George Soros is Benjamin Netanyahu’s Haman the Evil. The prime minister is apparently convinced that the very mention of the Hungarian-born billionaire creates the kind of diversionary tumult that the Book of Esther’s archvillain sparks when his name his read out in synagogues on Purim. Singling out Soros is one of Netanyahu’s staple incitements, like his infamous election-day whine about Arabs coming to the polling booths in droves, although he may actually believe that a national trauma such as the planned expulsion of 40,000 African asylum seekers/refugees/infiltrators wouldn’t interest a soul were it not for the dollars pouring out of the pockets of such Israel-haters as Soros and the New Israel Fund. Netanyahu may think that - like him, perhaps - the Israeli public has lost all sense of justice or any ability to feel compassion.
Netanyahu knows full well that Soros is the Eternal Jew of anti-Semites, the red flag that they wave in order to inflame the bigoted and racist. He remembers the uproar that broke out in July among Hungarian Jews after he quashed an Israeli Foreign Ministry condemnation of the anti-Semitic, anti-Soros campaign waged by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party. He certainly hasn’t forgotten the glee that his son Yair sparked among neo-Nazis in September, when he posted a caricature maligning an employee of the Prime Minister’s Office who had complained against Sara Netanyahu, replete with hook-nosed Jew, reptilian anti-Semitic symbol and Soros as the puller of strings. Even if Netanyahu genuinely sees Soros as a dangerous leftist liberal and even if the controversial tycoon had contributed to the campaign against the deportation of the asylum seekers - which he’s denied, though it’s no crime - the prime minister of Israel is the last person on earth who should be putting a kosher stamp on the demonic Jewish stereotype that white supremacists, particularly in Eastern Europe, have fashioned around Soros in recent years.
Netanyahu’s willful blindness about Soros is directly linked to his denial, along with many others in the right, of the disturbing correlation between the support of Muslim-hating nationalist regimes for Israel and the Holocaust-denial and resentment of Jews that runs in their veins. From Lithuania to Croatia, from Hungary to the Ukraine, some of Israel’s best new friends are actively engaged in rewriting history, diminishing the Jewish Holocaust and absolving their people of rendering assistance to the murderous Nazi machine. Poland simply went a few bridges too far with its new Holocaust-obfuscating law, forcing Netanyahu to issue a rare rebuke. He failed to do so throughout last year, when Donald Trump praised neo-Nazis, encouraged white racism or marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day with an emphatic denial of the uniqueness of Hitler’s six million Jewish victims. Among Netanyahu’s allies in the Republican right - poised to field several anti-Semitic and/or neo-Nazi candidates in the upcoming Congressional elections - Soros serves as a familiar and favored punching bag.
By zeroing in on the Jewish Soros, Netanyahu is placing himself and his party shoulder to shoulder with anti-Semitic scum. Worse, he is tarring Israel itself. Perhaps the strenuous government efforts to equate opposition to its policies towards the Palestinians with a new anti-Semitism has made Netanyahu forget that the poster boys of classic hatred of Jews, in the Holocaust in particular and in modern times in general, weren’t Israeli soldiers or Jewish settlers but rich, cosmopolitan Jews like Soros, who were also accused of plotting to sully the Aryan race or to contaminate Christian blood by flooding the country with malevolent and inferior refugees. Technically, the Jewish state cannot be accused of anti-Semitism, but when Netanyahu repeatedly picks out Soros for blame, it is certainly cheering it on.