Criticism of George Soros isn’t anti-Semitic, conservative Jewish groups say

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Hungarian-born American financier George Soros, founder of the Open Society Foundation, may be Jewish, but many prominent conservative Jews says that legitimate criticism of Soros is not anti-Semitic and completely warranted due to his power and progressive positions. 

In fact, there is substantial opposition to Soros’s views that are by no means uncommon in centrist and right-wing Jewish circles, with the billionaire’s anti-Israel activities at the forefront, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).

Prominent Israeli orthodox rabbi Pesach Lerner says that Soros is only “superficially Jewish” and works against the Jewish people.

“Yes, Soros is part of the Jewish nation, but ideologically he is not merely distant but openly hostile towards Israel and Jewish interests,” Lerner said last December, when when American conservative and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani stated he was more Jewish than Soros. “It is ridiculous to link an accurate critique of the use of Soros’ wealth to influence certain public officials to hateful, anti-Semitic lies about Jewish communal control over government at large.”

Famous right-wing pro-Israeli donor Adam Milstein voiced an even harsher criticism, saying Soros was funding the anti-fascist network Antifa, calling him a “self-hating Jew” and even questioning his Holocaust survival. In 2017, Milstein tweeted and then deleted a picture of Soros depicted as an octopus with his tentacles spreading across the globe.

The American Zionist Organization recently issued a press release calling Soros a “radical anti-Zionist.” The group’s president, Morton Klein also recently tweeted that “condemning anti-Israel extremist George Soros is not anti-Semitic just like condemning racist David Duke is not anti-White.”

Klein says he is not worried about fueling anti-Semitisim, saying that if he was an artist, he would also depict Soros as an octopus spread out across the globe because Soros “has his tentacles all over the place and has enormous influence.”

According to the JTA article, “Klein acknowledged that such an image could echo an anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews, money and power, but said that in Soros’ case it is warranted.”

Despite what Jewish conservatives may believe about Soros, criticism of the progressive billionaire is increasingly frowned upon and even outright censored in some instances in countries such as the US.

Just last week, Fox News hosts cut off prominent conservative Newt Gingrich when he brought up Soros and his funding of progressive District Attorneys in races across the United States, which Gingrich saying these DAs are against law and order and responsible for releasing violent criminals on the streets of the US. The video of the hosts essentially censoring Gingrich for bringing up Soros went viral across the web and led conservatives to question why Soros’s name cannot be mentioned even when pointing to specific policies and facts surrounding his progressive activities. 

Although the host issued an apology, saying they “don’t censor” on the show, Gingrich complained that criticism of Soros is illegitimately tied to claims of anti-Semitism. 

Former Fox News host and conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly also mentioned that it is increasingly difficult to mention Soros due to claims of anti-Semitism and that it is serving as a restriction on discussing Soros’s political activity. 

The issue of Soros has cause consternation in the Jewish conservative community, with the billionaire becoming the face of progressive movements around world through his massive spending through his Open Society Foundation. 

Some experts believe caution is necessary and special care should be given to criticizing Soros, such as University of Michigan professor Josh Pasek, who studies new media and political communication.

“It cannot be the case that all criticism of something Jewish is necessarily anti-Semitic,” Pasek said, but added that “the decision that you want to make it about Soros, even if for you it isn’t about his Jewishness, will almost undoubtedly feed into anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency writes that much of the theories about Soros sprung up in reaction to the 2015 migrant crisis and that “conspiracy theories about Soros have been around for a long time, but they gained momentum during the 2015 refugee crisis in Europe. Soros’ charity network, the Open Society Foundations, donated to groups that helped migrants seeking entry into Europe, and anti-Semites accused Soros of trying to replace Europe’s white residents with Muslim refugees.”

At the time, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán directed criticism at Soros for his pro-migration stance, his support for pro-migration NGOs, and his comments on the crisis, including his belief that Europe should borrow billions of euros to pay for refugees.

Although left-wing news outlets like the Guardian and even Soros himself have tried to paint Orbán’s criticisms as anti-Semitic, the government has adamantly denied this claim, saying it is not anti-Semitic to point to Soros’s activities undermining democratically-elected governments. It also points to the Hungarian government’s steadfast support for Israel and Hungary’s Jewish community

At the same time, comments from Soros such as, “[Europe] has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future” did lend real worries that Soros was participating in population experiments that would affect the demographic future of Europe. 

Soros has become an increasingly popular target for the right within the US, especially due to his activities over the last years, including his recent decision to donate over $50 million to support presidential candidate Joe Biden, however, much of his activities began in Central European countries like Hungary, which underlines his global reach. 

Emily Tamkin, a Jew and the author of the book “The Influence of Soros” says right-wing Israeli Jews are not hesitant to criticize Soros because funding left-wing Israeli groups could also harm Jewish interests there, including Soros’s funding of pro-Palestinian groups. 
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