President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani earlier this week upheld what has become a conservative tradition: attacking billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
“Don't tell me I'm anti-Semitic if I oppose him,” Giuliani, a Roman Catholic, said in an interview with New York magazine that quickly went viral. “Soros is hardly a Jew. I'm more of a Jew than Soros is. I probably know more about — he doesn't go to church, he doesn't go to religion — synagogue.”
Among those who did tell Giuliani he was, at the least, spreading anti-Semitic propaganda, was Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
One of the leading funders of liberal causes around the globe, Soros, 89, has given away more than $32 billion of a personal fortune amassed through investing. His net worth currently is around $8 billion.
Born in Budapest, Hungary, to Jewish parents, he survived the Nazi occupation and emigrated to England in 1947. He studied at the London School of Economics, before emigrating to the U.S. in 1956 and starting a wildly successful hedge fund. In 1979, he founded Open Society Foundations to strengthen democracy around the world.
According to the Capital Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, Soros “personally sets the budget” for Open Society, which has funded liberal groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Center for American Progress, Human Rights Campaign, Media Matters for America, MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood and many others.
“My success in the financial markets has given me a greater degree of independence than most other people,” Soros wrote. “This allows me to take a stand on controversial issues: In fact, it obliges me to do so because others cannot.”
Along the way, Soros’s name has become synonymous with global liberal activism. As a result, many conservatives have anointed him a kind of shadow villain, one who inspires a litany of conspiracy theories.
Among other accusations Giuliani leveled in his interview with writer Olivia Nuzzi, he claimed that Soros “controlled” former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — who was removed by Trump and testified in the House impeachment hearings — and that he was “employing” FBI agents, presumably the ones who investigated Trump’s campaign for alleged connections to Russia.
Trump himself echoed a baseless claim made on social media when he told a reporter in October 2018 that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Soros was funding a Central American migrant caravan seeking asylum in the U.S.
Weeks earlier, the president asserted without evidence that protesters seeking to block Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court were being funded by Soros.
The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2018
While other billionaires, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, also spend their fortunes on a variety of causes, some of them politically sensitive, Soros occupies unique standing among conspiracy theorists, who have even spread the absurd accusation that he was an officer of the Nazi SS — in 1944, when he was 13.
The influence Soros wields, which was evident in the hundreds of millions of dollars he poured into Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain, is the reason he has usurped the Rothschild family in the imagination of anti-Semites as the symbol of the imagined Jewish cabal that rules the world.
After the editor of Christianity Today published a call for Trump to be removed from office, some Trump supporters spread a rumor that the evangelical publication was funded by Soros.
“He’s elected eight anarchist district attorneys in the United States,” Giuliani told New York magazine without naming them. “He’s a horrible human being.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, of the Anti-Defamation League, harshly criticized Giuliani’s comments.
“For decades, George Soros’s philanthropy has been used as fodder for outsized antisemitic conspiracy theories insisting there exists Jewish control and manipulation of countries and global events,” Greenblatt said in a statement to the Daily Beast. “Mr. Giuliani should apologize and retract his comments immediately, unless he seeks to dog whistle to hardcore antisemites and white supremacists who believe this garbage.”
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