WHAT BIBI AND ORBAN CAN SHAKE ON

First Things | 1/24/2013 | Sohrab Ahmari
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If a geopolitical observer had predicted a decade ago that Israel and Saudi Arabia would one day join forces against Iran, he would have been laughed off the stage. Yet here we are. It is a surreal turn of events, but one whose inner logic is easy to discern. After six decades of unremitting hostility, the Arabs have learned that a Jewish state nestled beside the Mediterranean isn’t the source of their troubles—and might even be a solution.

Something similar can be said for emerging ties between Israel and the conservative-nationalist governments of Central and Eastern Europe. Despite a vexed history, the two camps are warming to each other, in large part because they find themselves in the same diplomatic corner, facing a common ideological threat—namely, an imperious transnational liberalism that has nothing but contempt for nationhood and borders and particularity.

Sign - Warmth - Week - Premier - Viktor

The latest sign of that warmth came this week, with Hungarian premier Viktor Orban’s visit to the Jewish state. To say that Israel rolled out the red carpet for Orban would be a gross understatement. Orban’s Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, showered him with praise and called him a “true friend of Israel.” Orban, for his part, stressed the importance of Jewish security in Europe and Israel; he wished he could have stayed longer.

The friendship has already paid dividends for both sides.

May - Hungary - Romania - Czech - Republic

In May, Hungary, along with Romania and the Czech Republic, barred a joint European Union statement condemning the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. For Europe’s insurgent East Bloc, there was a principle at stake: sovereignty, and a nation-state’s sovereign decision over the location of its embassy. This was not the first time Budapest had come to Israel’s rescue in European forums that normally tilt against the Jewish state.

The Israelis, meanwhile,...
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