I don’t know what are your views of the ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). The ADL’s core mission is to fight “anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.”
Some people are big fans of their work. Others sometimes support their work, and at other times believe they go to far in making charges of anti-Semitism, especially with regards to those who criticize the Israeli Government’s actions. And then there are those people who, for whatever reason, hate the ADL’s guts all the time. That’s something I suppose they share with a lot of groups, including the ACLU.
However, the ADL’s defense of George Soros from the vicious smears and mindless, reckless (or intentional) falsehoods that have been inflicted on George Soros by Glenn Beck, I believe has done the country a great service. Here is the statement issued by ADL National Director, Abraham H. Foxman, a survivor of the Holocaust (as is Soros):
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.
While I, too, may disagree with many of Soros’ views and analysis on the issues, to bring in this kind of innuendo about his past is unacceptable. To hold a young boy responsible for what was going on around him during the Holocaust as part of a larger effort to denigrate the man is repugnant.
The Holocaust was a horrific time, and many people had to make excruciating choices to ensure their survival. George Soros has been forthright about his childhood experiences and his family’s history, and there the matter should rest.
Yes, Mr. Foxman, Beck’s claim that Soros sent Jews to the Death Camps is “inaccurate,” to say the least.* It is, in fact a slander of the worst kind, a blood libel, though this time, Beck, a Mormon Christian is linking Soros, a Jew, not with having spilled the blood of Jesus Christ, but with having spilled the blood of his fellow Jews during the Nazi’s reign of terror and genocide. Here’s what Beck said about Soros to which Foxman objected:
“[When he was] 14 years old, he had to help the government confiscate the land of his fellow Jewish friends neighbors. He didn’t grow up in a very Jewish household. His mother was a strong anti-Semite — his words, not mine — but when he had to go over and take the lands from the people…who were being sent to the gas chambers, I can’t imagine what that would do to a teenager, anybody, an adult. Well, what did it do to George Soros? In an interview with Steve Kroft, Soros was asked if he felt guilt at all about taking the property from the Jews as a teenager. He responded, ‘no.’ He also said, ‘I don’t deny the Jews their right to a national existence, but I don’t want to be a part of it.'”
And here’s a video of Beck’s slanders of Soros and his conspiracy theory that Soros is behind a “one world government” to steal elections, bring down the world economy and destroy America.
As examples, Beck cited Soros’ purported roles in the Rose Revolution (Georgia), the Orange Revolution (Ukraine) and the Velvet Revolution (Czechoslovakia), as well as “coups” in Croatia and Yugoslavia. Author Richard Poe then connected Soros’ previous work to Beck’s accusation that Soros’ “target” is the United States.
Unmentioned in Beck’s program, but revealed in Shadow Party, the book Poe co-wrote and which appears to be the source material for a lot of the information being presented by Beck about Soros, is the fact that many of the governments Soros supposedly helped bring down were autocratic ones, often headed by former Communist leaders.
Shadow Party explains that “Soros helped bankroll the ‘velvet revolution’ that hastened the fall of a dying Communist regime and catapulted dissident playwright Vaclav Havel to the presidency of the Czech Republic.” (Shadow Party, p. 231) The Velvet Revolution led to the establishment of Slovakia as an independent nation and eventual inclusion in NATO.
Shadow Party also goes on to note that Soros’ support for the Otpor organization in Yugoslavia helped to bring about the end of Slobodan Milosevic’s reign, and points out that the International Criminal Tribunal later charged Milosevic with crimes against humanity.
Similarly, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine was a non-violent response to a disputed election that involved poisonings and assassination attempts. And the Rose Revolution replaced Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, a former Soviet official, with Mikheil Saakashvili, who Beck himself has heavily praised.
Beck claims that Soros helped to engineer a “coup” in Croatia, but this seems to be a reference to Soros’ opposition to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, who died in office and was replaced by Stipe Mesic. The BBC explained Mesic’s election this way: “He espoused a clean break from Mr Tudjman’s authoritarianism, which had left the country internationally isolated and in economic recession.”
Meanwhile, Beck disappears completely Soros’ role funding anti-Communist dissidents like Poland’s Solidarity movement, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union.
