Who Is George Soros and Why Does the Right Keep Picking on Him?

As Dan Nexon, a blogger for “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” points out, Trump, his media allies, and Republican lawmakers have long fueled suspicions that liberal, Jewish philanthropist George Soros is seemingly behind everything they consider evil, from U.S. protesters to the migrant caravan 1,000 miles from the U.S. border. (On Lou Dobbs’s Fox Business show, for example, Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell told Dobbs that the “Soros-occupied State Department” was funding the caravan.] Most recently, in Klamath Falls, Oregon, armed white protestors showed up at a rally to protest the killing of George Floyd, because “they had heard that antifa, paid by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, were being bused in from neighboring cities, hellbent on razing their idyllic town.”

George Soros, born in Hungary in 1930 and a graduate of the London School of Economics, made his money in hedge fund management. He is now a philanthropist with a wide range of interests, like helping kids and medical conditions. He has also backed political causes that promote democratic institutions versus communism and fascism because of his experience growing up in Hungary (a very bad place to be either a Jew or a democrat). (In fact, in Hungary, when Soros was a young boy, over 600,000 Jews were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp where most of them were gassed.  He was lucky to escape, but it wasn’t by “collaborating” with Nazis!)  

George Soros stands in Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 2004. Photo credit: © Daniel Biskup/laif/Redux

So how did he turn into this whipping boy and focus of antisemitic conspiracy theories for the right?  It’s a very unfortunate story actually, because, like hate-filled theories promoted by Trump’s Jewish but anti-immigrant guru, Stephen Miller, whose grandparents ironically immigrated themselves to the U.S. to escape the Nazis, the two guys who manufactured the malignant stories about Soros are also Jewish.  Amazingly enough, they gave a full interview detailing how they made all this stuff up to create a villain as an alternative to Hungary’s authoritarian leader, Viktor Orbán. They were hired to do PR for Orbán, and Hungary has always been a hotbed of antisemitism.  They decided that highlighting a Jewish adversary could bring electoral success. As Steve Bannon said, they enabled Hungary to give birth to “Trump before Trump.”

Swiss economist, expert in Information Warfare, and reporter Hannes Grassegger, who conducted the interview, wrote:

Birnbaum and Finkelstein’s work has provided a new model for attack politics in this era of global division. They designed a master plan for exploiting these divisions that has worked in many different countries and contexts, and helped create a Jewish enemy that the far right has exploited to devastating effect. In 2016, when Trump ran his final TV ad ahead of the election, it came as no surprise that Soros was featured as a member of ‘global special interests’ who don’t have ‘your good in mind.’”

The story gets even more repulsive as Birnbaum and Finkelstein reveal that the person who brought them to the attention of Orbán was another Jew, Bibi Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel!

At first, in 2008, Birnbaum and Finkelstein had helped Orbán win reelection by using the same tactics that had benefitted Netanyahu, targeting the “the bureaucrats” and “foreign capital.” Orbán won again in 2010, but now wanted to rewrite the constitution. He needed a new enemy. Grassegger writes:

‘There was no real political enemy … there was no one to have a fight with,’ Birnbaum remembered. The ultra-right Jobbik party and the Socialist party were beaten, the rest in splinters. ‘We had had an incumbent with a historic majority, something that had never happened in Hungary before.’ To maintain that, they needed a ‘high energy level,’ said Birnbaum. ‘You need to keep the base energized, make sure that on Election Day they have a reason to go out and vote,’ he said. They needed something powerful, like Trump’s ‘Build the Wall!’”

‘It always helps rally the troops and rally a population’ when the enemy has a face, Birnbaum explained. . . . Who could become that enemy in Hungary now that Orbán was in power — and wanted to stay there?'”

Victor Orbán – Copyright REUTERS Bernadett Szabo

The interview goes on to explain how basically Birnbaum and Finkelstein couldn’t believe how easy it was to tap into all the Anti-Semitic sentiment in the country and pile it onto Soros because he was (a) Jewish and (b) rich so a lot of people were willing to believe whatever they made up.

Then Fox News took it and ran with it, because it also helped the American Right to have an enemy to focus on, especially once Hillary was out of the picture.  (Although for the Right, Bill and Hillary are never quite out of the picture.)  The Right started claiming Soros and his money were behind everything, from voting machines, to the campaign against confirming Kavanaugh, to secretly running the State Department, to secretly financing the “caravans” of immigrants.  None of this is remotely true, but it doesn’t need to be, because the Right maintains that facts showing otherwise are actually fictions by the “deep state.”

Birnbaum and Finkelstein defended their actions:

Anti-Semitism is something eternal, indelible,’ said Birnbaum. ‘Our campaign did not make anyone anti-Semitic who wasn’t before. Maybe we were just drawing a new target, not more. I would do it again.’”

 

Grassegger adds:

Despite everything that followed, Birnbaum is proud of the campaign against Soros: ‘Soros was a perfect enemy. It was so obvious. It was the simplest of all products, you just had to pack it and market it.’”

Now, as someone on twitter wrote, “George Soros” is just a code for “an elaborate international Jewish banking and media cabal that has existed since the Middle Ages, runs most of the world, and who wants to kill Jesus and enslave the rest of us.”

When right-wing blogger and activist Mike Cernovich launched a sustained attack on H. R. McMaster, at one point National Security Advisor for Trump, he used Soros as a prop. A cartoon he published, shown below, showed the Jewish Rothschilds controlling a George Soros puppet, which in turn controlled puppets representing McMaster and former CIA director David Petraeus. As Dan Nexon of “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” noted:

The hand labeled ‘Rothschilds’ has since been relabeled ‘Saudis.’ Cernovich told me he changed it because complaints about the cartoon’s anti-Semitism are ‘not a hill to die on,’ and ‘if everybody wants to complain, then fine—I’ll just put the Saudis at the top.’”)

In any event, Tablet Magazine argues that in the US, “many American conservatives oppose Soros not because he’s Jewish. They oppose him because he’s liberal.” And that, to today’s Right, is crime enough.

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