A QUESTION OF HERITAGE
“I grew up in a Jewish anti-Semitic home,” Soros told acquaintances, according to Robert Slater’s unauthorized biography, which also reports the blue-eyed, blond-haired Soros would “beam“ when other children would tell him, “You don’t look Jewish.”
Later in London, Soros would continue to shun his Jewish heritage, only bringing it up when he felt he could exploit it one way or another. When Soros broke his leg working on the railroad in England, he applied for benefits to the Jewish Board of Guardians. He was already getting some form of workman’s comp benefits from the British government for his on the job injury, but he decided to lie to the Jewish Board anyway, in an attempt to double his money. To some degree this is understandable, if a bit uncouth: A young man low on cash, trying to play the system.
Nevertheless, instead of cutting his losses and walking away when the Board turned him down for payments, he lashed out in a letter, telling the Board he was disappointed to “see how one Jew deals with another in need.” Deceitfully shamed, the Board began weekly payments to Soros, which Soros labels “a great success.” Biographer Michael Kaufman writes, “Only after his leg had completely healed and he had spent the spring break hitchhiking in France did he write his benefactor at the board to tell him he could stop sending the money. For sometime afterward, though, he would receive generous gifts from the board on all the major Jewish holidays,.” and he, no doubt, perceived it as his entitlement. And when his fortunes turned and he made millions, according to former Jewish Board officials, he never returned the favor by contributing to the organization.
Maintaining his intellectualism has also required Soros to immerse himself in a strange cycle of Jewish self-loathing. At a recent speech before the Jewish Funders Network, Soros implied, like Jaques Chiraq, that the recent rise of anti-Semitism in Europe was a result of the policies of George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon – remove them from office and the world will go back to not hating Jews, Soros assured. In fact, in The Bubble of American Supremacy Soros veers into the same conspiracy-theory ramblings that get other public figures into hot water.
One of the “important considerations” in our decision to invade Iraq, Soros contends, much like the rest of the Arab world, was Israel. “A large number of religious fanatics in the United States believe that the rebirth of Israel presages the apocalypse and the second coming of the messiah,” he writes. “Since the apocalypse involves the destruction of Israel, Israel might be better off without friends like this. [But] President Bush…felt obliged to pay attention to his constituency. Establishing a strong military presence in Iraq would help to transform the political complexion of the entire region. This would reassure Israel and weaken the Palestinian extremists.”
Does Soros have an editor? Did anyone bother to tell him that last paragraph follows no logical path whatsoever? First of all, it’s arguable whether evangelicals are a asset or liability in American politics today. But aside from that, if President Bush were attempting to please these folks by hastening the apocalypse, wouldn’t a weaker Israel ripe for “destruction” serve that better than a strong Israel emboldened against her enemies? If we went to Iraq to secure Israel, by Soros’ own logic, we would be pushing the apocalypse back considerably.
He also explained that he regretted his own success had helped further the notion that “Jews rule the world.” This is not a new regret for Soros, who lamented to his interviewer in Soros on Soros that, “If there was ever a man who fit the stereotype of Judo-plutocratic Bolshevik Zionist world conspirator, it is me.” Sadly, this may also tie in with his early life in Nazi occupied Hungary: “I have suffered from the low self-esteem that is the bane of the assimilationist Jew,” he said in the same book. “This is a heavy load that I could shed only when I recognized my success,.” and apparently also by making anti-Semitic remarks.
Soros on several occasions has likened Jewish support for Israel to a “tribal loyalty” he wanted no part of. “I took pride in being in the minority, an outsider who was capable of seeing other points of view,” he wrote in his 1990 book Opening the Soviet System. “Only the ability to think critically, and to rise above a particular point of view could make up for the dangers and indignities that being a Hungarian Jew had inflicted on me.”
These sentiments, of course, tie in with an earlier point. Soros needs, for his own self-validation, to believe he is one of the few people with the answers, a sole hero saving an intellectually stunted world from itself. Can Soros, the brilliant speculator think rationally? As anyone who has perused one of his meandering, unfocused books can tell you, the truth is, his clarity of thought is questionable at best. But does he believe he is on a higher intellectual plane than most people? Absolutely. The only person Soros would probably ever admit had a leg up on him intellectually would probably be the dead Karl Popper. And even that’s not a sure bet.
