11 March 2019

George Soros – the Spider at the Centre of World Jewish Conspiracy

Despite accusing their enemies of ‘anti‑Semitism’ both Zionists and the Alt-Right share a common foe in the ‘Puppet Master’

For some years now George Soros, the billionaire speculator and liberal philanthropist who bet against the Pound and forced it out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday, has occupied a position akin to the all-knowing, all–controlling Jewish leaders of the Czarist’ forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Soros is, in the eyes of these conspiracists, the Jewish spider at the centre of an extensive web of liberal and globalist organisations.
Soros’s crime has been not to be a run of the mill, off the wall, right-wing billionaire in the mould of Breitbart’s funders, the Mercers or the Jewish billionaires Sheldon Adelson, supporter of Netanyahu and Trump or Haim Saban a Clinton supporter.
Soros founded the Open Society Foundation which operated in Eastern Europe in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Soros has funded a variety of liberal causes, including human rights organisations in Israel such as B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. This incurred the wrath of the Israeli Right and Netanyahu.
Netanyahu and Shimon Peres, who he beat for the post of Prime Minister in 1996
Soros became the symbolic target for all those who sought to cover their anti-Semitism with support for Israel. A good example of this phenomenon was Steve Bannon, Trump’s former Special Advisor and ex-editor of Breitbart. In his book Fire & Fury Michael Wolf notes that Jared Kushner came to the conclusion that Bannon was an anti- Semite.’ Why?
‘Because one of Bannon’s accusations against Kushner, the administration’s point person on the Middle East, was that he was not nearly tough enough in his defense of Israel.

Soros's puppets
There is a certain irony that anti-Semites attack Jews for not being pro-Israel enough but the anti-Semites love of Israel has nothing to do with love of Jews and everything to do with support for Israeli hatred of Arabs. Bannon himself had objected to his children going to school with ‘whiny Jewish brats.’
The same was true of Glenn Beck, a Fox News presenter. Beck devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about bankers, including the Rothschilds and he hosted  G. Edward Griffin, a conspiracy theorist who believes that the Protocols “accurately describes much of what is happening in our world today.”
Beck was eventually sacked from his job at Fox because of his increasingly crazy anti-Semitic conspiracy theories but not however before he had broadcast two programmes about Soros the puppet master’.
Soros's tentacles extend right round the globe 
On the June 4 Glenn Beck Program, Beck praised Elizabeth Dilling whose 1936 book, The Red Network: A “Who’s Who” and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots, declared that ‘the problem of the large number of revolutionary Russian Jews in Germany doubtless contributed toward making Fascist Germany anti-Semitic.” Her belief that ‘Talmudic Judaism is the progenitor of modem Communism and Marxist collectivism’ is a classic Nazi theme. Dilling’s third book, The Octopus, published in 1940, emphasized the Jewish-communist conspiracy, the key component of the Nazi world outlook.
Dilling, spoke of “Ike the kike” and Kennedy’s New Frontier as the “Jew Frontier.” None of this prevented Beck being given the rare privilege of being invited to address Israel’s Knesset. Beck’s reception was akin to a “rock concert.” MK Michael ben-Ari, a Kahanist (who had previously torn up a copy of the New Testament) said, after Beck had addressed the Knesset, “I think Glenn Beck should take my seat in the Knesset.”  Like most anti-Semites Beck combined support for Zionism and Israel with hatred of Jews.
The Puppet Master
Puppet-master is a phrase that the Sun –on-line, also from the Murdoch stable, used to describe Soros before it was taken down. Even Daniel Sugarman, a journalist on the Zionist Jewish Chronicle managed to figure out that this was a ‘disgusting anti-Semitic trope’ emboding the traditional stereotype of the all-controlling Jewish financier.
Soros as the Devil
One of the most disgusting allegations was that Soros, a child hood survivor of the Hungarian Holocaust, helped send fellow Jews to the gas chambers. In fact Soros was just 14 and hiding out under an assumed name in Budapest, masquerading as a Christian. See George Soros wasn't a Nazi, he was a 14-year-old Jew who hid from them There were Jewish collaborators in Hungary such as the leader of Hungarian Zionism, Rudolf Kasztner, who was later declared by Judge Benjamin HaLevi the Jerusalem District Court as ‘having sold his soul to the devil.’ Soros was not amongst them.
Soros has managed to achieve the feat of alienating both the Zionists and the far-Right which, when you think of it, is not such a difficult task. His liberal politics are anathema to both.
Poster of Soros with Dirty Jews scrawled on it
Posters attacking George Soros in 2018
In Hungary in June 2017 Soros became the focus of a government poster campaign whose slogan was ‘"Don't let Soros have the last laugh’. The instigator of this campaign was Prime Minister Viktor Orban."
When the Israeli Ambassador to Hungary, Yossi Amrani, in response to protests from the local Jewish community, criticised an anti-Semitic poster campaign targeting Soros, because of his support for asylum seekers and refugees, he was overruled  by Netanyahu who also doubles as Israel’s Foreign Minister. Instead Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement attacking Soros!
