We went there last year and loved it. Budapest reminded me of a Renoir painting. It is the Europe that once was and at least there, still is. The crazies who run most of the European countries have banded together to restart Radio Free Europe in Hungary. Pitiful and disgusting, but here is the story that is mostly all right, and this is what I think is what provides the right sense of where Hungary is.
Last year, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warmly welcomed Orbán. Why? Because Hungary along with Romania and the Czech Republic helped block a European Union resolution denouncing Team Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
It wasn’t the first time the Hungarians have come to the Jewish state’s aid at the EU’s anti-Israel councils. In 2015, for example, Szijjártó announced that his country would defy an EU directive to affix labels on products from the West Bank and Golan Heights settlements. The order, he said at the time, was simply “irrational.”
As Szijjártó tells me, “with Israel, we have a strategic friendship and alliance, which had a huge boost thanks to the personal relationship between the two prime ministers. We have promised to open a trade mission in Jerusalem, which we delivered.”
As for the Jewish community in Hungary, it is among the safest in Europe. Thirty-seven anti-Semitic incidents were reported to the community watchdog in 2017 — none of them violent. Next-door Austria, with a Jewish community one-tenth the size of Hungary’s, had five physical assaults and more than 500 incidents. Hungarian synagogues, Szijjártó proudly boasts, “don’t need heavily armed soldiers.”
And the Hungarian government protected its Jews until they were invaded by the Nazis in 1944 who then sent Eichmann in to do what had not been done until then.