Friday, November 30, 2018

David Aaronovitch writes about George Soros

There are legitimate and illegitimate reasons why some people disagree with the billionaire financier George Soros.

Whether you are pro or any Brexit, I would hope we can all agree that those Brexit supporters who object to a rich man who does not live in Britain and is not a British citizen spending significant amounts of money campaigning against Britain leaving the EU are not necessarily being Anti-Semitic or racist - they would express that opinion regardless of the race of the person spending the money.

Equally it is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that some of the attacks which have been made on him and his Open Society Foundations (OSF)by authoritarian leaders around the world, starting with Vladimir Putin and continued by Victor Orban in Hungary, President Erdogan of Turkey, and many others, has been a classic example of scapegoating by regimes looking for someone else to blame for their failures.

Nor is there any doubt in my mind that some of that scapegoating can reasonably be classified as Anti-Semitic under the IHRA working definition.

Incidentally one of the governments George Soros has criticised, and which has severely criticised him back, is Binyamin Netanyahu's government in Israel, not that you would ever guess that from some of the Anti-Semitic attacks which have been made on him.

There is an interesting article by David Aaronovitch in The Times which you can read here if you are registered to read articles on that paper's website. (They have a paywall, but you can register without charge to be able to read a certain number of articles free of charge.) Aaronovitch argues that in some cases attacks on Soros are reviving old Anti-Semitic tropes.

It ought to be possible to disagree in measured language with the political positions taken by George Soros and OSF without being accused of Anti-Semitism. But Aaronovitch has a point.

The part of the article which for many people will give the most powerful reason to think twice about agreeing with criticisms of Mr Soros is when it lists his enemies.

"Putin doesn’t like Soros. Nor does Erdogan. Nor does Orban. Nor does the deputy prime minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini. Nor does Binyamin Netanyahu. And nor does Donald Trump. Indeed, given that Soros was something of a Reagan Republican, the conversion of the American right to an anti-Soros position is in some ways astonishing as well as alarming. 

This summer, Nigel Farage appeared on Fox News to talk about the protests against Trump’s visit to Britain. Farage was allowed to say, without any challenge, that Soros was trying to “flood Europe” with migrants inan organised attempt on a huge scale to undermine nation states, to undermine democracy, and to fundamentally change the make-up, demographically, of the European continent.Then Farage added,But I tell you something, if you criticise Soros his media friends will accuse you of being an antisemite. It is quite extraordinary and I really feel that in many ways Soros is the biggest danger to the entire western world.To which his interviewer simply replied, 'And he has very deep pockets, as we know'.”

Anyone who has that list of enemies has to have done something right.

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