Photo Credit: Harald Dettenborn via Wikimedia
George Soros

George Soros, 87, has given away most of his personal wealth, $18 billion to the Open Society Foundations, which offer financial support to left-leaning civil society groups around the world. According to the Financial Times, Soros has given to charity some $32 billion over his lifetime.

The Open Society Foundations’s website states their belief in “fundamental human rights, dignity, and the rule of law,” in a society where “all people are free to participate fully in civic, economic, and cultural life,” in addressing inequalities of “race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and citizenship,” in holding people in power accountable for their actions, helping people “press for change,” in responding “quickly and flexibly” to the critical threats to open society, in supporting “bold, innovative solutions,” and in “encouraging critical debate and respecting diverse opinions.”

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But according to Nicolas Guilhot of the French National Center for Scientific Research, the Open Society Foundations actually perpetuate institutions that support the existing social order. Guilhot argues that control over the social sciences by wealthy capitalists like Soros reinforces the kind of modernization which helps wealthy capitalists get wealthier. Despite his liberal reputation, Guilhot argues, Soros actually seeks to control society through the markets which he and a select few billionaires use to organize society.

In that context, the BBC reported that an OSF 2008 effort to spread human rights awareness among prostitutes in Uganda was rejected angrily by the Ugandan government, which saw it as an effort to legalize prostitution.

In July, NGO Monitor issued a statement on George Soros and the OSF, in response to anti-Semitic attacks on the aging billionaire by the Hungarian government and press, noting that while the attacks were disturbing, to say the least, there was a lot Soros could do – or rather stop doing – to add a needed measure of responsibility to his foundation’s activities. They mention in general ODF’s funding to NGOs that engage in political campaigns against Israel, including BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) and legal attacks (“lawfare”).

According to OSF’s 2016 budget, $27.8 million is allocated to programs in the Middle East. Funding recipients include fiercely and openly anti-Israeli NGOs Adalah, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Center for Constitutional Rights, Mada al Carmel, American Friends Service Committee, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Mossawa. Click here to read NGO Monitor’s 2013 report, Bad Investment: The Philanthropy of George Soros and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Tablet Magazine, Arutz Sheva, and The Jewish Press have all cited a 2014 OSF report which reads: “For a variety of reasons, we wanted to construct a diversified portfolio of grants dealing with Israel and Palestine, funding both Israeli Jewish and PCI (Palestinian Citizens of Israel) groups as well as building a portfolio of Palestinian grants and in all cases to maintain a low profile and relative distance—particularly on the advocacy front.” NGO monitor issued a follow-up report which says, “Soros has been a frequent critic of Israeli government policy, and does not consider himself a Zionist, but there is no evidence that he or his family holds any special hostility or opposition to the existence of the state of Israel. This report will show that their support, and that of the Open Society Foundation, has nevertheless gone to organizations with such agendas.”

“The evidence demonstrates that Open Society funding contributes significantly to anti-Israel campaigns in three important respects,” NGO Monitor reported: “1. Active in the ‘Durban strategy;’ 2. Funding aimed at weakening US support for Israel by shifting public opinion regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran; 3. Funding for Israeli political opposition groups on the fringes of Israeli society, which use the rhetoric of human rights to advocate for marginal political goals.”

The report concludes, “Yet, to what degree Soros, his family, and the Open Society Foundation are aware of the cumulative impact on Israel and of the political warfare conducted by many of their beneficiaries is an open question.”

Born in Hungary in 1930, Soros lived through the Nazi occupation of 1944–5, and the murder of more than 500,000 Hungarian Jews. His own Jewish family survived by securing false identity papers, concealing their backgrounds, and helping others do the same. Soros later recalled that “instead of submitting to our fate, we resisted an evil force that was much stronger than we were—yet we prevailed. Not only did we survive, but we managed to help others.”

Soros is best known as “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England.” With the European monetary system suffering from high German interest rates, Soros’s Quantum Fund placed a $10 billion wager that Britain would be compelled to devalue the pound sterling. His short sale of $10 billion worth of Pound sterling made Soros a profit of $1 billion during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.