Soros has now rewritten Middle Eastern history to better jive with his idea of the “poignant and difficult case” of Israel, another nation, like the U.S., of “victims turning perpetrators. Soros, much like the virulent anti-Semitic graphic daily propaganda in the Arab newspapers, is comparing Israel’s self defense against repeated attempts of annihilation by the Islamist/Arab terrorists to Nazi atrocities. The successful defense against terrorism, especially preemptive actions, are is never appropriate in Soros’ book.
His history of how Israel fought for its independence could have been written by Noam Chomsky or Yasser Arafat. “After the war [World War II], Jews resorted to terrorism against the British in Palestine in order to secure a homeland in Israel,” Soros writes in The Bubble of American Supremacy. “Subsequently, after being attacked by Arab nations, Israel occupied additional territory and expelled many of the inhabitants. Eventually, the Arab victims also turned perpetrators, and Israel started suffering terrorist attacks.”
This Soros’ interpretation seriously downplays denies the number of Arab invasions and the brutal tactics used that led Israel to occupy the lands these attacks were launched from in the first place. And as for the “expulsions,” many of those people left of their own accord because of the surrounding Arab nations ordered them to leave, Muslim edicts demanding no interaction with the Jews. The Arab plan was to kill all the Jews as soon as possible and move back. on the land. For this, Jews are apparently getting what they deserve in Soros’ mind. By surviving Arab/Muslim violence all these years, and by defending themselves, the Israeli Jews have brought all these troubles upon themselves.
Soros’ comments did not sit well with quite a few Other public figures: were less than impressed with Soros’ comments as well.
“It’s a warped view of the Holocaust and its aftermath, of Israel, and America,” the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, fumed to The New York Sun. “It’s outrageous. To call it obscenity is not strong enough a word. It is so perverted and so perverse.” The New York Daily News ran an editorial describing Soros as a “man who lacks even a remotely balanced view of history and the nature of evil. He has demeaned the Holocaust and placed moral responsibility for anti-Semitism on its victims rather than its perpetrators.” Even Democratic Representative Eliot Engle Engle also called Soros statements “morally reprehensible” and advised his “hear no evil/see no evil” Democratic brethren that he didn’t think that, “People shouldn’t kiss up to” Soros simply because “he wants to give money.” away.
But at least Soros has in his grace, said he will allow the state of Israel to exist. He told The New Yorker, “I don’t deny the Jews their right to a national existence – but I don’t want to be a part of it.” This bleeds over into the way he runs his foundations. When looking for people for the board of his Moscow foundation, he took a trip with the most promising of them, only to find that, “they were all too old and too Jewish.” Not acceptable, he said. “I mean, you can’t be that Jewish in Russia. So I told them, ‘You can’t have more than one-third Jews on the board.’”
Soros’ vast wealth and the personal stories he tells his own personal story have allowed him to say things people like Pat Buchanan or Howard Dean could never get away with. Remember the fury that befell Dean when he said we needed to be “evenhanded” in the Mideast peace process? Yet Soros writes that we invaded Iraq to some degree on behalf of Israel, and Democrats remain silent. Maybe they didn’t hear he him say said it. Maybe they were in line at the bank waiting to deposit another one of Soros’ massive donations when he went public with that gem.
THE FIRST EGO TRIP
Cash aside, what does it mean to have George Soros’ “Seal of Approval”? And how long is it likely to last? Until well into middle age, Soros vowed he would avoid the “ego trip” of philanthropy, only changing his mind when he came to consider (in his own words), “the pursuit of self-interest as too narrow a base for my rather inflated self.”
Then, suddenly, he reversed course in the 1980s and began funneling support to Charta 77 in Czechoslovakia, and Solidarity in Poland, helping to pave the way for the downfall of communism. This was apparently was an epiphany for Soros, who wrote in Underwriting Democracy that while he had spent the post-World War II era as a “partisan of open society,” he had never been able to “take its superiority for granted because communism had conquered half the world and democracies were hard pressed to resist its encroachments.” Once again, Soros has trouble making a determination of whether something is right or wrong. An evil can become a possible good if it is a victor. Nazism once held a large portion of Europe. Would With this logic Soros may grant that ideology the possibility of superiority over ours simply by virtue of the fact that it had spread so far.? No wonder he can’t stand George W. Bush.
