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Home/Rod Dreher/Viktor Orban Was Right

Viktor Orban Was Right

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban meets his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 (Source)

I have been busy for the past week in Paris doing interviews to support the release of Live Not By Lies in French, so I haven’t been able to be as attentive to this blog as I would like to have been. I’m back in Budapest now at the beginning of the week, and I have a busy day of blogging ahead of me, getting caught up on the things that happened while I was distracted.

It was gutting, to put it mildly, to see the outburst of violent anti-Semitic attacks on the streets of American cities by Arabs wishing to punish American Jews as a way to get at Israel. Peter Savodnik wrote a slashing essay on Bari Weiss’s Substack, which began like this:

The furies have been unleashed. They were everywhere you looked these past two weeks, though you won’t read about them much in the papers.

We saw them on Thursday, when pro-Palestinian protesters threw an explosive device into a crowd of Jews in New York’s Diamond District.

We saw them on Wednesday, when two men were attacked outside a bagel shop in midtown Manhattan.

We saw them on Tuesday, at a sushi restaurant in West Hollywood, when a group of men draped in keffiyehs asked the diners who was Jewish, and then pummeled them. And in a parking lot not far away, when two cars draped in Palestinian flags roared after an Orthodox man fleeing for his life. And in the story of the American soccer player Luca Lewis, cornered by a band of men in New York demanding to know if he was a Jew.

Then there was the caravan careening through Jewish neighborhoods in North London carrying people screaming: “Fuck the Jews! Rape their daughters!”

And the rabbi, outside London, who was hospitalized after being attacked by two teenagers.

And the demonstrator in Vienna shouting, “Shove your Holocaust up your ass!” — the crowd of young people, mostly women, cheering.

The synagogue in Skokie that was vandalized. The synagogue in Tucson that was vandalized. The synagogue in Salt Lake that was vandalized.

The pro-Israel demonstrators in Montreal pelted with rocks. And the pro-Palestinian agitators in Edmonton driving around in search of Jews.

The teeming crowds in Washington, D.C.BerlinBangladeshPhiladelphia and Boston and San Francisco and, of course, across the Arab world. The seemingly ubiquitous accusations of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.”

The Turkish president, reaching all the way back to the Middle Ages, accusing Israelis of “sucking the blood” of non-Jewish children.

Every hour on the hour, the celebrities posted their memes and the elected officials and the influencers — it’s hard to tell the difference — called Israel an “apartheid” regime. Apartheid regimes, like regimes guilty of genocide and ethnic cleansing, are meant to be overthrown. Violently, if need be. So bloodshed is warranted, yes?

The silence-is-violence people — those who are quick to “call out” anyone deemed inadequately antiracist, experts at digging up any dusty book passage — have been remarkably quiet when it comes to Jews being dehumanized and hunted down.

In Paris, I was talking to a senior French journalist about this, and said to him, “You know one Western capital where this isn’t happening? Budapest. I live next to the Jewish quarter, and walk through it to get to my office every day. When the violence started, I expected to see police guarding the synagogues and Jewish businesses. None showed up. I saw men wearing kippahs walking down the street looking unworried. Then it hit me: it doesn’t happen here.”

The French journalist said that a few years ago, he had been in Budapest, and had been influenced by the constant media propaganda against Hungary depicting it as an antisemitic, fascist state (this, for having demonized George Soros). He paid a call on the chief rabbi, and asked him if he was afraid of being attacked by antisemites.

“He just laughed,” recalled the journalist. “He said, ‘We are not afraid here.'”

This is not just a dinner party anecdote. Look at these results from a 2018 survey of antisemitism in the European Union, conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights:

Hungary is at the bottom of the list! The bottom of the list. Look who is at the top: France, followed by Germany, the Belgium.

It is, alas, no doubt true that manifestation of residual anti-Semitism occurs among ethnic French, Germans, and Belgians. But everybody who knows anything about this phenomenon in contemporary Europe knows that the great majority of it comes from Muslim immigrants and immigrant communities.

