Saturday, December 5, 2020 -
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‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend’

There’s an adage often cited when it comes to defending the policy of realpolitik: “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” Okay, not perhaps a lifelong friend, but, as the situation calls, a possible ally.

This and another adage — “politics makes for strange bedfellows” — came to mind when we read about the recent possible cooperation between Jews and anti-Semites. Well, former anti-Semites, they claim.

We’re referring to the story “180º: Jews, Jobbik collaborating?”

Jobbik is Hungary’s far right party, accused of being both anti-Semitic and neo-fascist. But suddenly leftist — and even some Jews — are talking about working with Jobbik? There’s a simple reason, and it’s called the Fidesz party. The right-wing ruling party has made a lot of enemies — including Jewish umbrella group Mazsihisrz, who have accused Fidesz of propagating anti-Semitic stereotypes. Suddenly, Jobbik is becoming an option. In fact all of Hungary’s opposition parties have said they would endorse whichever candidate polls suggest is most likely to win any given constiuency.

We get the realpolitik thinking. But it seems a dangerous gamble. Despite Jobbik’s attempts at inclusivity, its difficult to ignore its nationalistic roots which included a good dose of anti-Semitism. Jobbik’s foundation was similar to that of other European populist parties: ethno-nationalism. Naturally Jews, gypsies and other minorities were not ‘real’ Hungarians. Jobbik politicians in the past have commemorated blood libels, used pejorative language about Jews and implied that Jews are a national security threat to Hungary.

More recently, Jobbik has tried to skew more mainstream conservative but naturally many Jews doubt how deep this shift is. Perhaps, much like those now open to talking with Jobbik, promoting inclusivity is a realpolitik tactic on the part of Jobbik.

Most likely for both Jobbik and its new potential friends, any potential partnership is based on realpolitik and will likely be short-lived. But as long as all parties are aware of that reality, perhaps working together — for now — is worth considering.

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