Disturbed by recent events in Hungary, I recently wrote the following letter to Prime Minister Jozsef Antall: 

In recent months, a series of articles, published in several Hungarian newspapers, attacked me as well as the foundation I established in Hungary. Most of these articles appeared in a newspaper edited by the vice president of the ruling party, Hungarian Democratic Forum (H.D.F.). The authors are not private individuals, they are members of Parliament, and one of them is a vice president of the party. If these attacks were limited to personal insults and slander, I would not feel compelled to turn to you. My intentions and my actions have always been open to scrutiny. It is not the Government’s role to defend me. However, what we are dealing with here is more than mere insult.

Leading members of your party have accused me of nothing less than taking part in an international anti-Hungarian conspiracy whose origins can be traced to Israel and whose goal is to extinguish the Hungarian people s national spirit, making them susceptible to foreign domination. Other participants in this conspiracy are, according to them, Jews throughout the world, Hungarian Jews, capitalists, liberals and Communists, as well as “cosmopolitans” and Freemasons. To prove that these astonishing allegations were actually made, please allow me to cite from some of them.

In the July 9 edition of Hungarian Forum, the party weekly, Istvan Csurka [vice president of the Hungarian Democratic Forum and a well- known playwright] writes: “George Soros is toying with the idea of leaving [Hungary], but no one should be fooled by this—if Soros does in fact leave, it won’t be because he was insulted by the anti-Semitic extreme right, but because official policy in Jerusalem has—perhaps—changed.”

“Termites Are Devouring Our Nation—Reflections on the Soros Regime, the Soros Empire” is the title of an article by Gyula Zacsek, an H.D.F. member of Parliament (Hungarian Forum, Sept 3, 1992). Mr. Zacsek’s premise is that “the bouquet of terms—Communism, liberalism, cosmopolitan and antisemitism—is inescapable.” He claims, moreover, that “in Hungary, the role played jointly by Communists and Jews in their pursuit of power is unquestionable.”

Following this article, Mr. Zacsek addressed an open letter to me, which clearly states that he considers Jews foreign elements in Hungary: “I understand and respect your pride in acknowledging your Jewishness,” he writes, “though I do not understand what it means to be a ‘Hungarian Jew,’ just as I wouldn’t understand what it would mean if someone claimed to be a Hungarian-German or a Hungarian-Vietnamese or a German-Spaniard. Unless, of course, he was referring to a bilingual dictionary!”

According to Mr. Zacsek, “the change in political system [the demise of the Communist regime in 1999] began as a consciously planned, well-thought-out course of action—a self-engineered coup by cosmopolitans.” In other words, the Communist leadership was cosmopolitan, the dissidents were cosmopolitans, and these cosmopolitan elements conspired to preserve each other’s power. “The Soros Foundation was a vital tool and resource in laying the groundwork for this transition,” Mr. Zacsek asserts elsewhere.

The motivating force behind the Central European University that I established is explained by Mr. Zacsek in the following manner: “Once again the time has come for all the people in the region to subscribe to uniform ideas. The Communist ideologues told us exactly the same thing.” And “if this can not be implemented with two-week study courses, let’s try it with a one-year program, and if even that doesn’t work, let the tanks roll again.”

Toward the end of his article, Gyula Zacsek writes this about me: “Naturally, after all of this, it’s not at all surprising that (Soros) is being expelled from Romania and Slovakia; perhaps he won’t wait until the same happens to him in Hungary.” His information is incorrect: I have been expelled from neither Romania nor Slovakia; there would be no legal basis for such action. It is true, however, that the nationalist press in both these countries has savagely attacked me as a Hungarian agent.

I can only regret that Mr. Zacsek enthusiastically supports the Slovak and Romanian nationalists attacks against me and, through me, the attacks aimed at all Hungarians. But it is no accident that rabid nationalists and narrow-minded populists in all three countries consider me their enemy. My foundations seek to promote open societies while they, under the guise of nationalism, are interested in creating closed societies. In order for them to succeed, they need first and foremost an enemy against which they can then mobilize an entire nation, and if there isn’t an enemy about, they must invent one.

This is an extremely dangerous process whose ultimate consequences we have already experienced in the Nazi era, and can once again witness in the former Yugoslavia. That is why I take these accusations very seriously, despite the fact that their manner and content are beneath contempt.

In Romania and Slovakia they revile me as a Hungarian agent, in Hungary as a cosmopolitan and a Jew. I accept all three labels—Hungarian, cosmopolitan, Jew—with pride, but I reject with every fiber of my being the ideology which attacks me for it.

I am aware that a representative of the Ministry of Culture and Education has, on one occasion, dissociated himself from these views. However, it seems that this was not sufficient, since the attacks have not ceased. I should like to know the official position of the ruling party, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, and that of the Hungarian Government. I need this clarification because my foundations have frequent contacts with Government agencies and officials. I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me reassuring answers to the following questions:

  1. Do you find acceptable the statement that the expression “Hungarian Jewish” can beconsidered meaningful only when referring to a “bilingual dictionary,” that is to say that if one is Jewish, one is alien to Hungarian nationality?
  1. Do you find acceptable the statement by Istvan Csurka, the vice president of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, that Hungarian Jews and the Jews of the world participate in an international conspiracy against Hungary?
  2. Do you find acceptable the statement that the Soros Foundation is participant in this conspiracy and its activities have been designed to preserve and promote the power of Communists and Jews in Hungary?
  3. Do you find it acceptable that a member of your party and a member of Parliament suggests that I leave the country voluntarily rather than wait to be asked to leave?

I have never sought recognition for my philanthropic activities and I am not seeking such recognition now. I am prompted to write to you by my deep concern for the future of democracy and open society in Hungary. I regret having to burden you with my letter. As I consider these questions to be matters of public concern, I intend to make public both my letter and your reply.

In his reply, which I received on Sept. 30, the Prime Minister did not substantively address my questions but referred to previous public statements in which he had distanced himself from statements by Mr. Csurka.