This is not a simple story about Bad Immigrants and Innocent Europeans. In 2017, The New York Times Magazine ran a long, interesting story about young Muslim politicians in the violent Islamic suburbs of Paris, trying to find a way to integrate the alienated Islamic masses into the values of the Republic. It seems to me impossible to deny that many European countries and societies have made it difficult for Muslim immigrants to integrate over the decades since immigration began. But the truth is, even with the best of intentions on the part of the Europeans, it was always going to be.

Because assimilation is vastly easier in the United States, it is hard for Americans to grasp why it is not so in Europe. We Americans are a young society by European standards. We were born from an act of revolution against the Old World. We have defined ourselves against tradition. It pains some of us American conservatives to say so, but the US is the premier modern nation: capitalist, dynamic, individualistic, relatively rootless. It is much easier for people from other countries to integrate into our society, because we are so fluid, dynamic, individualistic, and rootless.

Europe is not this. Europe cannot be like this without ceasing to be Europe. As a Europhilic American, I don’t want European countries to be like America; I want them to be European, and more to the point, I want France to be French, Hungary to be Hungarian, Sweden to be Swedish, and so forth. It offends our American universalist sensibilities, but I’ve been coming here for over half my life now, and I believe it to be true. If I was granted Hungarian citizenship (or French, etc), and lived the rest of my life here, there is no way I would be Hungarian except on paper. This is not because the Hungarians, or the French, are unkind to foreigners (though they might well be). This is because they are all heirs to a fathomlessly old culture, which one cannot take on and take off like a jacket. It is very, very hard for Americans to grasp this, though we who come from the South tend to fare better, as many of us hail from towns where people say they moved there fifty years ago, and are still thought of as newcomers.

Still, if a European country is going to bring in migrants, it has a moral and a practical responsibility to make it possible for them to leave peaceful, productive lives. A case can be made that various countries have failed to do that, or at least have not done as much as they could have done. But a case can also be made — and you hear this a lot from French people on the Right — that most of the migrants despise France and her culture, and want to be in France — with all the benefits that living in a modern welfare state provide — without being French, a culture they hold in contempt.

In France last week, I heard a lot of talk about impending “civil war.” The term came up because of an open letter some retired French generals published in the French conservative magazine Valeurs Actuelles, warning that the suburbs were about to explode. They called the coming catastrophe “civil war,” but from what I could tell in my various conversations last week, they’re talking about something more like The Troubles in Northern Ireland: long, sustained, urban guerrilla conflict. One source with whom I walked through the rain and across the river put it like this; this is very close to what I heard from other informed observers, so I’ll let this paraphrase stand for the rest:

If the suburbs all go off at the same time, France does not have enough police and military personnel to restore order. Everyone in power, both in the military and the civil government, knows this. So do the thugs of the suburbs. Anything could spark this conflagration. Anything. It could go off any day. This is what accounts for a lot of the deep anxiety in French life today. That, and the fact that there is no clear solution, and maybe no solution at all.

Perhaps because we had a longer talk than I did with other sources with whom I discussed the matter, this source said something I did not hear from the others (to be fair, I didn’t ask): that he would favor rounding up the Muslim troublemakers of the suburbs and shipping them all back to where they (or their parents) came from, without flinching, and without apology. This man — with an advanced degree, very cosmopolitan — doesn’t see any other way. He told me that this next presidential election, and possibly the one after it, will seal France’s fate. That is to say, by 2030, we will know if France will survive intact, or will collapse, one way or another. If this source is correct, France faces a terrible choice: either to cease to be a liberal democracy, or to cease to be French.

After enough of these conversations, and in reading about the antisemitic violence plaguing streets of American and European capitals as the result of war in Israel and the Palestinian territories, it hit me hard: in 2015, Viktor Orban was right. He infuriated Hungary’s EU partners by refusing to take Muslim refugees in the mass migration sparked by the Syrian civil war. From the New York Times in 2015:

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, was criticized online and in person on Thursday for writing in a German newspaper that it was important to secure his nation’s borders from mainly Muslim migrants “to keep Europe Christian.”

“Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims,” Mr. Orban wrote in a commentary for Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, a German newspaper. “This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity.”

“Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian?” Mr. Orban asked. “There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders.”
More:

Before meeting with Mr. Orban on Thursday in Brussels, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, which represents European Union leaders, thanked him for securing Europe’s borders, but took issue with the argument of Mr. Orban’s opinion article.

“I want to underline that for me, Christianity in public and social life means a duty to our brothers in need,” Mr. Tusk said as he stood alongside Mr. Orban.

“Referring to Christianity in a public debate on migration must mean in the first place the readiness to show solidarity and sacrifice. For a Christian it shouldn’t matter what race, religion and nationality the person in need represents.”

Mr. Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, drew attention to his rebuke of the Hungarian leader on social networks, and his office posted video of his comments on YouTube.

Mr. Orban waited until the end of the day to respond to Mr. Tusk. At a separate news conference in which he faced reporters alone, he reiterated the theme of his article, that Europe was at risk of being “overrun” and had to shut its borders. The Hungarian prime minister argued that European countries had no obligation to accept most of the migrants, as “the overwhelming majority of people are not refugees because they are not coming from a war-stricken area.”

“Our Christian obligation is not to create illusions,” he said.

And:

Viewed from Hungary, Mr. Orban continued, the experience of multicultural living in Western Europe did not look appealing.

“We don’t want to criticize France, Belgium, any other country,” he said, but “we think all countries have a right to decide whether they want to have a large number of Muslims in their countries. If they want to live together with them, they can. We don’t want to and I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries, and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see.”

This is something American and European liberals cannot tolerate — even though in Europe, the large number of Islamic migrants are not only making it hard for Christians and Jews, but also for secular liberals. This is the thing they cannot bring themselves to talk about in public, especially in the media. The mobs of the suburbs have less regard for the secular liberal values of the Republic than they do for Christianity.

Jews in Paris are terrified of Islamic antisemitic violence. So are Jews in other European capitals. Despite what the European media would lead you to expect, they’re not terrified in Budapest, Why is that, do you suppose?

This went out on Twitter in the past few days. Watch the short interview clip; it’s in English:

Again, this is a normal human feeling, a universal one (what the Foreign Minister says, I mean) — but globalists like Amanpour cannot abide it. She goes on to say that Hungary doesn’t have a migration problem, because it has no migrants — as if that is some kind of rebuke to the Hungarian Foreign Minister, rather than the vindication of Hungary’s policy!

If you could wind back the clock fifty years, and show the French, the Belgian, and the German people what mass immigration from the Muslim world would do to their countries by 2021, they never, ever would have accepted it. The Hungarians are learning from their example. It is impossible to look westward from Hungary, and to see a desirable future in the models elsewhere in the European Union. Hungarians are European, but they see among the European left, and among the European establishment figures (of left and right), a death wish. They seem to believe that the only way to live in harmony with these imported peoples and cultures is to train new generations of European children to despise their own culture and traditions. In this sense, secular liberalism has become a suicide pact for Western nations.

So, we go back to the Jews. Hungary under Viktor Orban is constantly slandered in the European and American media as antisemitic for its attacks on Soros. Soros, who was born in Budapest, has dedicated many of his billions to support his Open Society Foundations, international NGOs that promote political and cultural liberalism. (I wrote last month about how OSF is engaged in campaigns to legalize and valorize prostitution.) Back in 2015, with migrant waves streaming from the Middle East into Europe, Soros wrote in an op-ed:

First, the EU has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future. And, to do that, it must share the burden fairly — a principle that a qualified majority finally established at a Sept. 23 summit.

There is a reason why the Hungarian government demonizes Soros, you know. To be clear, I don’t read Hungarian, and I would not dream of defending the Fidesz supporters’ treatment of him in every instance. What I would say, though, based on reading about Soros in English-language media, and examining the websites of his foundations, and their values, is that Soros is a true secular liberal globalist whose interests are diametrically opposed to those who want Hungary to remain Hungary. The fact that he is Jewish is a canard that allows his supporters to explain away all criticism of him and his work to undermine European national traditions that he finds objectionable. A few years back, I wrote about how Soros’s OSF were spending a lot of money, some of it coming from the US Agency For International Development, to liberalize the country of Macedonia. Part of the expenditure was translating Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals into Macedonian, printing it, and distributing it there. This is not a conspiracy theory; follow the link to my pieces, which had the goods.

