Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros has said that the policies of the Bush administration and Sharon government are partly responsible for the outbreak of anti-Semitism in Europe. Soros added that he too bore some responsibility for what he called "the new anti-Semitism."
Soros was speaking before the Jewish Funders Network in New York last Wednesday. The Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), which apparently was the only news agency to send a correspondent to the event, published the comments on Friday.
Nonetheless, Soros's comments spread rapidly through the Jewish community over the weekend, causing major shock. Several American-Jewish leaders reacted with unusual vehemence to the comments.
According to the JTA, in response to a question about anti-Semitism by one of the conference participants, Soros said, "There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that. It’s not specifically anti-Semitism, but it does manifest itself in anti-Semitism as well. I’m critical of those policies. If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish. I can’t see how one could confront it directly."
He added, “I’m also very concerned about my own role because the new anti-Semitism holds that the Jews rule the world. As an unintended consequence of my actions,” he said, “I also contribute to that image."
In response to Soros's remarks, Conference of presidents of Major Jewish Organizations chairman Malcolm Hoenlein told "Globes", "Anti-Semites don't need excuses. If the quote is accurate, it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about anti-Semitism. It's ridiculous and unacceptable to say that attacks on Jews are related to Bush or Sharon's policies, while ignoring the real reason: a deep antipathy toward Jews in the Arab world and the occasional indifference on the part of European governments. Anti-Semitism in Europe reached a peak during the Barak government, during the Camp David 2 and Taba negotiations."
Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on November 9, 2003