- Multi-billionaire funder of leftwing causes and groups
- Founder of the Open Society Institute
- Stated that defeating President Bush in the 2004 election "is the central focus of my life"
George Soros is a Hungarian immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1956, at age 26, and made his fortune as an international financier. His father, who was born into an Orthodox Jewish family, changed the family name from Schwartz to Soros in 1936 - a move that enabled the Soros family to conceal its Jewish identity and thus survive the Nazi Holocaust. In 1947 the family emigrated from Hungary to England, where an event occurred that greatly influenced the development of George's personality and worldview. He broke his leg and was cared for by England's National Health Service, free of charge, while the Jewish relief agencies of that era did not offer him the help he believed they owed him. In that convergence of events was born Soros' favorable opinion of Democratic Socialism, and his negative view of many Jewish groups.
In 1956 Soros started life in America with very little money but a well-developed knowledge of investing, thanks to his education at the London School of Economics and his experience working for a London stockbroker. He transformed his meager seed money into a huge fortune by becoming one of the world's leading hedge fund investors and currency traders. In 1969 he started his enormously successful Quantum Fund, which, over the ensuing three decades, yielded its long-term investors a four thousand-fold increase on their initial 1969 investments. During his career, Soros has orchestrated some extremely risky, ethically questionable deals. For instance, in a $10 billion 1992 deal whose success was contingent upon the devaluation of the British Pound, he earned himself a $1 billion profit and the title, "the man who broke the Bank of England." Over the years, he has amassed a personal fortune of some $7 billion.
In 1979 Soros founded the Open Society Fund, and since then has created a large network of foundations that give away hundreds of millions of dollars each year, much of it to individuals and organizations that share and promote his leftist philosophy. He believes that in order to prevent right-wing fascism from overrunning the world, a strong leftist counterbalance is essential. Asserting that America needed "a regime change" to oust President Bush, Soros maintained that he would gladly have traded his entire fortune in exchange for a Bush defeat in the 2004 election. In a November 2003 interview with the Washington Post's Laura Blumenfeld, he stated that defeating President Bush in 2004 "is the central focus of my life". . . "a matter of life and death." "America under Bush," he said, "is a danger to the world, and I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is." Claiming that "the Republican party has been captured by a bunch of extremists," Soros accuses the Bush administration of following a "supremacist ideology" in whose rhetoric he claims to hear echoes from his childhood in occupied Hungary. "When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' " he explains, "it reminds me of the Germans. It conjures up memories of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit (The enemy is listening). My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me."
Soros pledged to raise $75 million to defeat President Bush in the 2004 Presidential election, and personally donated nearly a third of that amount to anti-Bush groups (see The Shadow Party). He gave $5 million to MoveOn.org, the group that produced political ads likening Bush to Adolf Hitler. He also contributed $10 million to a Democratic Party 2004 get-out-the-vote initiative called America Coming Together, whose directors include representatives from the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, the Service Employees International Union, and EMILY's List. He further pledged $3 million to the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think-tank headed by former Clinton chief-of-staff John Podesta.
PBS broadcaster and Schumann Center for Media and Democracy President Bill Moyers is a trustee of the Open Society Institute's Board of Directors. The network of Soros foundations - the most prominent of which is the Open Society Institute - supports a wide array of leftist groups and causes.
In August 2006 Soros wrote a Wall Street Journal piece titled "A Self-Defeating War." The article's premise is that "the war on terror is a false metaphor that has led to counterproductive and self-defeating policies." "Five years after 9/11," Soros elaborates, "a misleading figure of speech applied literally has unleashed a real war fought on several fronts -- Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Somalia -- a war that has killed thousands of innocent civilians and enraged millions around the world. Yet al Qaeda has not been subdued."
According to Soros, "[T]errorism is an abstraction. It lumps together all political movements that use terrorist tactics. Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Sunni insurrection and the Mahdi army in Iraq are very different forces, but President Bush's global war on terror prevents us from differentiating between them and dealing with them accordingly. It inhibits much-needed negotiations with Iran and Syria because they are states that support terrorist groups." "The war on terror," adds Soros, "emphasizes military action while most territorial conflicts require political solutions. ... [It] drives a wedge between 'us' and 'them.' We are innocent victims. They are perpetrators. But we fail to notice that we also become perpetrators in the process; the rest of the world, however, does notice. That is how such a wide gap has arisen between America and much of the world. Taken together, these ... factors ensure that the war on terror cannot be won. An endless war waged against an unseen enemy is doing great damage to our power and prestige abroad and to our open society at home."
