Director General of the Center for Fundamental Rights, Miklos Szantho

“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed.” (Isaiah 54:10) The beautiful words of the prophet Isaiah were intended to guide the first International Pro-Israel Summit organized by the Center for Fundamental Rights in Budapest this fall. But Israel's peace was brutally shattered on October 7th, 48 hours before the event. That day of infamy brought suffering, fear and pain to Israel and left people of good will in shock and dismay. The events that have unfolded since have brought some clarity. How each actor behaved in the aftermath of this brutal pogrom reveals a lot, and will determine the judgment of history.

In Hungary, we went ahead with the Summit. The atrocity may have irrevocably undermined the original intent – to celebrate the historic Abraham Accords – but it had also charged us with a solemn duty: to be at Israel's side in her darkest hour. At the exact same time, violent crowds gathered in Western European cities to spew a pro-Hamas message of hate. As we bowed our heads in silent prayer and solidarity with our Jewish friends, they called for the destruction of Israel “from the river to the sea.”

As distressing as it was to witness the mass anti-Jewish demonstrations in countries that have forgotten all about history, there had been many red flags. The Western world is dominated by a globalist left-liberal movement that seeks to erase the lessons of the past, while at the same time embracing its undercurrent of anti-Semitic tradition that has been there since Karl Marx. The postmodern Left despises national identity and nationhood itself with an irrational passion, so it is not surprising that it turns its wrath with increasing ferocity on Israel, a nation that has successfully defended its national sovereignty for decades – and its historical identity for thousands of years.

The Eurocrats in Brussels and the leftist parties that dominate the European Parliament never tried to stop mass migration; they encouraged it. The millions of illegal aliens helped deconstruct the national and Judeo-Christian foundations of European member states, and that this led to a rapid growth of increasingly violent anti-Semitism never bothered the Left. Perhaps they wanted cheap labor or a loyal voting base, but what Europe ended up importing is a virulent form of racial and ethnic hatred and Hamas sympathizers.

Hungarians are acutely aware that the postmodern Left has our national existence in its crosshairs. The cult of woke, cancel culture, and virulent gender propaganda targeting children all have obvious Marxist roots, which recent survivors of communism can easily recognize. In fact, both Hungary and the State of Israel have responded to the threats to their nationhood by consistently defending their interests in the face of global political trends. Both countries cherish their historical and religious heritage. Hungary can never identify with a pseudo-progressive ideology that rejects the very foundations of Europe: Greek philosophy, Roman law, Jewish ethics and the art of Christianity, and Israel will never abandon God's covenant. These are red rags to the globalist Left, and the result is predictable: the style, form and essence of the baseless accusations and attacks our two countries have endured are remarkably similar.

Moreover, there are many parallels between Israel's and Hungary's experience of sovereignty: because, historically speaking, we both have neighbors who have no interest in the existence of either of our states. It is precisely this contingency that Jerusalem and Budapest have sought and are seeking to transcend - whether we think of the Abrahamic Accords or Budapest's ambition to rebuild Central Europe as a great and influential region with its neighbors. However, we see that the tectonic plates of our global order are shifting, the geopolitical arrangement that was once considered historically final is in a state of turmoil, and at such times external powers, networks, terrorist groups are exploiting the confusion and trying to destroy our great ambitions. Their plans must not succeed. Therefore, even in the darkest of times, we cannot forget the common goal of our nations: to maintain stable, secure, strong countries even if the security architecture fragments into new blocs and we find ourselves on the brink of a new Cold War. Israel and Hungary must keep their sovereignty intact and actively participate in the interconnection of the West and the East.

Additionally, our twin quest for national survival is perhaps one of the reasons why Israeli-Hungarian relations have grown so close. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's historic journey to Budapest in 2017 marked the first official visit by an Israeli prime minister. Hungary is one of the most pro-Israel nations in the European Union (maybe the only one), and Budapest strongly opposes the BDS movement in both the EU and the UN, vetoing several anti-Israel resolutions in the former. Hungary's steadfast support for the Jewish State earned it a seat at the signing ceremony of the landmark Abraham Accords, alone among EU member states.

Hungary boasts the third largest Jewish community in Europe, and we are witnessing a veritable Jewish cultural renaissance. The 2019 European Maccabi Games were held in Hungary. Budapest hosts the annual Jewish Cultural Festival, which celebrates Jewish heritage in theater, music and culinary arts. The capital is home to the largest synagogue in Europe. Hungary is a safe place for Jews in Europe, and a clear indication of that is the fact that the Israeli national soccer team chose our country to host their home matches until the war against Hamas is won. To quote Eugene Kontorovich's remarks at last year's CPAC Hungary: “We can speak Hebrew in the streets of Budapest without fear of harassment, and there are plenty of kosher restaurants, or you can go to synagogue without a police escort.” Indeed, Hungary is determined to become a European hub of support for Israel, even as anti-Semitism rises in Western Europe – a challenging, but noble undertaking.

** Dr. Miklos Szantho is a lawyer and political analyst, has been the Director General of the Center for Fundamental Rights since its establishment in 2013. He has been a member of the Board of the Central European Press and Media Foundation since 2018. He is a Member of the Board of Advisors of the New York Young Republican Club. Mr. Szantho is the main organizer of CPAC Hungary. He is the author of numerous legal and political publications in Hungarian and foreign languages, co-author and co-editor of several books. In March 2021, President János Áder awarded him the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary in recognition of his high quality legal and political analytical work and his publications in Hungarian and foreign languages. He is married, father of a daughter and a son.

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