The triumph of Dreyfus - antisemitic cartoon on the acquittal of Dreyfus
“Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred. This was the sole purpose of the statement issued by Israel’s ambassador to Hungary,”
the statement went on.
“In no way was the statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”
In other words, because Soros had funded Israeli human rights organisation Orban’s anti-Semitic campaign was legitimate!
Shortly after this poster campaign ended, in July 2017, Netanyahu visited Hungary on a state visit. It was an ‘illiberal bromance’ As Ha’aretz noted there were many parallels between Netanyahu and Orban:
Both men first came to power in the 1990s... Both lost an election after only one term in office and then spent nearly a decade in opposition. Both subsequently returned to the Prime Minister’s Office and have since won three consecutive elections using xenophobia, a siege mentality and the weakness of their liberal-left rivals to perpetuate and deepen their hold on power.
The following year Orban paid a state visit to Israel.  The visit was marked by the statutory visit to Yad Vashem, the Zionist Holocaust propaganda museum. The visit was picketed by survivors of the Holocaust.
If Yad Vashem had any integrity they would have closed their doors to a man who described Admiral Horthy, the  pro-Nazi wartime leader of Hungary as an exceptional statesman’. Horthy presided over the deportation to Auschwitz of nearly ½ a million Hungarian Jews. There is little doubt that he could have prevented these deaths if he had wanted to. On July 7th he finally ordered an end to the deportations after massive world pressure on him to do so following a heavy US bombing raid on Budapest five days previously.
In April 2018 there was a General Election which Orban’s party, Fidesz easily won. The campaign had been an anti-Semitic one throughout, summed up by Orban’s description of his enemies:
“They are not national, but international; they do not believe in work, but speculate with money; they have no homeland, but feel that the whole world is theirs,”
It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to work out who this was aimed at. Yet the anti-Semitism of Orban and his Fidesz party has not deterred Netanyahu or most Israelis. To Netanyahu and the Israeli government Soros represents ‘the wrong sort of Jew’ and although he is an anti-Semite Orban is the right sort, who loves Israel even if he isn’t over fond of Jews. There is little doubt that Netanyahu’s hatred of Soros is as great if not greater than that of Orban.
In a curious incident Netanyahu’s son, Yair, posted an anti-Semitic cartoon online depicting Soros as the puppet master, complete with the lizards that are David Icke’s motif. The neo-Nazi Daily Stormer promptly applauded declaring itself the ‘The World’s #1 Yair Netanyahu fansite’. David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK also extended his appreciation. One can assume that Yair’s hatred of Soros derives from his family’s table talk.
When it was revealed that Soros was funding the anti-Brexiteers then the papers who had been waxing lyrical about Labour’s ‘anti-Semitism’ didn’t hesitate to mount genuinely anti-Semitic attacks against Soros. The Sun attacked him as a ‘Puppet Master’ The Telegraph was little better with a headline George Soros, the man who 'broke the Bank of England', backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.
You might have thought that the misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which has devoted literally hundreds of articles to Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘anti-Semitism’ and which can sniff out anti-Semitism in the same way that police dogs can detect explosives was uncharitably kind. Today’s article in the Daily Telegraph about George Soros’ intervention in British politics is not antisemitic, but editors chose their headline poorly. The CAA went on to describe the article as ‘innocuous’ .
Of course if The Telegraph had been known as a supporter of the Palestinians you can be sure that the CAA would waxed lyrical about its anti-Semitism.  But as they say ‘hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue.’
Below is an interesting article from Buzzfeed News about the source of the attacks on Soros and the work of an Israeli political consultant George Birnbaum in creating the campaign against Soros and beneath that an article on the history of theories of Jews as puppet masters.
Tony Greenstein
How two Jewish American political consultants helped create the world’s largest anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
Hannes Grassegger Posted on January 20, 2019, at 9:57 a.m. ET
The glass tower that houses George Soros’s office in Manhattan is overflowing with numbers on screens, tracking and predicting the directions of markets around the world. But there’s one that’s particularly hard to figure out — a basic orange chart on a screen analyzing sentiment on social media.
The data, updated regularly since 2017, projects the reactions on the internet to the name George Soros. He gets tens of thousands of mentions per week — almost always negative, some of it obviously driven by networks of bots. Soros is pure evil. A drug smuggler. Profiteer. Extremist. Conspiracist. Nazi. Jew. It’s a display of pure hate.
The demonization of Soros is one of the defining features of contemporary global politics, and it is, with a couple of exceptions, a pack of lies. Soros is indeed Jewish. He was an aggressive currency trader. He has backed Democrats in the US and Karl Popper’s notion of an “open society” in the former communist bloc. But the many wild and proliferating theories, which include the suggestion that he helped bring down the Soviet Union in order to clear a path to Europe for Africans and Arabs, are so crazy as to be laughable — if they weren’t so virulent.