At any rate, during the late 80s and early 90s the fight was against a monolithic ideology, which Soros had determined was flawed. So had most people living inside these countries, and even a good deal of people outside of them, with the notable exception of liberal high society, large parts of the media, and college campuses. Soros had come to the conclusion that anyone fighting communism was fighting for an “open society.” This was good for anti-communists and rebels, who came into a financial windfall.
When asked point blank in Soros on Soros, the financier admitted to becoming cozy with elements in the communist regimes where his foundation was active. “Of course we collaborated: The communists wanted to use me and I wanted to use them,” Soros said. “That was the basis of our collaboration. The big question was who would get the better of the other.” Once again winning was all. A matter of ego was at stake.
But in the aftermath of the Iron Curtain’s collapse, Soros took an ideological turn, and his support since then has gone primarily to left-wing groups. “The people Soros hires are noted for their anti-Thatcherite views,” Oxford University professor Mark Almond told Forbes. “You’d be hard pressed to find a religious dissident or staunch anti-communist in his foundations.” To which Jonathan Sunley of the Windsor Group added in the same article, “Soros is engaged in a one-dimensional ideological laundering of the old Communist/nomenklatura.” Soros himself seemed disinclined to give the free market much of a running start in the recently liberated countries of Eastern Europe. “We thought free enterprise, laissez-faire,” he told the Wall Street Journal in 1994. “The failures in Eastern Europe prove that laissez-faire is a false doctrine.” No. The failures in Eastern Europe proved that communism was a false doctrine. Nobody ever promised the former communist states could be fixed in under five years.
This obvious turn to old leftist elements in Eastern Europe and Russia, not coincidentally, corresponded to his newfound distaste for the “threat” of global capitalism. In Albania, for example, Soros supported a paper that encouraged a coup by a group of ex-Communists, helping to take down a moderately (for the region and time) liberal government. In his native Hungary, Soros handpicked Miklos Vasarhelyi, a former member of the Communist government of Imre Nagy and a one-time Italian fascist, to head the Soros foundation in that country. He was tried by the Soviets after the 1956 uprising alongside his old boss, ending up with the lightest sentence of them all. Although Vasarhelyi repeatedly denied any collaboration with the communists after his stint in jail, Hungarian Communist Party memos make reference to the party’s “influence” over him, going so far as to suggest that if certain dissident speeches were to “get into Vasarhelyi’s hands we would be able to get a hold of them.” While Vasarhelyi fell out of love with hard-line communism many years before, he remained, until his death in 2001, strikingly unfriendly towards liberal ideals. “I was and always am very critical of capitalism,” he told Forbes magazine in 1997.
And what was Soros’ comment on all of this information? “They [as ex-communists] know better what democracy is than perhaps those who were always opposed to the regime,” he told Forbes. It does indeed sound like a reconstitution of the communist nomenklatura when put so bluntly as that. Those who agitate for democracy are at a disadvantage when dealing with George Soros.
When the Forbes piece turned out not to Soros’ liking, he lashed out in Time magazine, calling the piece “nonsense” and fuming, “You had a capitalist fool [Steve Forbes, the magazine’s owner] combining with the nationalist right – a stupid combination.” Yet, Soros’ refused to answer the basic question before him: To what extent was he collaborating with communist elements in these vulnerable societies? And, conversely, to what extent was he shafting the actual pro-democratic elements in those same societies?
Perhaps these attitudes go back further than most suspect. In the Kaufman biography, Soros reminisces about a conversation he had with his father after deciding to leave Hungary. His father was pushing London, but George told him, “I’d like to go to Moscow, to find out about Communism. I mean that’s where the power is.” Soros’ father prevailed in that exchange, but Soros’ interest in going to Moscow seems curious since he was living under Soviet rule in Hungary at the time. These days he uses that experience as a way to beef up his anti-authoritarian bona fides. But apparently, communism the Soviets seemed all right to Soros at the time.
Soros revels in the fact that his cash in unstable countries can buy him much more respect and influence in unstable countries than would normally be the case. For example, Soros said the following of Ukraine in an interview with The New Yorker: “It was a vacuum” with “a great willingness to accept this kind of support, which would in normal times be rather intrusive.,” Soros said. “I mean, I can’t try and do that in America. They would tell me where to get off!” When pressed on the point, Soros exclaimed, “If this isn’t meddling in the affairs of a foreign nation, then I don’t know what is!” Of course, as we shall see, Soros did indeed turn to America shortly thereafter, and has as of yet unfortunately not been told “where to get off.”
