The Soros Demonization
Dear Group, In Monday's post, "The Soros Meme" (which you can read here), I reviewed aspects of George Soros' life history that made him a convenient target. But how does a Hungarian/American jewish financier who spends his money fostering democratic values in Europe and the U.S. become the all purpose boogeyman of nationalists, racists, and even (in the U.S.) run-of-the-mill Republicans? The answer lies with the right wing nationalist prime minister of Soros' native Hungary, Viktor Orbán, and two American Republican political consultants, Arthur Finkelstein and George Birnbaum. Finkelstein, who died in 2017 at age 72, has been celebrated among Republican/Libertarian political strategists since the 1960s and Richard Nixon. The following lengthy quote is from an article entitled The Unbelievable Story Of The Plot Against George Soros (a great read if you have the time): It was back then [the 1960s] that Finkelstein started developing a political method that now reads like a how-to guide for modern right-wing populism. Finkelstein’s premise was simple: Every election is decided before it even begins. Most people know who they will vote for, what they support, and what they oppose. It’s very difficult to convince them otherwise, Finkelstein believed. It’s a lot easier to demoralize people than to motivate them. And the best way to win is to demoralize your opponent’s supporters. That’s what Trump did to great effect against Hillary Clinton, and what he meant when, after the election, he thanked black Americans for not voting. Finkelstein had long been studying the big political trends, and he settled on simple issues that could do the most damage. In the end, he noticed, it usually comes down to the same concerns: drugs, crime, and race. These are the issues that create the most political division, he wrote in a memo to the Nixon White House in 1970. Finkelstein’s goal was to polarize the electorate as much as possible, to pitch each side against the other. The fuel: fear. “The danger has to be presented as coming from the Left,” a 25-year-old Finkelstein advised Nixon. Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu (current prime minister of Israel) hired Finkelstein as a political consultant in 1996. Using Finkelstein's signature smear tactics, Netanyahu came from 20 point deficit to squeak out a win against Shimon Peres, Yitzak Rabin's successor following Rabin's assassination. Today Netanyahu is serving in his fourth Israeli premiership. Netanyhu's views on many issues, including immigration, are parallel to those of Donald Trump. Netanyahu is known for having warm relationships with Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Silvio Berlusconi, and Trump. In 1998 Finkelstein invited a younger jewish american political consultant, George Birnbaum, to join forces with him. Together they applied Finkelstein's formula for other hard right candidates in eastern Europe. Netanyahu recommended them to his friend Viktor Orbán of Hungary. There Finkelstein and Brinbaum engineered an "electoral masterpiece" for Orbán's 2014 re-election campaign. Finkelstein and Brinbaum needed a boogeyman: Finkelstein had an epiphany. What if the veil of the conspiracy were to be lifted and a shadowy figure appear, controlling everything? The puppet master. Someone who not only controlled the “big capital” but embodied it. A real person. A Hungarian. Strange, yet familiar. That person was Soros, Finkelstein told Birnbaum. Birnbaum was mesmerized: Soros was the perfect enemy. At the beginning, it almost didn’t make sense. Why campaign against a nonpolitician? Although he was born in Hungary, Soros hadn’t lived there in years. He was an old man, known all over the country as a patron of civil society. He had supported the opposition against the Communists before the fall of the Iron Curtain, and financed school meals for kids afterward. In Budapest, he had built one of the best universities in Eastern Europe. [This extended quote also comes from The Unbelievable Story Of The Plot Against George Soros. I again recommend reading the entire article.] Soros had spent money defending "...everything the right was against: climate protection, equality, the Clintons. He opposed the second Iraq War in 2003, even comparing George W. Bush to the Nazis, and became a major donor for the Democrats. He was soon a hate figure for the Republicans." His Open Society Foundations worked in support of liberal democracy in a series of countries in which Finkelstein and Birnbaum were hired by the hard right. The Soros meme grew internationally and took on a life of its own. Soros jewish background fit easily into the old anti-semitic conspiracy theories. In Hungary: In the fall of 2017 the administration conducted a “national consultation.” Millions of citizens received questionnaires, in which they could choose whether or not they supported the “Soros plan” to allow a million people from Africa and the Middle East to enter Europe per year. It worked. A huge part of the country turned against Soros. Orbán won in 2014 and 2018, both times with an overwhelming majority. Soros sadly maligned persona lives on the lips and in the minds of Republicans in Spokane, most of whom have no idea of Soros' life, A group has swallowed the dishonest propaganda of two jewish american political consultants most of us have never heard of. Finkelstein and Birnbaum touched off a campaign of distortion and lies that would have made Joseph Goebbels smile. Keep to the high ground, Jerry P.S. For a fascinating further look at this subject listen to Chris Hayes' Why is the Happening Podcast entitled Tracing the roots of anti-Semitism with Deborah Lipstadt.