Philanthropy is a tough business. And these days Jewish philanthropy is tougher than ever. Why? Because in spite of the still high levels of giving reports show that increasingly fewer American Jews are taking care of their own. Apparently the bulk of the money that once went to specifically Jewish causes is now going to secular philanthropies or to prestigious causes that grant social status once denied to Jews.

That’s why groups are falling all over themselves in efforts to market themselves to the large numbers of unaffiliated Jews. That is obviously a good idea since there is much to gain from reaching this large demographic slice of the Jewish pie chart.

But all this reinventing and strategizing causes some of us to wonder just how far off the deep end many will go in order to please a constituency that is more or less defined by its distance from Jewish identity.

This was brought to mind by the appearance last week in New York of hedge-fund billionaire George Soros at a meeting of the Jewish Funders Network a gathering of Jewish philanthropic foundations. Soros was born in Hungary and fled the Holocaust as a child before making it big in this country. According to Forbes magazine he is worth $7 billion. The Washington Post however reported this week that he has already given away $5 billion to various causes though rarely to any connected to Jewish needs.

According to those who report about Soros his speech to the Jewish Funders was the first time anyone has seen him at a Jewish function let alone speaking at one. As such Soros is the quintessential unaffiliated Jew whose money charities covet. But as those in attendance soon discovered the problem with honoring such people is that there may be a good reason why they’ve never dipped into their fat wallets to help poor Jews or to defend the Jewish state: They don’t really care very much about us. Indeed Soros’s reported remarks at the event speak volumes about just how dangerous great wealth can be in the hands of an opinionated ignoramus.

Far from sharing the general concern about the rise of anti-Semitism and hatred for Israel throughout the world Soros seems to think it is at some level justified. In his opinion it is caused by ‘the policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration.’

His solution: ‘If we change that direction then anti-Semitism will diminish.’

Indeed the only thing remotely connected to Israel that Soros said he’s prepared to support is the so-called ‘Geneva initiative.’ That is the ‘peace’ plan funded by Europeans hostile to Israel and put forward by Israeli politicians who were rejected by their country’s voters.

‘Regime change’ in Jerusalem against the will of Israel’s people is George Soros’s idea of a Jewish cause.

All of which proves that while Americans have always believed that money talks there are some rich people who should not be listened to. Soros seems to have internalized every anti-Semitic canard in the book. First of all Jews do not cause anti-Semitism. Anti-Semites cause it. The source for hatred of Jews which has always been defended by a variety of rationales lies within the tortured psyches of those who hate not in the actions of Jews be they individuals or groups. 

Anti-Semites have spread hatred and violence because they think Jews are communists and because they think Jews are capitalists; because they are religious and because they are assimilated. Take your pick. All are equally bogus.

In its latest incarnation which hides under the guise of anti-Zionism anti-Semitism is justified by criticism of Israel’s actions against the Palestinian Arabs. If only there were no ‘occupation’ or no Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon we are told the vituperation would dry up. 

Nonsense. This hate has gained ground precisely during a decade when Israel made unprecedented (and unreciprocated) concessions in a vain effort to secure peace. And now we are told by people like Soros and European intellectuals choking on their own hatred of America that it is all President George W. Bush’s fault in part for his strong support for Israel and opposition to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.

‘America under Bush is a danger to the world ‘ Soros told The Washington Post this week. Wrongly invoking his status as a child survivor of the Holocaust Soros added ‘Bush reminds me of the Germans.’ Echoing the thinly veiled anti-Semitism of many extremist critics of the war in Iraq Soros claims ‘neoconservatives’ – a common codeword for Jews – aretrying to promote an agenda of ‘world domination.’

Coming in a week in which President Bush made a passionate appeal for the spread of democracy around the world – including the Arab and Muslim world where it remains virtually unknown – such remarks are especially egregious. Indeed while representatives of Jewish charities were fantasizing about getting Soros to back their efforts the Post reported that the billionaire is now concentrating his efforts on ousting Bush not re-discovering his Jewishroots.

So what difference does one obscenely rich out-of-control mogul make? In the big picture probably not much. All of Soros’s money will never be able to persuade Israel’s people to commit suicide to win the love of Europeans. Despite the confidence of some on theleft it won’t convince American Jews to put their weight behind proposals opposed by Israel’s people. Nor will it I suspect help convince most Americans that a Europe that stands for appeasement is right and that Washington’s stand for democracy and an unceasing war against terror are wrong.

But the willingness of so many Jews to bend their knees and tug their forelocks in Soros’s presence does trouble me. Yes Jewish causes desperately need help. And by definitionfundraising for worthy causes means putting our hands out to the rich. Many of those in attendance at the Jewish Funders Network have nobly dedicated their lives and their fortunes to aiding vital causes such as Jewish education.

There is nothing inherently wrong with opposing either Bush or Sharon. But there should be some limits to our willingness to kowtow to a man whose statements are profoundly destructive to Jewish security one who knowingly spreads hatred against his own people. Rather than trying to mollify Soros as many appear willing to do Jewish leaders need to stand up to him.

Yes Mr. Soros we wish we had your billions on our side. But if the price of that help is to give you a facade of respectability that you haven?t earned then my answer would be to keep your money. Kissing up to a man who justifies anti-Semitism is just too high a price to pay for a donation. 

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Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of JNS.org and a contributing writer for National Review. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.