What Does Israel Have against George Soros? Quite a Lot, Actually

On Monday, the New York Times published an opinion piece by a far-left Israeli journalist named Mairav Zonszein arguing that the billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros “should be”—but is not—“a darling of the Israeli establishment.” The obstacle: he does not offer “unconditional support for [Israel’s current] government.” Elliot Kaufman begs to differ:

Israel is not concerned about Soros’s lack of “unconditional support for the government.” Rather, it detests the fact that he provides millions of dollars to organizations that seek to boycott, isolate, and delegitimize Israel. . . . Soros has given over $1 million to I’lam, a Palestinian media center that accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing and argues that “the practical meaning of the Nakba,” an Arabic term for the creation of Israel, “undermines the moral and ethical foundation of Zionism and, hence, of the state of Israel.” . . . An NGO Monitor report from 2013 also revealed that Soros funds the Institute for Middle East Understanding and Mada al-Carmel, both of which call for international boycotts against Israel.

He funds multiple organizations that specialize in suing Israel domestically and internationally, including Al-Haq, which is led by a senior activist of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, considered a terrorist organization by the United States. . . .

There is no mystery as to why Soros is despised in Israel: he is engaged in a campaign to subvert it from within and attack it from abroad. Soros’s foundation treats Israel like an adversary and a rogue state, to be targeted, pressured, and sanctioned. Soros has even publicly compared Israel to Nazi Germany, amateurishly contending that the victim has become the victimizer.

The defense of Soros in the Times was provoked by a recent kerfuffle over the Hungarian president Viktor Orban’s rhetorical campaign against him, which raised charges of anti-Semitic undertones in rhetoric about the alleged manipulations of a Jewish financier. Israel responded with a statement condemning anti-Semitism while making clear that it had no objections per se to Hungarian politicians condemning Soros. In the Times, Zonszein concludes that this was more evidence of Netanyahu’s supposed indifference to anti-Semitism, whether from Orban or—so she writes—Donald Trump. Kaufman comments:

From [Israel’s] evenhanded, commonsense position, taken to smooth over an Israeli state visit to Hungary, the New York Times jumps to publish Zonszein’s article, headlined “Israel’s War on George Soros.” . . . Zonszein concludes that “Netanyahu sees little value in safeguarding Jewish communities outside Israel, since he would prefer that Jews immigrate to Israel.” . . .

This is sophistry. If Netanyahu doesn’t interfere in U.S. and Hungarian politics, it is [supposedly] because he doesn’t care about the Jewish Diaspora. But if Netanyahu had intervened in the U.S., Zonszein could just as easily condemn him for conflating Jewish and Israeli identity. She could ask: what makes Netanyahu the voice of American Jewry? Then the New York Times could publish an op-ed on its next-favorite subject, just behind criticizing Israel: the divide between Israel and American Jews.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hungary, Idiocy, Israel & Zionism, NGO

European Aid to the Middle East Is Shaped by a Political Agenda

Feb. 18 2019

The EU’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Unit dispenses millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance to dozens of countries every year. Although it claims to operate on principles of strict neutrality, independent of any political motivation and giving priority to the neediest cases, a look at its activities in the Middle East suggests an entirely different approach, as Hillel Frisch writes:

[T]he Middle East is the overwhelming beneficiary of EU humanitarian aid—nearly 1 billion of just over 1.4 billion euros. . . . The bulk of the funds goes toward meeting the costs of assistance to Syrian refugees, followed by smaller sums to Iraq, Yemen, “Palestine,” and North Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, receives less than one-third of that amount. The problem with such allocations is that the overwhelming majority of people living in dire poverty reside in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Bangladesh. . . . The Palestinians, who are richer on average than those living in the poorest states of the world, . . . receive over six euros per capita, while the populations of the poorest states receive less than one-eighth of that amount. . . .

Even less defensible is the EU’s claim to political neutrality. Its favoritism toward the Palestinians on this score is visible as soon as one enters terms into the general search function on the European Commission’s website. Enter “Palestine” and you get 20,737 results. Enter “Ethiopia” and you get almost the same figure, despite massive differences in population size (Ethiopia’s 100 million versus fewer than 5 million Palestinians), geographic expanse (Ethiopia is 50 times the size of “Palestine”), and degree of sheer suffering. The Syrian crisis, which is said to have led to the loss of a half-million lives, merits not many more site results than “Palestine.”

One of the foci of the website’s reports [on the Palestinians] is the plight of 35,000 Bedouin whom the EU assists, often in clear violation of the law, in Area C—the part of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control. The hundreds of thousands of Bedouin in Sinai, however, the plight of whom is readily acknowledged even by Egyptian officials, gets no mention, even though Egypt is a recipient of EU aid. . . .

Clearly, the EU’s approach to aid allocation has nothing to do with impartiality, true social-welfare needs, or humanitarian considerations. [Instead], it favors allocations to Syrian refugees above Yemeni refugees because of the higher probability that Syrian refugees will find their way to Europe. . . . The recipients of European largesse who are next in line [to Syrians], in relative terms, are the Palestinians. [This particular policy] can be attributed primarily to the EU’s hostility toward Israel, its rightful historical claims, and its security needs.

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More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinians