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.