Unfortunately, no one has a platform like Beck has at Fox News to push back against the insidious insinuation and dangerous rhetoric of Glenn Beck. Beck’s show goes out to millions of people everyday who accept what he tells them without question, uncritically ingesting the lies and deceits that Beck tells them. As Digby and myself have recently noted, it is precisely this type of rhetoric which encourages violence against minorities, Democrats, and liberals by unhinged lone wolfs.
The ADL does not have that platform either, but is helpful that an organization that many see as increasingly allied with movement conservatives is condemning outright the irresponsible actions taken by Fox News in allowing Mr. Beck to propagate the worst, most inflammatory lies against a Jewish Holocaust survivor who just happens to be too liberal for Fox News’ tastes. And the fact that Soros is a wealthy Jewish financier who they can fit into a long history of rancid conspiracy theories about an international Jewish plot to take over the world doesn’t hurt either.
Of course, the use of covert racism to demonize the political opponents of the right, and even respected organizations which promote social justice such as the ACLU, ACORN and The Tides Foundation is nothing new. However, George Soros, has long been a target of their bilious attacks. There are other Billionaires, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who have opposed Republican and conservative economic and social policies, but none has come under the relentless attack from the right wing media that Soros has been forced to endure.
So, Thank you Mr. Foxman for taking a stand against this assault on a man who may not share all your political views, but who deserves all of our support from the relentless, demonizing and hateful rhetoric of Fox and its hateful and violence inspiring “Crazed Prophet,” Glenn Beck.
* Soros in his own words about his experience under Nazi occupation:
Soros was thirteen years old in March 1944 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary. Soros worked for the Jewish Council, which had been established during the Nazi occupation of Hungary to forcibly carry out Nazi and Hungarian government anti-Jewish measures. Soros later described this time to writer Michael Lewis:
The Jewish Council asked the little kids to hand out the deportation notices. I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper…It said report to the rabbi seminary at 9 a.m….And I was given this list of names. I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. This was a list of Hungarian Jewish lawyers. He said, “You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported.”
In 1944, at age 14, Soros lived with and posed as the godson of an employee of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. On one occasion, the official was ordered to inventory the remaining contents of the estate of a wealthy Jewish family that had fled the country. Rather than leave the young George alone in the city, the official brought him along. The following year, Soros survived the Battle of Budapest, in which Soviet and German forces fought house-to-house through the city.
fn. 18. Michael Lewis, “The Speculator: What on earth is multibillionaire George Soros doing throwing wads of money around in Eastern Europe?”, The New Republic, January 10, 1994. See also Kaufman, Michael T., Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire, Alfred A. Knopf: 2002, p. 32-33
Ps. More remarks from Mr. Foxman and others about the Beck smears:
The ADL’s Abe Foxman is also a child survivor who lived only because his parents turned him over to his Catholic nanny.
“Look, I spit on Jews when I was six years old,” Foxman told me. “Does that make me an anti-Semite?”
The issue of the Shoah “is so sensitive that I’m not even sure Holocaust survivors themselves are willing to make such judgments,” Foxman went on “For a political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say, there’s a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps, that’s horrific. It’s totally off limits and over the top.”
Beck’s comments “were either out of total ignorance or total insensitivity,” he said.
Elan Steinberg, vice president of the The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, called the Beck accusations “monstrous; you don’t make such accusations without proof, and I have seen no such proof.”
Beck’s charges, he said, “go to the heart of the instrumentalization and trivialization of the Holocaust.” […]
Simon Greer, president of the Jewish Funds for Justice, met with Fox News executives in July to discuss Beck’s “constant and often inappropriate invocation of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany on the air.” […]
Yesterday’s on-air comments by Beck “made a mockery of their professed understanding,” Greer said in a statement. “In an effort to demonize a political opponent, Beck and Fox News scurrilously attacked George Soros, a prominent Jewish philanthropist and Holocaust survivor. No one who truly understands ‘the sensitivity and sacred nature’ of the Holocaust would deliberately and grotesquely mis-characterize the experience of a 13 year old Jew in Nazi-occupied Hungary whose father hid him with a non-Jewish family to keep him alive.”