By Rachel Avraham
George Soros, is a Hungarian American, a devout atheist and businessman, who is valued at about 10 billion dollars. Soros was born in Hungary in 1930 to a Jewish family, survived the Holocaust, went to England to study philosophy at the London School of Economics, and, after his studies, immigrated to the United States. Soros made his fortune mainly from foreign currency trading. Politically, he is identified with the left and as a liberal person, he donated considerable sums of money to the Democratic Party in the United States.
In 1982, Soros started engaging in philanthropy and by 2017 had managed to donate over 14 billion dollars. Most of his donations are made by the “Open Society Institute” which he founded. In August 2016, documents from the “Open Society Institute” were leaked, which reveal the organizations to which Soros donates large sums of money, including radical left-wing organizations like Ir Amim, B’Tselem, and Breaking the Silence. He also donated money to “Adalah” and “Musaua”, which deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. In addition to the direct donations to these organizations, the “Open Society Institute” provides “ad hoc support for lobbying tasks of the grantees in the United States and Europe with the support of the Open Society Foundations in Washington and Brussels”. This intense anti-Israeli narrative of the extremist organizations can influence the decision-makers and fuel the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In May 2013, NGO Monitor published a report about the donations that the Open Society Institute donated to those organizations. The purpose of the report was to provide information about these donations and their impact in the world. The report revealed that Soros’ donations significantly promote anti-Israel campaigns in three different dimensions.
The first dimension is activity within the “Durban strategy” (to act against the Israeli narrative as a human rights organization). Thus Palestinian organizations such as al-Haq, al-Mazan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights received generous donations. In addition, Soros donated large sums to organizations such as Human Rights Watch (this organization received a donation of one hundred million dollars) which focus on Israel in a biased and disproportionate way. Human Rights Watch received such a generous donation, after a fundraising campaign for funds in Saudi Arabia and support for the Gaddafi family as “human rights reformers”.
The second dimension is funding aimed at damaging American public opinion regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and thus changing the opinion of the American government and distancing it from the State of Israel. The report examined whether Soros contributed to organizations that operate in this way and found that yes it does. He gives to J-Street, the Center for American Progress, and the National Iranian-American Council. An example of the working method of these organizations is, for example, the Iranian-American Council, which aims to legitimize the Iranian regime and thus protect it from attempts to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.
The third dimension is the financing of political groups on the fringes of Israeli society that use the tools they receive as “human rights organizations” to actually promote narrow political goals. Those organizations such as “Breaking the Silence” and “B’tselem” are on the fringes of opinion in Israel. They also operate on the Durban strategy (the first dimension) and in some cases work to undermine the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.
These financing actions are contrary to the published values of the Institute for an Open Society and contrary to the norms of transparency. From the above report it appears that Soros does not act alone in this field and has partners. It is difficult to know how much Soros and his family members are involved in the Institute’s donations to an Open Society, but the NGO knows that donations of large amounts (such as the donation received by Human Rights Watch) are only approved by Soros and his family. In addition, the NGO does not know how much Soros is actually involved in the institute’s decisions in donations to organizations that work against Israel. Recently, Soros said, “When I examine my network of funds, I cannot make a true assessment of the various and diverse activities that take place in them, because I am not aware of them all.”
In Israel, Knesset member Miki Zohar from the Likud party wanted to enact a law called the “Soros Law”, which would ban donations to Israeli non-governmental organizations from “any person who donates to organizations that work against Israel”. NGO Monitor, an organization which monitors anti-Israel NGOs, does oppose the funding of anti-Israeli organizations, but it did not support this law. The NGO Monitor opposes any legislation that limits funding to non-governmental organizations and supports only legislation that increases transparency.
Last month, George Soros handed over the Open Society Institute to his son, Alexander Soros. How this transfer of power will affect how the Open Society Institute funds anti-Israel organizations in Israel remains to be seen. However, according to Haaretz, Alexander Soros has an even bigger history of engaging with left wing causes than his father does and is also a big critic of Israel. Alexander Soros has also been fiercely critical of the current Israeli government.
“I worry when Jews in America start to support policies in Israel which they wouldn’t support in America,” he told Philanthropy News Digest, “which don’t allow for separation of church and state, which don’t give full rights to people who are technically living under occupation, and which don’t allow for immigration of people who aren’t Jews, or for non-Jews to become citizens”.
Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working for the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, which is run by Mendi Safadi, a former Likud Candidate for the Knesset and a former chief of staff of former Israeli Communication Minister Ayoob Kara. Since 2012, she has been working as an Israel-based journalist and writer, for the Daily Wire, the Christian Post, the Baltimore Jewish Times, the Jerusalem Post, Israel Hayom, Ahval and many other publications across the globe. She received her MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She got her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College