By MARCY OSTER
NEW YORK CITY (JTA) –Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who was targeted by the Hungarian government in what some called an anti-Semitic campaign, has donated $1.1 million to help Budapest prepare for the coronavirus pandemic.
The donation earned praise from the Hungarian capital’s mayor.
“(I)t would be good if, instead of petty and offensive misinterpretations, this aid would be seen by everyone as a generous and noble gesture, as effective help,” Mayor Gergely Karácsony said in a post on Facebook.
The mayor said the donation would be used to help prevent infection and for testing medics and nurses working in outpatient and primary care centers and in the social services.
As of Wednesday, April 1, the number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary stands at 525 and 20 dead. The country is seeing a gradual growth of COVID-19 cases, its chief medical officer said.
Soros, a Holocaust survivor, was the focus of a nasty billboard campaign several years ago by Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban. His private Central European University had to leave Budapest after the Orban government passed legislation that made it impossible for the university to remain in Hungary.
“The COVID-19 pandemic knows no boundaries, not between countries, communities, religions or people. Anyone can become infected, but some of us are more vulnerable than others,” Soros said in a statement quoted by Forbes. “I was born in Budapest, in the middle of the Great Depression, barely a decade after the Spanish Flu left thousands of dead in Budapest. I lived through World War II, the Arrow Cross rule and the siege in the city. I remember what it is like to live in extreme circumstances.”
Soros, a Holocaust survivor, is often featured in right-wing conspiracy theories about Jews controlling the world.