Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and maybe-maybe-not still personal lawyer of Donald Trump, had a rough holiday season. Just before Christmas, New York magazine published an interview with Giuliani by writer Olivia Nuzzi over the course of many bloody marys. As the alcohol flowed, Giuliani started complaining about George Soros, who's reached boogeyman status among Republicans for being one of the few billionaires to fund liberal causes. Giuliani was particularly incensed that its considered anti-Semitic to accuse Soros of anti-Semitic tropes, telling Nuzzi, "Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him. 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. He doesn’t belong to a synagogue, he doesn’t support Israel, he’s an enemy of Israel."
Soros was born to a Jewish family in Hungary during the Nazi occupation, and his family reportedly passed him off as the Christian godson of a government official in order to escape persecution. In the interview, Giuliani added that Soros is "a horrible human being," claimed he was in control of the impeachment against Trump, and made the bizarre accusation that Soros was "employing the F.B.I. agents."
Condemnation for Giuliani's comments came swiftly. The American Jewish Committee, an advocacy group, tweeted, "No, Mayor, you're not 'more of a Jew than Soros.' You're entitled to your views, and to denouncing his. But it's offensive to deny anyone's faith, and worse to endorse classically antisemitic conspiracy theories." In a statement to the Daily Beast, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote:
"Mr. Giuliani’s assertion that George Soros controls US Ambassadors, employs FBI agents and is 'hardly a Jew' is baffling and offensive. Let’s be crystal clear: Mr. Giuliani is not the arbiter of who is Jewish and who is not, or what is anti-Semitic and what is not. For decades, George Soros' philanthropy has been used as fodder for outsized anti-Semitic conspiracy theories insisting there exists Jewish control and manipulation of countries and global events. Mr. Giuliani should apologize and retract his comments immediately, unless he seeks to dog whistle to hardcore anti-Semites and white supremacists who believe this garbage."
Meanwhile, Giuliani contacted Nuzzi to accuse her of—well it's not clear of what exactly. Nuzzi tweeted, "I just got off the phone with Rudy Giuliani, who decided to call me to yell at me after he read 'five paragraphs' of my story. He told me, 'it’s useless to talk to you. You’re a lost cause.' He then talked to me for another six minutes and said he’d go read the rest of the story."
For his part, Giuliani defended himself by doubling down. He told NBC News, "I'm more Jewish than half my friends," and online he doubled down on the claim that any criticism of Israel counts as anti-Semitism, tweeting: "Soros has funded many enemies to the state of Israel, including groups that support BDS, whose ultimate goal is to destroy the Jewish homeland. Those who oppose these groups are not only better Jews, but better people than him. Most certainly not antisemitic."
Trump himself has promoted conspiracy theories about Soros, especially when they dovetail with his administration's white nationalist and anti-immigrant policies. In 2018, for example, Trump claimed he "wouldn't be surprised" if Soros was paying people to migrate to the U.S.
The former New York City mayor once polled as the most popular politician in America—of either party. Today, he’s at the center of the scandal that threatens to bring down a presidency.
Originally Appeared on GQ