In 1997, Soros funded a newspaper in Albania, Koha Jone, which issued clarion call after clarion call to rise up against the elected liberal government. When the coup had been successful, a top official in Soros’ Albanian foundation actually came out and announced that, “[President] Berisha’s going. We got him.” Soros’ definition of “open society,” it became clear, did not always mean the rule of law should be obeyed or that democratic regimes should be left in place. No time for revolution at the ballot box when Uncle George wants something done. Berisha was replaced by a Socialist Party that had “only dropped Marx as the center of its platform” a few months before, according to The Washington Times.
“Now in Albania a few thousand rebels, many of whom had been members of the communist secret police and military officials sacked by Mr. Berisha in the early days of the democratic transition, have taken control of the country with the backing of the Socialist Party in Tirana,” Daniel McAdams wrote in The Washington Times. “The rest of the country lurches toward chaos, as the unarmed and the unaligned now seek weapons to defend themselves against the bands of roving rebels.”
Perhaps Soros is just funding the little guy, promoting that element of dissent all so important to a democracy. The proof escapes this pudding, however. When Soros’ friends are in power, Soros does all he can to make sure they stay in power. An investigation by Forbes magazine, for example, found that once Soros’ Hungary foundation head Vasarhelyi’s old communist cronies were in power, dissent held little value to Soros. “The ADF (Alliance of Free Democrats)-controlled culture ministry and the Soros foundation both subsidize periodicals,” Richard Morais writes. “We matched the most recently published lists of the subsidies and found 77 percent of the periodicals that got major government handouts also received subsidies from the Soros foundation. It seems to us [that] a foundation dedicated to an Open Society would go out of its way to assist periodicals not supported by the government of the day.”
Around the world, Soros has become something of a bogeyman. When Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze was recently ousted, he claimed Soros had overthrown him. Zaza Gachechiladze, editor-in-chief of the Georgian Messenger, concurred. “It’s generally accepted public opinion here that Mr. Soros is the person who planned Shevardnadze’s overthrow,” he said. While Soros did help fund the many public demonstrations and paid full-time activists to agitate, Shevardnadze was brought down mostly by economic collapse and his own political corruption. Soros major role in the event was supporting exit polling that gave victory to the opposition party, even as official results showed Shevardnadze the true victor. Resulting protests led to Shevardnadze’s capitulation.
Such is Soros’ growing reputation. Feared and, powerful, some are coming to the natural conclusion that he is unstoppable. He goads on the idea, naturally. “I’m delighted by what happened in Georgia,” Soros told the L.A. Times, “and I take great pride in having contributed to it.” Indeed. When the Georgian cabinet was announced earlier this year, the now-defunct Russian daily Novye Izvestiya called it the “Soros cabinet,” because of the several million dollars Soros was putting up to raise the salaries of new government officials. None dare call this a payoff, but can we really believe there will be no desire in the new Georgian government to satisfy Soros’ every whim while they are all essentially on his payroll?
Certainly the other countries in the area fail to see how overthrowing an elected government is compatible with democracy. They see a double standard. “No European standards of democracy presume the violent overthrow of presidents which is precisely what happened in Georgia,” Vladimir Zharikhin, the deputy director of the CIS Institute, said, as reported by the Central Asia Report. “Soros’ practices show that he doesn’t increase the amount of democracy in a country; he merely exchanges one set of authoritarian rulers for others who are more obedient to him.” Russian writer Ivan Tregubov was even more blunt: “George Soros demonstrates a heightened concern for democracy, glasnost and ‘openness’ in those countries where he has business interests.” Tregubov scathingly added that Soros, “like Trotsky, promotes permanent revolution across the globe, if under a different flag and with his own money.”
How could Soros deny this? He openly admits that when it comes to making money for his investors he has no morals, no boundaries, and no regrets. Honestly, why should his “philanthropy” be any different at all?
Oxford University professor Mark Almond argued in a British newspaper that these fears, even if they occasionally turn out to be bunk, are indeed justified.
“Given the non-transparent nature of Soros’ Quantum Fund, fears in small states that he could develop an economic monopoly, as well as a quasi-monopoly position in their media and academic life, are not unreasonable, though perhaps unfounded,” Almond wrote. “To allay those suspicions, Soros must do more than talk of the ‘open society.’”