If you call critics of Soros antisemites, it is easy to distract people from what him and his foundations are actually doing in these countries where the only way most people in the West have of knowing what’s going on is through the reporting of journalists like Christiane Amanpour.

Yet ask yourself: why are the Jews in Viktor Orban’s Budapest unafraid during this period of antisemitic violence, but the Jews in Macron’s Paris, Merkel’s Berlin, and many other Western capitals — including Washington, and America’s cultural capital, New York City — are afraid, and have reason to be? European antisemitism is not strictly a matter of Muslim hatred of Jews. Hungary’s Jobbik political party — now part of the opposition coalition — has in the past been openly antisemitic, though it has moderated its views in recent years, and is now led by a young Jewish descendant of a Holocaust victim. The point is, you can find antisemitism in Hungary. Plus, in that same survey I quoted at the start of this piece, Jews in Poland, where Islamic migration scarcely exists, also said they were afraid of antisemitism, and had experienced it.

Nevertheless, Poland is the outlier; in most of Europe, despite the shameful Jew-hating of remnants of the old Right, antisemitism is predominantly a Muslim thing.  In fact, this long piece from the New York Times in 2018 reported the truth that the European left and establishment leaders don’t want to face:

Nearly 40 percent of violent acts classified as racially or religiously motivated were committed against Jews in 2017, though Jews make up less than 1 percent of France’s population. Anti-Semitic acts increased by 20 percent from 2016, a rise the Interior Ministry called “preoccupying.”

In 2011, the French government stopped categorizing those deemed responsible for anti-Semitic acts, making it more difficult to trace the origins. But before then, Muslims had been the largest group identified as perpetrators, according to research by a leading academic. Often the spikes in violence coincided with flare-ups in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, according to researchers.

For the French government, the issue is deeply complicated, touching on the country’s rawest political nerves, as well as ethnic and religious fault lines. France has Europe’s biggest population of both Jews and Muslims, and Muslims face both discrimination in employment and in their treatment by the police.

French leaders fear pitting one side against the other, or even acknowledging that a Muslim-versus-Jew dynamic exists. To do so would violate a central tenet of France — that people are not categorized by race or religion, only as fellow French citizens, equal before the law.

“We are all citizens of the republic, one and indivisible. But this doesn’t correspond to reality,” said a pollster, Jérôme Fourquet, who along with a colleague, Sylvain Manternach, wrote a recent book, “Next Year in Jerusalem, French Jews and anti-Semitism,” published by the respected Fondation Jean-Jaurès, a think tank associated with the Socialist Party.

“All the politicians speak of living together,” Mr. Fourquet said. “And yet, instead, we have de facto groupings based on culture and community. Yet to recognize this is to recognize the failure or breakdown of the French model.”

Gunther Jikeli, a German historian at Indiana University who conducted a meticulous study of Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe, called the phenomenon “blindingly obvious” in a recent opinion piece in the newspaper Le Monde.

In 16 surveys conducted over the last 12 years in Europe, “anti-Semitism is significantly higher among Muslims than among non-Muslims,” Mr. Jikeli wrote.

“There is a kind of norm of anti-Semitism, of viewing Jews negatively,” he said in an interview.

Three years on, what’s happening to the Jews these days in Western European capitals is a pretty clear sign that regarding migration and national identity, Viktor Orban was right in 2015, and he’s right today. You won’t read anything like that in the major Western media. You’re reading it here.

In 2013, Orban gave a speech to the meeting in Budapest of the World Jewish Congress, and took a hard line against antisemitism. Take a look at this new clip from a Jewish organization talking about the revival of Jewish life in Budapest today. This clip reflects what I’ve seen with my own eyes in walking through the Jewish quarter almost daily over the past five weeks. It might open some eyes:

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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