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New York, Friday, November 7,
Jewish appearance, George Soros says Jews
and Israel cause anti-Semitism
YORK, Nov. 7 (JTA) -- It's
not often that George Soros, the
billionaire financier and
makes an appearance before a Jewish
It's even rarer for him to use such an
occasion to talk about Israel, Jews and
his own role in effecting political
So when Soros stepped to the podium
Wednesday to address those issues at a
conference of the Jewish Funders Network,
audience members were listening
Many were surprised by what they
in Europe, Soros, who is Jewish, said
European anti-Semitism is the result of
the policies of Israel and the United
"There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism
in Europe. The policies of the Bush
administration and the Sharon
administration contribute to that," Soros
said. "It's not specifically
anti-Semitism, but it does manifest itself
in anti-Semitism as well. I'm critical of
"If we change that direction, then
anti-Semitism also will diminish," he
said. "I can't see how one could confront
That is a point made by Israel's most
vociferous critics, whom some Jewish
activists charge with using anti-Zionism
as a guise for anti-Semitism.
The billionaire financier said he, too,
bears some responsibility for the new
anti-Semitism, citing last month's
by Malaysia's outgoing prime minister,
Mahathir Mohammad, who said, "Jews
rule the world by proxy."
"I'm also very concerned about my own
role because the new anti-Semitism holds
that the Jews rule the world," said Soros,
whose projects and funding have influenced
governments and promoted various political
causes around the world.
"As an unintended consequence of my
actions," he said, "I also contribute to
conference, some Jewish leaders who
heard about the speech reacted angrily
to Soros' remarks.
understand things clearly: Anti-Semitism
is not caused by Jews; it's caused by
anti-Semites," said Elan Steinberg,
senior advisor at the World Jewish
Congress. "One can certainly be critical
of Bush policy or Sharon policy, but any
deviation from the understanding of the
real cause of anti-Semitism is not merely
a disservice, but a historic lie."
Abraham Foxman, national
director of the Anti-Defamation
League, called Soros' comments
"He buys into the stereotype," Foxman
said. "It's a simplistic,
counterproductive, biased and bigoted
perception of what's out there. It's
blaming the victim for all of Israel's and
the Jewish people's ills."
Foxman (right) said, "If he sees
that his position of being who he is may
contribute to the perception of
anti-Semitism, what's his solution to
himself -- that he give up his money? That
he close his mouth?"
ASSOCIATES said Soros' appearance
Wednesday was the first they could ever
recall in which the billionaire, a
Hungarian-born U.S. Jew who escaped the
Holocaust by fleeing to London as a child,
had spoken in front of a Jewish group or
attended a Jewish function.
The one-day meeting on funding in
Israel, which took place at the Harvard
Club in New York, was limited mostly to
representatives of Jewish
speech, Michael Steinhardt, the
real-estate magnate and Jewish
philanthropist who arranged for Soros
to address the group, said in an
interview that Soros' views do not
reflect those of most Jewish
millionaires or philanthropists.
He also pointed out that this was
Soros' first speech to a Jewish
Steinhardt approached the lectern and
interrupted Soros immediately after his
remarks on anti-Semitism.
"George Soros does not think Jews
should be hated any more than they deserve
to be," Steinhardt said by way of
clarification, eliciting chuckles from the
Steinhardt then gave the lectern back
to Soros, who said he had something to add
to his remarks on the issue of
anti-Semitism. Soros then paused to ask if
there were any journalists in the
When he learned that there were, Soros
withheld further comment.
Mark Charendoff, president of
the group that hosted the conference, said
he was pleased overall with the Soros
"We found him to be enormously frank,
candid and generous with his time,"
Charendoff said. "I would be delighted if
Mr. Soros would bring his passion, his
brilliance and his resources to a range of
different causes that are important to the
Charendoff is not alone.
what they think of his politics, most
Jewish activists likely would welcome
Soros' participation in the world of
Though he's ranked as the 28th richest
person in the United States by
Forbes magazine -- with a fortune
valued at $7 billion -- Soros has given
scant money to Jewish causes.
first known funding of a Jewish group came
in 1997, when his Open Society Institute's
Emma Lazarus Fund gave $1.3 million to the
Council of Jewish Federations, and when
Soros gave another $1.3 million to the
Jewish Fund for Justice, an anti-poverty
As much as Jews may not like what Soros
has to say -- at Wednesday's meeting, he
called for "regime change" in the United
States and talked of funding projects in
"Palestine" -- they are eager to get Soros
involved in giving to Jewish causes.
"In many ways, this was an introduction
for Soros," Charendoff said. "He remarked
to me how impressed he was with the
quality of the people he met. We can only
hope that this was a beginning of an
engagement with the Jewish funding
Soros said he has not given much to
Jewish or Israel-related causes because
Jews take care of their own, so that his
financial clout is better directed
Steinhardt tried to correct him on that
point, saying the field of Jewish giving
is not as crowded as Soros thinks.
"Even if we were a crowded field,"
Steinhardt told Soros, "I'm sure we could
make room for you."
During his speech, Soros announced that
he would support the "Geneva accord," an
unofficial Middle East peace plan proposed
by two out-of-office politicians, Israel's
Yossi Beilin and Palestinian
Yasser Abed Rabbo.
That plan envisions two states along
pre-1967 borders and a shared Jerusalem,
and is vague on the demand that
Palestinian refugees from 1948 be allowed
to return to Israel.
It was not clear whether Soros' support
of the plan would involve funding.
Beilin's office did not return a call
dossier on the origins of
Jewish Congress - Edgar Bronfman, Elan
Steinberg, Isi Leibler, call eachother
leader familiar with the work of the
WJC suspects that . . .
lawyers have done a lot of
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