Soros and his aides have spent long hours wondering: Where did this all come from?
Only a handful of people know the answer.
On a sunny morning last summer, one of them could be found standing in front of the huge buffet in the Westin Grand Hotel in Berlin. George Birnbaum is built like a marathon runner — tall and slender, his head and face shaved clean. Elegant horn-rimmed glasses frame his piercing blue eyes.
Birnbaum — a political consultant who has worked in the US, Israel, Hungary, and across the Balkans — had agreed to talk for the first time about his role in the creation of the Soros bogeyman, which ended up unleashing a global wave of anti-Semitic attacks on the billionaire investor. But he also wanted to defend his work, and that of his former mentor and friend, Arthur Finkelstein.
George Eli Birnbaum was born in 1970 in Los Angeles, where his family moved after fleeing Nazi Germany. His grandfather was shot by the Nazis in front of his son, Birnbaum’s father, who later survived Auschwitz. Anti-Semitism followed the family as they moved to Atlanta, where Birnbaum grew up, and where the Jewish school he attended was often defaced with anti-Semitic slurs. It left a mark.
In an era when many American Jews drifted away from their specific identity, Birnbaum wasn’t allowed to forget it. Every weekend his father handed him the Jerusalem Post.
 First you learn what’s going on with the Jewish people in the world, then you can worry about the rest of the world,” Birnbaum remembered his father saying. He grew up believing that only a strong nation, the state of Israel, could protect the Jews from a second Holocaust.
All of which makes it bizarre that Birnbaum and Finkelstein’s ideas spawned a new wave of anti-Semitism, and that they did so in the service of an authoritarian leader, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, reviled around the world for his far-right views. The two men took all the arguments against Soros, from East and West, from left and right, and fused them together. Two American Jews, one a towering figure in US politics, helped create a monster.
Birnbaum doesn’t appreciate the irony, but there is little doubt he played a crucial role in the weaponizing of anti-Semitism.
And he did it by putting Soros on the chopping block.
Starting in 2008, Birnbaum and Finkelstein worked in secret to get Orbán elected. Their victory in Hungary — away from the intense political scrutiny of Western Europe — showed that constructing an external enemy could bring electoral success in the modern era. It allowed Hungary to give birth to “Trump before Trump,” as Steve Bannon said.
Birnbaum and Finkelstein’s work has provided a new model for attack politics in this era of global division. They designed a master plan for exploiting these divisions that has worked in many different countries and contexts, and helped create a Jewish enemy that the far right has exploited to devastating effect. In 2016, when Trump ran his final TV ad ahead of the election, it came as no surprise that Soros was featured as a member of “global special interests” who don’t have “your good in mind.”
Fox News / Via youtube.com  George Birnbaum in a 2015 appearance on Fox News.

To understand Birnbaum, you have to look backward, through the brutal Israeli politics of the 1990s to Washington, DC, in the 1970s, where a new profession known as political consultancy was devising a fresh set of tools for bringing people to power. There you find Birnbaum’s spiritual father, Finkelstein.
Starting in the late 1960s, Finkelstein was one of a handful of men reinventing the industry of political consulting in New York. He would go on to help presidents and senators, to pioneer a slashing style of television advertising, and to build a generation of protégés.
Finkelstein isn’t as famous as his contemporary Roger Ailes, but he is a hidden link that runs through the contemporary Republican Party, leading from the libertarian icon Ayn Rand to the cynicism of Richard Nixon and finally on to Trump. Finkelstein was a New York City kid. The son of a cab driver, he met Rand while he was a student at Columbia University in the early 1960s. He went on to work briefly as a computer programmer on Wall Street before becoming an early exponent of the art of polling toward the end of the decade.
From left: Paul Curran, a one-time Republican candidate for governor of New York, Whitney North Seymour, the former US attorney for the Southern District in New York, and Arthur Finkelstein, June 8, 1983. Chester Higgins Jr. for the New York Times
It was back then 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.
Whoever doesn’t attack first will be beaten, he argued. And Finkelstein made things personal. Every campaign needs an enemy to defeat. He developed negative campaigning into a technique he called “rejectionist voting” — to demonize the enemy so much that even the laziest of voters would want to get out and vote, just to reject them.
Finkelstein would also advise his clients not to talk about themselves, but instead to focus their campaigning on destroying their opponents. He became notorious for turning “liberal” into a dirty word. In TV campaigns that no 1990s American could avoid, opponents were branded as “ultra liberal,” “crazy liberal,” “embarrassingly liberal,” or “too liberal for too long.” Campaigners named his ideology “Finkel-Think.” It was simple but effective. Friends of Finkelstein have often claimed that nobody got more politicians elected than he did.
Controversy occasionally surrounded his work. In the 1980s, while working for a Republican candidate, he was criticized for polling voters to see what they thought of the Jewish identity of his Democrat opponent.
