On January 27, 2011, designated by the UN as “Holocaust Memorial Day,” 400 rabbis placed an ad in the Wall Street Journal in the form of an open letter to Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of the News Corporation, requesting that Glenn Beck be “sanctioned” for “his unscrupulous attacks on a survivor of the Holocaust” (George Soros) and that Roger Ailes, president of the Fox News Channel, apologize for his insensitivity in asserting that NPR is “the left-wing of Nazism” and for saying that there are “some left-wing rabbis who basically don’t think that anybody can use the word Holocaust on the air.” Undoubtedly, there is insensitivity in characterizing one’s political opponents as Nazis. Israelis are rightly indignant when Palestinians and their allies, both Muslim and non-Muslim, characterize them as such. Nevertheless, the description by 400 rabbis of George Soros as a Holocaust survivor is, to say the least, astounding. Soros has publicly admitted collaborating with the Nazis at age 14 to stay alive, an understandable motive. Nevertheless, Soros was no Holocaust survivor. If readers wish to get a glimpse of what it was like to be a Holocaust survivor, I suggest they reread Elie Wiesel’s harrowing memoir, Night.
Although one can possibly understand Soros’s behavior in Nazi-occupied, Jew-hunting Budapest, Soros himself has described those years as “the most exciting time of my life.”[i] He has also reported that, “The early stages of the Russian occupation were as exciting and interesting-in many ways even more interesting and adventurous-than the German occupation…”[ii] Can anyone imagine Elie Wiesel, a genuine Holocaust survivor, uttering such sentiments? One might also ask why 400 rabbis would offer even an implicit defense of Soros against Glenn Beck’s attack, given Soros’s lifelong hostility to Israel and his publicly stated disdain for the Jewish religion. A multi-billionaire financier, during one period, 1994 to 2000, Soros contributed no less than $2.4 billion to, among others, institutions and causes in China, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, the Czech Republic, and the Republic of Georgia. At the same time, his attitude toward the State of Israel has been consistently negative. He told New Yorker writer, Connie Bruck, “’I don’t deny the Jews their right to a national existence — but I don’t want to be part of it.” [iii] Clearly, Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes, and Rupert Murdoch, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, have given more support to Israel than Soros. Moreover, Soros recently accused Israel of being “the main stumbling block” to American attempts to foster Egypt’s “public demand for dignity and democracy” which he suggested was embodied in the partnership of Mohamad El-Baradei and the newly moderate Muslim Brotherhood.
Finally, there is the issue of the ad’s sponsor, the Jewish Funds for Justice. In 2009, the organization received a grant from Soros’s Open Society Institute in the amount of $150,000; in 2010 the organization received $200,000 “To support the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing, a national intermediary that increases funding for youth organizing groups and develops strategies to promote to funders the importance of investment in the leadership of low-income youth of color in social justice organizing.”
Undoubtedly, there are elements in American society that regard as urgent “social justice organizing” of the “leadership of low-income youth of color.” Nevertheless, this writer is old enough to recall the use of religious organizations, both Christian and Jewish, by left-wing radicals and their politically somnolent fellow travelers for their own purposes. In view of the multiplicity of hazards confronting Israel and America at this time, can the stated objective of the grant or the expenditure of funds for a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal be regarded as a prudent allocation of resources? I would guess that many of the rabbinic signatories to the letter are among the politically somnolent and have been taken.
Richard L. Rubenstein is President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Religion at the University of Bridgeport and Lawton Distinguished Professor of Religion Emeritus at Florida State University. He is the author of numerous books including “Jihad and Genocide.” This article first appeared in The Iconoclast, www.newenglishreview.org.