Sunday, December 5, 2010

The New Antisemitism

Writing in The Nation, Jonathan Schell puts Glenn Beck's recent attack on George Soros in perspective. He provides a long and interesting analysis of classic antisemitism. Specifically of the Soros attack, Schell writes:
But not until the attacks on Soros did Beck's crackpot vision of a grand conspiracy acquire a human face—as it happens, a Jewish one. Like the Protocols, Beck's presentation—titled The Puppet Master?—discovers a single malevolent force operating behind the scenes to control history. While horror-film music plays and clips of history's disasters are shown on the screen, a voice intones, "Eighty years ago, George Soros was born. Little did the world know then, economies would collapse, currencies would become worthless, elections would be stolen, regimes would fall. And one billionaire would find himself coincidentally at the center of it all." Going on to accuse Soros of creating a shadow government, the show states that this "greatly resembles" similar organizations "he has created in other countries," supposedly "before instigating a coup" (among the countries are Czechoslovakia, Georgia and Ukraine). Thus, Beck falsely charges that Soros instigated coups abroad while also implying that he plans to carry out one in the United States. (What Soros has actually done is give support, through his Open Society Foundations, to democracy movements in many countries.)
In a novel and especially vile (and also false) twist, Beck, while heaping the classic anti-Semitic slurs on Soros, insinuates that Soros, a Holocaust survivor, is himself anti-Semitic. Beck, who denies that he is an anti-Semite, accuses Soros of having had to "go over and take the lands from the people, his Jewish friends and neighbors, who were being sent to the gas chambers" when he was a boy in Hungary during World War II. (In reality, as Michael Kaufman reveals in his book Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire, Soros's Christian protector was ordered to inventory the estate of a Jewish aristocrat who had escaped Hungary. He brought Soros, 13 at the time, with him. Soros wandered the estate and rode a horse. He never took any lands or anything else from Holocaust victims or anyone else.) In a perverse way, the libel is a perfect complement to the history of anti-Semitism: now the Jew is found to be guilty of, on top of all of history's other evils, his own people's persecution.
The article is well worth reading.

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