By the time of his death in 2017, Finkelstein had left an indelible mark on national politics, having worked for Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. While working as a central campaign member for Reagan in 1980, a strangely gloomy advertisement appeared: “Let’s make America great again.”
He reportedly did some work for the Trump Organization in the mid-2000s — and later spoke of the “mind-boggling” power of Trump’s personality. When Trump finally ran for president, his campaign was stuffed with “Arthur’s kids” and friends: Larry Weitzner, Tony Fabrizio, and his old buddy Roger Stone.
Birnbaum was one of Arthur’s kids. After graduating from Florida Tech in the early ’90s, he first came into Finkelstein’s orbit in DC when the latter was working at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. It was Birnbaum’s job to bring Finkelstein the latest polling numbers each morning. Everything Finkelstein did was based on analysis of his polls, Birnbaum remembered, who said no one could see the patterns like Finkelstein.
Birnbaum was blown away by Finkelstein’s brain, and his insights. But he also discovered the other Arthur.
To the outside world, Finkelstein was an enigma, the strategist who worked for the right. But in private he was a friendly, fun, brilliant, and yet unpretentious man, full of anecdotes from the innermost circles of power. Raised in a Jewish family in Queens, he made jokes about kosher rules. He was a nerd with the chest pocket of his blue button-down shirt full of pens and notes.
In the otherwise stuffy world of politics, Finkelstein kept his tie loose and could often be seen walking around the office in his socks. He could do that because he was seen as the right half of the right’s brain. Finkelstein once told a friend that Reagan’s chief of staff thanked him in writing for “keeping your shoes on most of the time” while in the Oval Office. Finkelstein’s passion was elections. Politics reminded him, he told students in Prague, of “waves on a beach that look alike, but over time are always different.” His love, however, was for his two daughters — and for a man. Finkelstein, who helped get radical Republican gay-haters elected, was gay. He married his partner of more than 40 years in 2004, and they were together until Finkelstein’s death.
A year after Birnbaum first met Finkelstein, he bumped into him again in an anonymous hallway of the NRSC. He told him that he wanted to work for him, to do polling for him. And he spoke Hebrew, too, if he would ever have a project in Israel.
Right-wing Likud opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, May 26, 1996, in Tel Aviv.  Afp / AFP / Getty Images
The assassination of the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, on Nov. 4, 1995, was a turning point for the country — and for Finkelstein and Birnbaum.
When elections for his successor were hastily arranged, a newcomer threw his hat into the ring. Benjamin Netanyahu, a right-wing former corporate consultant, was given no chance. He was running against Shimon Peres, a legendary figure, a Social Democrat from the founding generation of Israel who wanted to continue Rabin’s peace process, which most people hoped would succeed.
Israelis initially sneered at Netanyahu’s ambitions, and polls put him 20% behind. But seemingly out of nowhere, Netanyahu’s Likud party started carpeting the country with sinister ads. “Peres will divide Jerusalem” went the slogan, even though Peres had no such intention. Similar attacks targeting Peres appeared on TV, on the radio, and in the press.
In the final TV debate, Peres stepped into the trap laid by Finkelstein. The first thing he did was to try to clarify that he had no desire to divide Jerusalem — the exact topic Finkelstein wanted him to raise. Netanyahu owned the debate.
On Election Day, the race between Peres and Netanyahu looked too close to call. Around 10 p.m. the TV stations reported a very close win for Peres, based on early projections. According to a biography of Netanyahu, he grabbed the phone and called “Arthur” — his secret campaign manager. Finkelstein was in New York, but answered immediately, and told Netanyahu he shouldn’t be worried. “I always win the close ones.”
When the final count came in, Netanyahu was the new prime minister: 50.49% to 49.51%.
Netanyahu’s win made Finkelstein a star. He “changed campaigning forever,” according to the Haaretz newspaper. He had learned too that his formula could work outside North America. Finkelstein’s expertise became much sought after.
In 1998 Birnbaum received a call. It was Finkelstein, asking whether he would like to work for the Likud party in Israel, a dream come true for Birnbaum. It was here that the two became a team, with Finkelstein as captain and Birnbaum his first mate. While Finkelstein traveled between New York and Israel, Birnbaum kept watch in Israel, where he became the chief of staff for Netanyahu, organizing his appearances, representing him in front of the press, and sometimes even babysitting his kids.
The triumph in Israel marked the beginning of a new era. It was then that Finkelstein turned to Europe, and an even closer collaboration with Birnbaum. From 2003 onward, the two men worked together as global political consultants, applying Finkelstein’s formula to Eastern Europe and the Balkans, starting with successful election campaigns in Romania and Bulgaria.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán shakes hands with Netanyahu, July 19, 2018.  Debbie Hill / AFP / Getty Images
Finkelstein and Birnbaum’s electoral masterpiece was created in Hungary, and would have implications around the world.
