By Bernie Farber
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Source: Rami Al-zayat/Unsplash
Vermin, apes, monkeys, the “tribe,” Abie, Hymie, k*ke. These and other epithets are just some of the slurs Jews have faced and still do. Now, add to the list “George Soros.”
George Soros? How does the name of a Jewish billionaire philanthropist now become an antisemitic term?
Some background is needed: Soros was born in Hungary. He was 14 at the end of the Second World War, a survivor of the Nazi invasion that saw hundreds of thousands of his countrymen shipped to the camps in mere weeks.
In 1947, the remnants of the Soros family moved to the U.K., where George’s world opened. He earned a master’s degree in science from the London School of Economics and later, a PhD from the University of London.
From universities to merchant banking, Soros had a head for business, which he put to good use after immigrating to the United States in 1956. His fortunes grew exponentially. From mercantile banking, to managing hedge funds, and developing lauded economic theories and fund building, Soros became one of the richest men in the world.
Many of his views on humanity, charity and social justice were woven into his very being as a result of his harrowing wartime experience.
In the last few decades, through the development of his Open Society Foundation, Soros has provided grants to numerous progressive and human rights causes and initiatives. This has put him squarely in the sights of right-wing conspiracy theorists and lately, even mainstream Conservative politicians in both Canada and the United States who have begun invoking his name to deride liberal and progressive voices that promote civil rights issues and social healing.
On the more extreme end are the likes of QAnon, which pushes the theory that Soros is part of a global plot by elites to engineer a “New World Order.” His religion feeds the centuries-old antisemitic canard of Jews working stealthily toward world domination through control of the financial system, governments, and even Hollywood.
It has even been alleged that Soros has been responsible for initiating COVID-19 -- because in the minds of covid conspiracy believers, contact tracing enables global surveillance. In some circles, they believe Soros funded protests following the murder of George Floyd to sow discord, while bankrolling the Black Lives Matter movement in order to disrupt the status quo.
Laire Lightner, an infamous network marketer, posted to her 84,000 Facebook followers -- that number has since grown to over 119,000 -- that “Soros’ #1 goal in life is to destroy America so that globalists can take over. He funds the #BLM movement & riots happening across the nation every time the globalists decide they need a new race war started.”
Other lesser lights reposted a provably fictitious 2014 statement claiming to come from Soros: “I’m going to bring down the United States by funding Black Hate groups. We’ll put them into a mental trap and make them blame white people. The Black community is the easiest to manipulate.”
There is sadly much more, and while most of this nonsense does not mention Soros’ Jewish heritage, the conspiracies swirling around him form a gateway to antisemitism, the U.S. Anti-Defamation League has said. This is especially true today, when lies, fraud, and outright drivel can be so easily spread through social media.
Indeed, Twitter was ablaze following the Floyd murder, with abundant examples pointing fingers at Soros.
“Antifa are on the payroll of the Jewish financier George Soros who often uses these paid thugs to intimidate any opposition towards the status quo that he and his Zionist allies have set up to control us,” said one.
Another claimed, “George Soros is paying for this [riots following Floyd murder] he is a Jew America bows to the Jew [sic].”
In Canada, one has to wonder why Barrie Conservative MP John Brassard, with a plethora of put-downs available to him under parliamentary rules, chose to heckle using Soros’ name when the speaker was Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland (who had interviewed Soros years before.) When BC Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay re-tweeted a video of Freeland speaking to Soros that came from a conspiracy-peddling source, Findlay added that Freeland’s closeness with Soros should alarm every Canadian because she listened to him “like student to teacher.”
Findlay later apologized.
History tells us that antisemitic conspiracy theories can have dreadful consequences. All of us, and most especially elected officials, need to demonstrate better judgment and more knowledge of how anti-Jewish dog whistles drive hatred.