On the surface, the declaration of U.S. President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudolph Giuliani that billionaire philanthropist and Holocaust survivor George Soros is “hardly a Jew,” an “enemy of Israel” and that the Catholic former New York mayor is “more of a Jew than Soros is” appeared to be a breathtaking display of chutzpah.
As angry as Giuliani’s critics may be for his presumptuous decision to be, as Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt put it, “the arbiter of who is Jewish and who is not, or what is anti-Semitic and what is not,” the president’s attorney’s statements need to be put into context.
Giuliani was, after all, echoing sentiments previously expressed by prominent and powerful Jews in both the United States and Israel – most prominently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his son Yair and their allies in the right-wing Israeli and American Jewish circles in which Giuliani travels.
Greenblatt was the American Jewish leader who came down hardest on Giuliani, demanding an apology for Giuliani’s “baffling and offensive” words.
“For decades, George Soros’ philanthropy has been used as fodder for outsized anti-Semitic conspiracy theories insisting there exists Jewish control and manipulation of countries and global events,” Greenblatt told the Daily Beast. “Mr. Giuliani should apologize and retract his comments immediately, unless he seeks to dog whistle to hardcore anti-Semites and white supremacists who believe this garbage.”
Giuliani’s attack on Soros took place during the former’s boozy interview with New York Magazine journalist Olivia Nuzzi, published under the headline “A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel.” Between cocktails, Giuliani repeated a popular right-wing deep state conspiracy theory, asserting that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch – Giuliani was active in having her removed – was a puppet “controlled” by Soros, who had “put four ambassadors” in their posts and is “employing the FBI agents.”
Giuliani then launched an attempted preemptive strike against those who would call his statements racist: “Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him. Soros is hardly a Jew. I’m more of a Jew than Soros is. I probably know more about – he doesn’t go to church, he doesn’t go to religion – synagogue. He doesn’t belong to a synagogue, he doesn’t support Israel, he’s an enemy of Israel. He’s elected eight anarchist DAs in the United States. He’s a horrible human being.”