It began in 2008, when Orbán decided to seek reelection. His old friend Bibi — as Netanyahu is known — introduced him to the two people who would guide his success. Before long, Finkelstein and Birnbaum were applying their formula to Orbán’s election campaign — and then turbocharging it.
Enemies were easy to find in Hungary. The country was an economic basket case and had to be bailed out in 2008. Austerity measures were demanded by their creditors at the World Bank, the EU, and the IMF. Finkelstein and Birnbaum told Orbán to target “the bureaucrats” and “foreign capital.”
Orbán won the 2010 election with a two-thirds majority as the country shifted to the right. Birnbaum is still amazed today how easy it was: “We blew the Socialist party off the table even before the election.”
Birnbaum and Finkelstein, now part of Orbán’s inner circle, found themselves with a problem. While the satisfied winner of the election started rewriting the constitution, they were now lacking an opponent. “There was no real political enemy … there was no one to have a fight with,” Birnbaum remembered. The ultra-right Jobbik party and the Socialist party were beaten, the rest in splinters. “We had had an incumbent with a historic majority, something that had never happened in Hungary before.” To maintain that, they needed a “high energy level,” said Birnbaum. “You need to keep the base energized, make sure that on Election Day they have a reason to go out and vote,” he said. They needed something powerful, like Trump’s “Build the Wall!”
“It always helps rally the troops and rally a population” when the enemy has a face, Birnbaum explained. “Arthur always said that you did not fight against the Nazis but against Adolf Hitler. Not against al-Qaeda, but against Osama bin Laden.” Who could become that enemy in Hungary now that Orbán was in power — and wanted to stay there?
Orbán was busy creating a new, more dramatic story of the nation. Hungary, which had collaborated with the Nazis, was painted as a victim, surrounded by external enemies, under perpetual siege, first from the Ottomans, then the Nazis, and later the Communists. Hungary’s mission was clear: to defend against its enemies, and to preserve Christianity against encroaching Islam and secular forces.
Against this backdrop, 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.
George Soros Olivier Hoslet / AFP / Getty Images
Orbán had even received money from Soros: During his time in the opposition, his small underground foundation Századvég published critical newspapers, created on a copy machine that was paid for by Soros. Orbán was also one of the more than 15,000 students who received scholarships from Soros’s Open Society Foundations. Thanks to Soros, Orbán studied philosophy in Oxford. The two men only met once: when Soros came to Hungary in 2010 after a toxic spill to provide $1 million in emergency funds.
There didn’t really seem to be a reason to turn against him in Hungary.
But Finkelstein and Birnbaum saw something in Soros that would make him the perfect enemy. There’s a long history of criticism of Soros, dating back to 1992, when Soros earned $1 billion overnight betting against the British pound. For many on the left, Soros was a vulture. But Soros used his sudden prominence to push for liberal ideas. He supported 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.
But there was more. Finkelstein and Birnbaum had expanded their work into exactly those countries where the Open Society Foundations was trying to build liberal local elites and civil rights movements: Ukraine, Romania, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Albania. Birnbaum believed Soros stood for “a socialism that is wrong for these areas.” According to Birnbaum, Finkelstein was more practical about his opposition to Soros, whom he saw as simply a means to an end: “It wasn’t an emotional thing.”
It didn’t take much for the two consultants to convince Orbán to take on Soros — the Hungarian prime minister had “an enormous amount of trust in Arthur’s intellect,” said Birnbaum. The anti-Soros campaign was useful for Orbán — and not just domestically. Externally, it would please his Russian neighbors. Putin was afraid of the so-called color revolutions like the one in Ukraine, and the Arab Spring, and had begun attacking Soros and his support for liberal causes.
The two men’s work for Orbán is now part of Hungary’s political legend. Finkelstein is an almost mythical figure, not least because Orbán has barely mentioned his role in public. His spokespeople did not reply to requests for comment about Finkelstein and Birnbaum.
Birnbaum was similarly unforthcoming about the exact details of the work they did for Orbán. He didn’t want to discuss whether they had drafted slogans or just simple concepts, nor would he say how much control they had over the campaign itself.
The public campaign against Soros began in earnest on Aug. 14, 2013, around nine months ahead of the next election. It started relatively quietly, with an article in the government-aligned newspaper Heti Válasz attacking NGOs that were said to be controlled by Soros.
Next, the Hungarian government went after the allegedly Soros-controlled environmental organization Ökotárs, which received Norwegian and Swiss funding. Police stormed their offices and confiscated computers, while the government opened an investigation into their activities. The Hungarian investigators would eventually come up empty — but not before they had succeeded in spreading the image of a shadowy network of foreign NGOs run by Soros.
Orbán and his team didn’t stop there. By 2015, the European refugee crisis, in part stimulated by the war in Syria, had emboldened nationalists across the continent. So when Soros argued that the EU needed to develop a “common plan” for the treatment of refugees, and prepare for a million asylum-seekers per year, he became a welcome target once more for Orbán’s team. On Oct. 30, 2015, Orbán made a speech in which he claimed Soros wanted to weaken the country and flood it with refugees.
