An Oct. 18th, 2018, Guardian article (“Dripping with poison of antisemitism’: the demonization of George Soros”) called out the demonisation of Soros – a Hungarian-born Jew who survived the Holocaust and donates millions to leftist causes – by politicians and commentators on the US and European right and far-right.
Here are excerpts from the piece:
From the racist white nationalist site the Daily Stormer to major conservative media stars, the right has been increasingly united over the last decade in seeing the hidden hand of Soros, whom they frequently describe as a “globalist”, in all manner of events.
Figures like Alex Jones imagine Soros as the manipulative mastermind of a vast “globalist” conspiracy that seeks to restore the world to elite control, kill millions and reduce humanity to slavery.
Breitbart has published scores of articles on Soros’s alleged influence.
Indeed, advocacy groups like the ADL say that all of the conspiracy theories about Soros frequently use “well-worn antisemitic tropes”. Other experts and activists agree.
Matthew Lyons, a researcher and the author of several books on rightwing populism and far-right ideology, said that commonly circulated narratives about George Soros resonate with a long history of antisemitic myths and stereotypes.
“One of the central antisemitic themes for a thousand years, at least, has been the notion that Jews represent this evil, super-powerful group that operates behind the scenes,” Lyons said
Most of the right – and especially Republicans – customarily deny any link between their attacks on Soros and antisemitism
Whilst civil criticism of Soros for his foundation’s funding of radical groups which attempt to undermine Israel’s legitimacy is fair, it’s also undoubtedly true that he is often vilified by some on the right in a manner which evokes classic antisemitic tropes about Jewish power. As is the case with many antisemitic conspiracy theories, those who obsess over Soros’s financial influence in the world insist that he is the root cause of whatever political phenomena they find undesirable, a myopia which results in a failure to acknowledge other far more important factors influencing events.
However, many commentators and media outlets – such as the Guardian – have a glaring blind spot when it comes to the vilification of another Jewish billionaire, one who’s on the ‘wrong side’ of the political fence: Sheldon Adelson.
A 2012 Guardian article warned darkly of Adelson using his fortune to purchase the outcome of the U.S. elections – this despite the fact that Adelson’s preferred candidate, former Congressman Newt Gingrich, lost the GOP primary. And, in 2015, the Guardian literally cast the decidedly high-profile Jewish billionaire as the “invisible hand” that “controls” Republican politics.
A Jan. 7th, 2019, Guardian article by Christina Binkley represents a good illustration of this double standard in concern over the use of antisemitic tropes:
Even if Guardian readers don’t read the article, the message is clearly conveyed in the headline: Wealthy Jews are “driving” US policy on Israel.
The article is unusual in one respect, in claiming that Sheldon Adelson’s wife Miriam, an Israeli-born naturalized US citizen, is actually the the driving force behind the couple’s political and philanthropic activities, and the main reason why the US president moved the embassy to Jerusalem. However, there’s little if any actual evidence provided to back up this claim. In the nearly 2,000 word piece, there are only a few sentences which even attempt to support the central narrative:
Evidence suggests that she is the driver in the couple’s political and philanthropic activities, whether pushing for the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv or donating an unprecedented $113m to this year’s midterm elections
What “evidence” is there to suggest this? She doesn’t say.
But, Binkley does cite this:
“Everybody says it’s Sheldon, but it’s Miriam,” says Michael Cherry, the associate chief justice of the Nevada supreme court, who sits on the board of the Las Vegas methadone clinic that the Adelsons founded.
Of course, one vague quote from someone who sits on the Board of an Adelson institution is hardly proof that Miriam Adelson “drives” US policy on Israel.
Further in the article, Binkley again asserts, without evidence, that “Miriam…appears to many around her to be the unrecognized ideological force behind many of the couple’s causes…”. However, the Guardian doesn’t say who exactly are the people “around her” making this assertion.
The final paragraph of the article is also meant to buttress the narrative, in citing an op-ed Miriam wrote in Israel HaYom (an Israeli newspaper the Adelsons own) about her experience receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her philanthropic work:
To Miriam and many around her, Trump’s medal caps a lifetime of strident effort. At the ceremony, Kreek sat in the fourth row. Miriam wore a bright red dress she had made for the occasion. She described the experience in a column for Israel Hayom:
“When (Trump) clasped America’s highest civilian honor around my neck, I was euphoric with wonderment and gratitude,” she wrote. She thanked the president for his support in what appeared to be a reference to the US embassy move to Jerusalem. “He knows that one has to stand for what is right, even if that means standing alone.”
It’s perplexing how Blinkley could determine that this is what Adelson was thanking the president for, as the only “thank you” in her op-ed was in the very last sentence – and nowhere did she thank him for his “support”:
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, America. May the spirit of this medal continue to guide you, and us all.
Additionally, we don’t know how Binkley can possibly conclude – with anything approaching certainty – that the op-ed appears to include “a reference to the US embassy move to Jerusalem”.
Moreover, even if that was Adelson’s implicit message: so what? How does this represent evidence that she was the ‘driving force’ behind the embassy decision.
It’s also telling that the article doesn’t explore other factors and influences behind Trump’s Israel-related decisions – such as advice given by his national security and foreign policy advisers, or the simple fact that the overwhelming majority of Republicans support Israel. Also take into account a CNN poll of Republicans showing that 79% approved of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, whilst two-thirds favoured moving the embassy to the city, and it’s not hard to see why Trump’s decision could easily have been motivated, in large measure, by the desire to please his political base.
None of this is to say that political contributions to Trump and the GOP by the Adelsons couldn’t also be a factor behind some of the president’s important decisions, only that the Guardian’s insistence that one or two wealthy Jews are behind his policies is, at best, facile and myopic. At worst, it promotes exactly the kind of antisemitic dog whistles about the ‘injurious’ influence of Jewish power that, when directed at George Soros, their editors and contributors ardently denounce.
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