Other countries notice this meddling. Shortly after the Georgian incident, Soros’ foundation was kicked out of Uzbekistan fearing the same sort of Soros power play. The executive director of Soros’ foundation in Kyrgyzstan admitted to the L.A. Times that there was “some kind of apprehension, some suspicion, some caution toward” the foundation in that country with the leadership expressing concerns over “whether we do not have some Trojan horse that is leading to that situation.”
Early into his “philantropic” efforts, Soros told ABC that his fund had become “so enormous” that it didn’t “make sense” to do anything but give the money away. Soros then acknowledged having a problem the vast majority of Americans don’t: “It seems to be easier [to make money than to spend it]. I seem to have a greater facility in making it than in making the right decisions in giving it away.”
Does giving money away erase the amoral nature of how it was earned? Not for everyone.
As the Malaysian Business Times editorialized, “Mr. George Soros thinks he is promoting freedom with his crusade for democracy, but what he is doing is dispensing sorrow to those who are on the receiving end of his non-democratic attacks on currencies.”
And why shouldn’t these countries be afraid of Soros? He is a man who openly believes creating chaos is central to his success in business and elsewhere. He feeds off chaos. In 1990 he complained to the New York Times that his work in Eastern Europe became much more “boring” after the liberation from the communists. “Building is always more effort than destroying,” he said.
Soros also loves homegrown communists, though. In 2000, Soros gave $50,000 to the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), which was founded as a Communist Party defense agency. “The keynote speaker at NLG’s 2003 national convention, Lynne Stewart,” FrontPage Magazine’s Ben Johnson reports, “praised Ho Chi Minh, Mao Tse-tung, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.”
One of the NGL’s most recent reports was an effort to whitewash North Korea, going so far as to actually play the police state off as more just than American society. “We noted that this was not the Orwellian society George Bush and much of the media is [sic.] trying to portray,” the report states. “The contrast between North Korea and its lack of policeman and North America in which armed police in bulletproof vests are commonplace was more than striking – it was startling. If the presence or absence of armed policemen is a criterion for a free society then it speaks volumes about the nature of the two societies.”
This is no joke: At one point the NLG delegation stops for a picnic, and joyfully breaks out into a rendition of “We Shall Overcome” and other “old anti-war and protest songs” for a group of undoubtedly confused North Koreans. “We know that if the contest between the lawyers of each nation were singing that this would have ended with our defeat quite swiftly,” they write. The reader need not worry for the NLG delegation’s self-esteem, though. Every step of the way, the North Koreans willingly stroke the egos of these useful idiots. At one point, a North Korean military official tells the nearly giddy NLG lawyers he is excited to meet them, “because lawyers bare truth and justice in their hearts.”
These are Soros’ kind of people. And isn’t he is the ultimate anti-communist? The very thought would seem a cruel joke to those poor souls languishing in North Korean gulags today. If this “Worker’s Paradise” was so wonderful, why did the NGL delegation come back to cold, cruel America?
And it’s not just the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy that’s got problems with the way Soros’ has handled himself abroad. Some on the left have questioned whether his “philanthropy” is anything but a cover for his own business interests. For example, Neil Clark writing in the New Statesman, comes to the “sad conclusion” that for all “his liberal quoting of Popper, Soros deems a society ‘open’ not if it respects human rights and basic freedoms, but if it is ‘open’ for him and his associates to make money. And, indeed, Soros has made money in every country he has helped to prise ‘open.’” Clark charges that Soros follows a very strict pattern in his philanthropic endeavors, “of advocating ‘shock therapy’ and ‘economic reform,’” only to swoop in “to buy valuable state assets at knock-down prices.”
Clark also has a theory why Soros is so adamant that Bush has got to go:
“Why is he so upset with Bush? The answer is simple. Soros is angry not with Bush’s aims - of extending Pax Americana and making the world safe for global capitalists like himself - but with the crass and blundering way Bush is going about it. By making US ambitions so clear, the Bush gang has committed the cardinal sin of giving the game away. For years, Soros and his NGOs have gone about their work extending the boundaries of the ‘free world’ so skillfully that hardly anyone noticed. Now a Texan redneck and a gang of overzealous neo-cons have blown it…
“Soros knows a better way - armed with a few billion dollars, a handful of NGOs and a nod and a wink from the US State Department, it is perfectly possible to topple foreign governments that are bad for business, seize a country’s assets, and even to get thanked for your benevolence afterwards. Soros has done it.”
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