The attacks came thick and fast after that. Any organization that had ever received money from the Open Society Foundations was painted as “Soros controlled.” Employees of the NGOs were described by government press as “mercenaries,” financed by foreign powers. All of that was done through a series of sensational articles and official responses from members of government.
A crescendo was reached in July 2017, when the whole country was plastered with ads showing Soros’s face and the slogan “Don’t let George Soros have the last laugh!”
The slogan “Stop Soros” was repeated endlessly, everywhere. Manipulated photos showed him walking hand in hand with allies through a fence: Orbán’s fence, constructed to stop refugees crossing into Hungary. Orbán claimed Soros maintained a mafia network.
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 was trapped. “The perfect enemy is one that you can punch again and again and he won't punch back,” said Birnbaum. If Soros had struck back, it would have just played into their hands, confirming that he had power and influence, said Birnbaum. Soros and the Open Society Foundations have tried to counter accusations and attacks, and have even sued the Hungarian government in the European Court of Human Rights, but they couldn’t enter the political arena. It would be unthinkable for the 87-year-old Soros to run against Orbán. “Mr. Soros is not a politician,” said his assistant Michael Vachon.
Despite everything that followed, Birnbaum is proud of the campaign against Soros: “Soros was a perfect enemy. It was so obvious. It was the simplest of all products, you just had to pack it and market it.”
The product was so good, it sold itself and went global. In 2017, Italians started talking about Soros-financed immigrant boats arriving on the shores. In the US, some people suspected Soros was behind the migrant caravan entering from Central America. A Polish member of parliament called Soros the “most dangerous man in the world.” Putin referred dismissively to Soros during a press conference with Trump in Helsinki. Trump even claimed that the demonstrations against Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh were sponsored by Soros.
Today Finkelstein and Birnbaum’s work in Hungary has echoes everywhere. Birnbaum denied the suggestion that he had run anti-Soros campaigns outside of Hungary. But perhaps he didn’t have to. Anyone could pick up the ideas and run with them. Finkelstein and Birnbaum had turned Soros into a meme. Right-wing sites like Breitbart, or the Kremlin-controlled Russia Today, could simply adopt the Hungarian campaign, translate it into other languages, and feed it with local arguments.
If right-wing movements want to campaign today, they can source Soros material from the internet. Anti-Soros material is a globalized, freely available, and adaptable open-source weapon. Birnbaum said it was the common denominator of the nationalist movement.
Soros was a target of demonstrators in Macedonia in 2017, when the country was debating whether Albanian should become an official language. Robert Atanasovski / AFP / Getty Images
Orbán’s campaign against Soros never actually used the word Jew, but it was often implicit. Orbán told his people they would have to fight against an “enemy” who was “different,” who didn’t have a “home.” It was common to see anti-Semitic graffiti on the “Stop Soros” ads — voters knew what they were being told.
Finkelstein and Birnbaum created a Frankenstein monster that found a new life on the internet. In that stew are the resentments for his assault on communism, and allegations that he’s a communist; anti-Jewish slurs and charges he’s a Nazi; and above all the old mix of European anti-Semitism.
If you search today for Soros, you will immediately find images of his head with octopus tentacles, another classic anti-Semitic motif. Even Netanyahu’s son Yair posted an anti-Semitic meme in 2017 showing Soros and reptilians controlling the world.
Members of the Jewish community in Hungary began to protest the Stop Soros campaign in 2017. The Israeli ambassador condemned it. When Zoltan Radnoti, a prominent Hungarian rabbi, learned that the campaign was led by two members of the Jewish community, he was shocked.
The anti-Semitism that sprang out of the Soros campaign might not be too surprising, even if Finkelstein and Birnbaum did not intend it. They imported ancient themes and modern grievances into 21st-century communications technology. What was new: They had turned Soros into their central political enemy.
The allegation that he was responsible for anti-Semitism pains Birnbaum. He just doesn’t see it. He decided to speak primarily because he wants to refute it. He is, after all, an observant Jew and member of many pro-Israeli charities.
“When we planned the campaign,” he said, “we didn’t think a second about Soros being a Jew.” Birnbaum claimed he didn’t even know it back then, and that he never worked with anti-Semites.
Before working with Orbán, he checked in with informed circles in Israel to see how Orbán felt about Jews. He didn’t hear anything that would put him off — on the contrary, he said, Orbán had fought against anti-Semitism and had even given his first daughter the Jewish name “Rahel.”
After all, “can I not attack someone because he is a Jew?” Birnbaum asked.
Whatever their intention, the anti-Soros invective has only increased, sometimes with deadly consequences. In October 2018, a Trump supporter sent a parcel bomb to Soros. Five days later a gunman entered a synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people. The attacker saw himself as part of a fight against a Jewish conspiracy, which he believed was funding mass migration, and talked about the caravan and Soros on social media.
