(JTA) – The chairman of the board of the Israeli American Council tweeted and then deleted an antisemitic image of George Soros as a multi-tentacled monster. “Yesterday, the origins of an old antisemitic cartoon that has some similarity to the image I used, was brought to my attention and I removed the Soros tweet,” Adam Milstein said in an email to JTA. “I’ll try to be more careful in the future.” On Oct. 19, pro-Palestinian activists had pointed out the use of the picture – a head shot of Soros atop a multi-tentacled creature strangling the globe. It referred to the recent decision by Soros, a Jewish hedge fund billionaire, to donate much of his fortune to Open Society, the institution he founded several decades ago to promote democracy.
Soros, who in recent years has backed groups critical of Israeli government policy, has become a bugbear for the pro-Israel right. In his deleted tweet, Milstein said the $18 billion that Soros’ gift would be “used for civil unrest, dividing Americans and suppressing free speech.” Antisemites also regularly attack Soros, who they see as part of a Jewish conspiracy to manipulate foreign markets and governments. The image Milstein shared has been appearing on dozens of antisemitic and pro-Russian websites since at least 2015. The image of Jews as tentacled creatures controlling the globe is a classic antisemitic trope, and has appeared in Nazi literature and in the postwar era in cartoons published in the then-Soviet Union and the Arab world.
Milstein told JTA he was focused on the IAC conference taking place next month in Washington, D.C. “I didn’t personally select that image,” he said of the tweet. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair last month removed a similar cartoon of Soros following complaints that it was antisemitic.