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by Marc Daalder
ANTISEMITIC CONSPIRACY THEORIES come in an amazing variety, though recently the purveyors of these myths have settled on one target especially: billionaire and progressive donor George Soros. The sources of these attacks span from garden variety internet trolls, to American Congressmen and even Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. And last week, a prominent official from the Christian Zionist organization Christians United for Israel (CUFI) joined this chorus.
Dumisani Washington, the Diversity Outreach Coordinator for Christians United for Israel (CUFI), posted the widely-discredited antisemitic Soros conspiracy theory on his Facebook page, before deleting these posts allegedly at CUFI’s request. In the posts Washington cites Soros’ criticism of Trump and lumps him in with others “who are bitterly opposed to President Trump,” including “feminists, ISIS, Iran, North Korea” and another common antisemitic dog whistle, the “globalists.” Below is a screenshot of Washington’s post.
The notion that Soros was a Nazi collaborator is false, and a common antisemitic canard. Below Washington responds to a comment on the post.
As mythbusting website Snopes helpfully explains, while in hiding from the Nazis, a young George Soros pretended to be the Christian godson of a local government official who at times confiscated property from Jews. On one occasion, the official did take Soros with him on a trip to appraise a Jewish house, but being 14 years old, Soros had no role in this.
The Soros conspiracy theory has a long history, dating back to a 1990s TV interview in which this story came out – at the time, no one cared. Attacks against Soros grew as he became increasingly involved in liberal political causes. In 2010, conservative radio host Glenn Beck called Soros a Nazi collaborator – bringing the Jewish establishment, including the Forward and the ADL under Abe Foxman, out in force. Foxman said in a statement at the time that “Glenn Beck’s description of George Soros’ actions during the Holocaust is completely inappropriate, offensive and over the top. For a political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say – inaccurately – that there’s a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps, as part of a broader assault on Mr. Soros, that’s horrific.”
In October, the alt-right has resurrected George Soros as an all-purposes Jewish billionaire bogeyman. He has been accused of paying left-wing protesters to disrupt rallies by Donald Trump, as both a candidate and a President. More recently, a Republican congressman landed himself in hot water for intimating that Soros funded the August 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA.
The Soros conspiracies also echo more nebulous stereotypes weaponized against Jews by Nazis. Soros is frequently framed in the mold of the wealthy Jew controlling national and even global politics. Accusing him of being a Nazi collaborator intimates that he doesn’t care at all about his own people – that he, like all Jews, is a purely selfish being. Washington’s addition to the conspiracy literature, that Soros “got rich doing it,” ties into this latter stereotype as well.
The war on Soros has an international dimension too. In Hungary, the billionaire is the target of a nationwide poster campaign targeting migrants and blaming Soros for their influx. Local Jewish groups say this campaign “evokes memories of the Nazi posters during the Second World War.” Many posters have been defaced with antisemitic graffiti. In July, the Israeli ambassador to Hungary condemned the campaign, saying it “not only evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear.” The Israeli government later walked back its statement ahead of a visit to Budapest by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
When challenged in the comments on his public post, Washington responded by saying that “Soros comes from an antisemitic Jewish family,” citing a joking comment made by Soros in a decades-old interview. In a response to a now-deleted comment, Washington said that Soros “admittedly has no regret or remorse, and offer [sic] Jewish leaders have called him a Nazi sympathizer. That your [sic] offended by that is irrelevant to me.”
In an email, Christians United for Israel told Jewish Currents that “CUFI rejects the comment made on Pastor Washington’s personal Facebook page and, at CUFI’s request, the comment has been removed.” Spokespeople from CUFI later clarified that this statement refers to all of Washington’s remarks.
The day after his post about Soros, Washington brought the issue up again, writing that every time he mentions the billionaire, “someone attempts to accuse me of antisemitism […] and they always get blocked….” His Facebook page has since been made private, so Jewish Currents could not ascertain whether this comment too has been removed.
Washington did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Marc Daalder is a student at Amherst and a journalist who has written on Jewish issues for the Jewish Daily Forward, where he’s a Scribe contributor, New Voices magazine, and In These Times, among others.