When asked if the Soros campaign in Hungary had stoked this anti-Semitism, Birnbaum admitted that with the benefit of hindsight, “it looks really bad,” but at the time it was the right decision to target Soros, he said.
Some months after the meeting in Berlin, Birnbaum went to the Trump hotel in DC, where a friend, Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was presenting his new book, Trump’s Enemies. Kellyanne Conway dropped by. Caviar was being sold, $100 per ounce. Birnbaum chatted with the other guests and ordered a Moscow mule.
Had he changed his mind about the Soros campaign? Any regrets?
“Anti-Semitism is something eternal, indelible,” said Birnbaum. “Our campaign did not make anyone anti-Semitic who wasn’t before. Maybe we were just drawing a new target, not more. I would do it again.” ●
The chart that measures social media reactions to George Soros is in his office in Manhattan, not the office of the Open Society Foundations.
Hannes Grassegger is a Swiss economist and expert in Information Warfare. Best known for starting the Cambridge Analytica discussion. He is a technology reporter for Das Magazin, Zürich.

The centuries-old history of Jewish “puppet master” conspiracy theories

The alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter thought George Soros was controlling the world economy. Here’s the anti-Semitic history of that far-right narrative.

Jewish tombstones vandalized In Verano Cemetery in Rome, Italy, in 2017. Stefano Montesi/Corbis via Getty Images
The Pittsburgh synagogue shooter had a conspiracy theory.
The suspected killer of 11 Jewish people in a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue frequently posted snippets of his political ideology on far-right social networking sites like Gab. He posited that George Soros, the Jewish billionaire known for contributing to liberal causes, was secretly controlling the Honduran migrant caravan, a dwindling group of about 4,000 people heading on foot to the US-Mexico border to seek political refuge from instability and gang violence as part of a wider scheme to destabilize Western democracy.
HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” the suspected gunman allegedly wrote on Gab hours before the attack, referring to a Jewish nonprofit that advocates for refugees, before adding, “I can’t stand by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.”
Hours later, 11 people were dead.
As Media Matters researcher Talia Lavin told Vox earlier this week, the narrative of “white genocide” — the destabilization and marginalization of white people in Europe — is historically inextricable from the conspiracy narrative of the Jew as “puppet master.” This figure is supposedly both secretly, insidiously in charge of the economic and political world order, and deeply committed ideologically to destabilizing ethnic and national identities.
Soros is an incredibly wealthy Jewish man who has made no secret of his liberal political affiliations. He’s become a convenient symbol for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. But he’s far from the first one — and unlikely to be the last.
The conspiracy theories against Soros, and the insidious idea of the “Jewish puppet master” more generally, are part of a much broader rhetoric of hate, one that has fomented amid populist anxieties about urbanization, industrialization, and capitalism for centuries.
It’s a pernicious trope, but far from a new one, dating back to the European Enlightenment, an umbrella term for a number of rationalist, largely secular, philosophical schools of thought that flourished in the 18th century.
Since the late 18th century — and the political changes that followed the European Enlightenment — Jews have been treated as a scapegoat for populist anger, unfairly blamed for wider cultural anxieties about capitalism, industrialization, and an increasingly diverse and cosmopolitan social landscape.

Anti-Semitism today is rooted in narratives that have been around since the 1780s

Historical hatred of Jews has taken very particular forms over the past two millennia. There was religious anti-Semitism based loosely on the idea that the Jews were (allegedly) responsible for the killing of Christ, or for refusing him as Messiah. There was also straightforward racial animosity, which led to sickeningly regular genocidal violence throughout Medieval Europe.
But the anti-Semitic narratives around George Soros, which seem to have motivated the suspected Pittsburgh shooter, are rooted in a relatively more recent anti-Semitism that has been around since the late 18th century: a toxic conflation of anti-Semitism and “populism” that portrays Jews as mysterious, mustache-twirling puppet masters of the global order.
In an excellent 2017 piece in Jacobin, Harrison Fluss and Landon Frim look at how this form of anti-Semitism came to be.
They trace the origins of this modern “populist” narrative of anti-Semitism — the idea that Jews are out to subvert a Christian, ethnically unified society — to the political and economic upheavals that defined the late 1700s. The French Revolution, in particular, dispensed with absolutist monarchy in France and plunged all of Europe into a time of political instability. One Revolution-era document they highlight lays out what it meant to be part of this new, post-monarchical France.
That 1789 document, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, laid out a radically new way of understanding what it meant to be French — or, at least, French in a newly democratic, post-monarchical society. It presented a vision of citizenship as distinct from bloodline or heritage, grounded instead in the democratic process and in “universal reason and equality.” A vision of citizenship that, Fluss and Frum write, explicitly emancipated Jews.
The ways in which Jews became citizens, Fluss and Frum argue, highlighted a fundamental difference in the way identity was understood between the ancien régime of monarchial France and the post-Revolutionary, increasingly capitalist, world order.
