I was attacked in a laughably slanted way by leftist media in Hungarian this week, and I responded in @neokohn, a news and opinion site for Hungary’s Jewish community. Since Hungary and Israel are the site’s focus, they put the answers in that context–but in the answers, I’m talking about the United States as much as both countries: same issues, same questions, same fight.
The conflict between a post-nationalist EU and a nationalist Hungary mirrors the ideological conflict between Red and Blue states in America– and it has implications about how citizens relate to their government, and to the things that bind citizens with one another.
When the Left calls Hungary—or Donald Trump–“authoritarian,” it’s a smear intended for you to think they are bad people, radicals, without any good reasons for what they do. The attacks are outrageous and over-heated caricatures, and they are meant to obscure. When Trump said, “if you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country,” he was saying something so fundamental that it transcends the language, history and distance between the US and Hungary.
David Reaboi calls himself a proud Jew, supports Donald Trump and is critical towards George Soros and what he calls the “NGO Archipelago.”
As the Hungarian edition of Radio Free Europe has recently reported, the Hungarian Embassy at Washington DC had struck a deal with the communication firm of David Reaboi. Reaboi, who has Hungarian Jewish ancestors from Transylvania, is a national security expert and has written a number of articles covering the Middle East. He spoke to Neokohn about his new task, the image of the Hungarian government abroad, his identity and what he thinks about George Soros.
How are you planning to defend the Hungarian government against foreign criticism?
Because I am in the United States, my efforts are focused on explaining the long and important US-Hungarian relationship to an American audience.
Hungary is unfairly the target of attacks from what I call the “NGO Archipelago”—a massive, foreign-funded infrastructure of think tank workers and journalists who are ideologically committed to what is often loosely termed a “globalist” outlook.
The attacks are almost always outrageous and over-heated caricatures, and they are meant to obscure a very real divergence in worldviews that encompasses many different issues. The conflict between a post-nationalist European Union and a nationalist Hungary mirrors, in nearly every way, the ideological conflict between red and blue states in the United States and has implications in terms of how citizens relate to their government, and to the things that bind citizens with one another. While its enemies absurdly endeavor to present Hungary—or, really, any conservative in the West—as “authoritarian,” Hungary is no different than any other nation throughout most of history: it understands that defense of its sovereignty is paramount, because only then can it ensure the continued survival of its citizens, language, culture and traditions.
The Hungarian edition of Radio Free Europe had branded you “Trumpist” and “Alt Right.” Are you any of these things, or do you think there’s any problem with being Trumpist or alt right?
I support Donald Trump, and think he’s been a bulwark against this new so-called globalist ethos that’s been embraced by many elites in the West. Without question, the attempted vilification of Trump is along precisely the same lines as the attempted vilification of Hungary—and for the same reasons.
When Trump said, “if you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country,” he was expressing something so fundamental, it would’ve been understood by any serious person since the beginning of the nation state.
Today, however, this is a very radical idea within the capitals of the Western world—but not among the citizens of these countries, who are always more sensible and grounded in reality and common-sense, not the ideological fixations of the elite classes. As far as “Alt Right” goes, I’ve never been connected to or sympathetic that movement in the slightest. I am what I have always been, a political conservative who loves the American Founding, its principles. I’m aware of efforts from the Left, including by hyper-partisan journalists, to tar any voice on the Right with “Alt Right”—in order to get milage from linking their political opponents to racists and other racial chauvinists who embrace that label. The tactic is repulsive and it’s wrong, and thankfully few Americans take these baseless accusations seriously.
You called yourself a proud Jew in one of your Tweets. Can you tell us about your family background?
I am a proud Jew and have fought Jew-hatred all my life. I grew up listening to my family talk about their experiences in Holocaust, and the horror of those times. I spent years compiling and recording research about my grandfather’s time in Auschwitz and other concentration camps and helped organize a speaking tour for him to tell his story to high school and middle school students.
The Hungarian government is often accused of anti-Semitism, especially because of its campaign against George Soros. Do you think that there’s any truth to these attacks?
Hungary’s criticism of Soros centers around his ideology—and the millions he spends to advance it, to the detriment of most of Hungary’s citizens. This criticism from the Hungarian government isn’t focused on Soros’ particular religious beliefs, it is focused squarely on his politics. For this criticism to actually be antisemitic, Soros’ politics would be immaterial.
By any measure, a figure as consequential as Soros—with billions invested in controversial political causes around the world—is not above criticism from those who take issue with both his positions as well as how he spends his money. In fact, being able to discuss and critique the effects of Soros’ philanthropy (or anyone else’s) is an essential human right. The Left’s accusations of antisemitism with regard to Soros are intended to cut off this criticism against one of its primary donors—and, in some jurisdictions, to make this criticism illegal. This should be alarming (and infuriating) to all freedom-loving people.
It’s also grotesque that these cynical and bad-faith accusations of antisemitism are done in the service of Soros, who has spent his life illustrating that he is not committed to the survival of the Jewish people. He has long been an outspoken opponent of Jewish self-determination or Zionism and has spent countless millions in attempts to undermine the Jewish State within Israel (through funding of NGOs) and to weaken support for Israel in the United States (funding JStreet and other groups). It’s not surprising, then, to know that criticism of Soros’ philanthropic efforts is best understood within Israel, where he is recognized by millions of Israelis as an opponent of their national project, as well as someone who advocates for policies that imperil their survival.
The cynical, weaponized use of accusation of antisemitism in order to defend George Soros is a moral low point for many journalists, politicians and others. The effect of this campaign is to put Soros’ philanthropic activity in service of his ideology beyond the scope of debate while increasing actual antisemitism by defining it so broadly, unfairly and vindictively against political enemies who aren’t the least bit antisemitic.
How do you see Hungary’s pro-Israel record?
The best way to understand the natural and productive alliance between Hungary and Israel—especially in the relations between Prime Ministers Orban and Netanyahu—is by understanding the anti-nationalist, anti-sovereignty, so-called globalist ideology that both countries face in Western capitals, much of the media, and within the “NGO Archipelago.” Both have an interest in maintaining their identities as nation-states based on their culture, tradition, language and people.
And both find themselves doing battle with powerful entities that demand cultural sameness, and the disillusion of the things that make both nations unique.
Unlike most other countries in Europe—many of which are fierce critics of Hungary and its government’s policies—Hungary is one of the safest countries in the world for Jews and has undertaken great efforts to ensure the physical safety of its Jewish citizens and visitors. In fact, it has been Hungary’s insistence on control of its borders, and its refusal to bend to demands from European governments and political players like George Soros, that has made it possible to support the country’s thriving Jewish life.