questionnaire mailed to the European nation’s 8 million eligible voters, the Hungarian-born Soros said in a “Rebuttal” on his website that statements in the document “contain distortions and outright lies that deliberately mislead Hungarians” about his views on migrants and refugees.
Soros said in a detailed op-ed in 2015 that the European Union should be taking in 1 million migrants and refugees a year and sharing the burden of paying for them, something the Hungarian government now calls the “Soros Plan.”
“With Hungary’s health care and education systems in distress and corruption rife, the current government has sought to create an outside enemy to distract citizens,” Soros charges in his response. “The government selected George Soros for this purpose, launching a massive anti-Soros media campaign costing tens of millions of euros in taxpayer money, stoking anti-Muslim sentiment, and employing anti-Semitic tropes reminiscent of the 1930s.”
Part of the media campaign included posters over the summer showing a laughing Soros and the tag line reading “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh.” Jewish leaders in Hungary charged that the poster campaign incited more anti-Semitism. Many of the posters were defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.
Hungarian President Viktor Orban is running for re-election next year.
The rebuttal notes that Soros has been giving charity in Hungary since the 1980s, having established a charitable foundation there in 1984. It says he has given hundreds of millions of euros in scholarships, health care services and humanitarian efforts, and for cleanup after the red sludge disaster of 2010.
Soros, the statement says, also is funding current efforts to help educate children with learning disabilities, deal with homelessness, and bring public transportation to the Hungarian countryside.
Soros debunks what he deems seven incorrect statements in the questionnaire, including whether he is planning to dismantle border fences in EU member states (he says he is not) and whether he would force EU member states to pay immigrants some $28,000 a year in aid (he would not).
Last month, Soros transferred $18 billion to Open Society Foundations, a philanthropy he founded, in one of the largest transfers of wealth ever made by a private donor to one foundation, The New York Times reported.