“Belonging” became not an issue of ethnicity or birthright but of political participation. “Citizenship,” by contrast, became a unifying foundational concept — one that allowed for a society based, in theory, on a coherence of ideas rather than a confluence of bloodlines.
The 18th-century debate over “human rights” was inextricably tied to the practical question of the place of Jews in society. If all citizens of a nation were equal by virtue of their civic participation, then Jews were “one of us.” If, however, identity were more fixed — based on natural and biological factors — then Jews could never be “one of us.” They would always be outsiders at best, impostors at worst.
This debate over “citizenship,” and what it meant to belong to a place, came at a time of immense social upheaval more broadly. The 19th century in Western Europe was a time of rapid industrialization, urbanization, and the increasing dominance of an urban, capitalist economic order. For some, this meant the possibility of prosperity — throughout Europe, the 19th century saw the dawning of a larger, richer middle class.
But for others, the new, liberal, capitalist world order did not live up to its promise. And those left behind, socially or financially, by that new order sought someone to blame. And so, as Fluss and Frim write, "the Counter-Enlightenment belonged to the Right, quite often of the romantic, völkisch [or nationalist], and anti-Semitic Right.”
Opponents of Enlightenment values more broadly bought into ideas that prioritized fixed identity — based on blood, language, or faith — over nebulous definitions of “citizenship” or “human rights” (definitions that would, in turn, legitimize Jews as full members of society).
The 19th century saw a dawning of nationalist ideology across Europe, including a fascination with imagined, primordial pasts defined by national myths. The composer Richard Wagner, whose anti-Semitic legacy has long been debated, created staggering operas, based on Old Norse mythology, that doubled as paeans to an imagined German past. The Brothers Grimm started their project of collecting German folklore and fairytales — like Wagner, hoping to create a vision of a unified, purer Germanic past.
This reactionary Counter-Enlightenment treated Jews (alongside other “undesirables”) as responsible for the evil of uncontrolled capitalism, another social factor that had come to shape the industrial 19th century. In their minds, the emancipation of Jews went hand in hand with all the flaws of the new “liberal” world order that the Enlightenment — and, after it, the French Revolution — had wrought.
It was this conflation of populist, anti-capitalist sentiment and anti-Semitism that led German sociologist August Bebel to term anti-Semitism “the socialism of fools.
For example, from an 1845 text by Alphonse Toussenel:
Protestants and Jews, thanks to emancipation after 1787 and 1791, have controlled public opinion in order to favour trafficking and rigging the market, blocked every defence of royalty and of the people, put the producer and the consumer at their mercy so that in France the Jew reigns and governs.
These attitudes weren’t just limited to verbal discourse. Anti-Semitic pamphlets and imagery throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries visually portrayed the Jew as something between a corporate fat cat and a shadowy overlord; someone “cosmopolitan,” urbane (and urban), and dangerous.
This rhetoric reveals the extent to which Jews were seen as scapegoats, responsible for somehow manipulating the current world order in order to destabilize white Christian identity. It’s the exact same story we see today in narratives around Soros: that of the scheming Jewish billionaire, without any real (i.e., blood) loyalty to the country that allows him to be a citizen, actively seeking to undermine white Christian unity.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion set the blueprint for future anti-Semitism

Perhaps the most noxious and notorious example of this brand of anti-Semitism is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a 1903 Russian hoax document. It was a “handbook” on Jewish rule “proving” that a shadowy cabal of Jews was running the government, the media, and actively plotting to suppress nationalism and religion.
It’s unclear who wrote the document, or when — although parts of it are plagiarized from unrelated, earlier French and German satirical texts — but it seems clear that the document was intended to stoke anti-Semitic sentiments among ordinary Russians. But, even more disturbingly, it managed to conflate the Jewish people both with a threat to national and religious identity, and with a kind of dangerous secular capitalism.
These straw-man fictitious Jews, depicted in the document for example, announce that:
“It is indispensable for us to undermine all faith, to tear out of the mind of the "goyim" the very principle of god-head and the spirit, and to put in its place arithmetical calculations and material needs”
The Protocols were used by the Nazis as propaganda and are still distributed and presented as fact by organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, and remain in common use among extremist right-wing groups. In 2012, for example, a representative of Greece’s ultra-right Golden Dawn party read a portion of the text aloud in the Greek parliament.
Serbian anti-Semitic poster depicting Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin as puppets of a Jewish man. Swim Ink 2/Corbis via Getty Images

The populist anger at the heart of modern anti-Semitism may not be new. But that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Last weekend’s attacks on the Tree of Life synagogue — the deadliest ever attack on Jews on American soil according to the Anti-Defamation League — reveal just how noxious the “Jewish puppet master” trope can be, and just how long it can survive.
But historical memory is as short as history itself is cyclical. The mantra of “never again” — repeated so often after the horrors of the Holocaust — all too easily dissolves into “until next time.”

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