In December of 2006, Soros met with Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama in his New York office. Soros had previously hosted a fund-raiser for Obama during the latter's 2004 campaign for the Senate. On January 16, 2007, Obama announced the creation of a presidential exploratory committee, and within hours Soros sent the senator a contribution of $2,100, the maximum amount allowable under campaign finance laws. Later that week the New York Daily News reported that Soros would back Obama over Senator Hillary Clinton, whom he had also supported in the past. Soros's announcement was seen as a repudiation of Clinton's presidential aspirations, though Soros said he would support the New York senator were she to win the Democratic nomination.
In early January 2007, Soros was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer of CNN. Blitzer began the interview by asking Soros about the following quote that appears in Soros's newly published book, The Age of Fallibility: "The Bush administration and the Nazi and communist regimes all engaged in the politics of fear. Indeed, the Bush administration has been able to improve on the techniques used by the Nazi and Communist propaganda machines by drawing on the innovations of the advertising and marketing industries." When Blitzer asked him to defend that assertion, Soros replied:
"You actually picked out the most incendiary part of the book, and I am very careful to draw a clear distinction between the Nazi regime and our open society, because we are a democracy. But there are some similarities in the propaganda methods, which I pointed out. ... I think there are some serious arguments about our open society being endangered by the policies followed by the Bush administration. The war on terror, which does not have an end, changes, it leads to an undue extension of executive powers. It has stifled debate. Criticizing the president is considered unpatriotic, and as a result, we have been following policies which endanger our traditional [unintelligible]."
"A lot of people will agree with you on that," said Blitzer. "But where they will starkly disagree is to then bring in the whole Nazi and Communist comparison." Soros replied: "Actually, it's a valid point, and maybe I did go over the line, but I think that on the whole my assessment is a balanced one. And frankly, when President Bush said, 'you are either with us or you are with the terrorists,' that's when I was reminded. But I should have probably kept it to myself."
While criticizing the Iraq War for the benefit of reporters at the January 2007 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Soros unburdened himself of the view that Nazis were now running the United States government. "America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany," Soros explained. "We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process." Lest there be doubts that Soros was actually likening his adoptive country to the Third Reich and the Bush administration to the Nazi nomenklatura, a Soros spokesman, Michael Vachon, moved quickly to dispel them. "There is nothing unpatriotic about demanding accountability from the president," he said of Soros's appeal for de-Nazification. "Those responsible for taking America into this needless war should do us all a favor and retire from public office."
In the April 12, 2007 issue of the New York Review of Books, Soros penned an article titled "On Israel, America and AIPAC," wherein he derided the Bush administration for "committing a major policy blunder in the Middle East" by "supporting the Israeli government in its refusal to recognize a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, which the U.S. State Department considers a terrorist organization." In Soros' calculus, "This precludes any progress toward a peace settlement at a time when progress on the Palestinian problem could help avert a conflagration in the greater Middle East." "Israel," said Soros, "with the strong backing of the United States, refused to recognize the democratically elected Hamas government and withheld payment of the millions in taxes collected by the Israelis on its behalf. This caused great economic hardship and undermined the ability of the government to function. But it did not reduce popular support for Hamas among Palestinians, and it reinforced the position of Islamic and other extremists who oppose negotiations with Israel. … [Hamas] was not willing to go so far as to recognize the existence of Israel but it was prepared to enter into a government of national unity which would have abided by the existing agreements with Israel. … But both Israel and the United States seem to be frozen in their unwillingness to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority that includes Hamas. The sticking point is Hamas's unwillingness to recognize the existence of Israel; but that [recognition] could be made a condition for an eventual settlement rather than a precondition for negotiations. … The current policy of not seeking a political solution but pursuing military escalation—not just an eye for an eye but roughly speaking ten Palestinian lives for every Israeli one—has reached a particularly dangerous point."
Soros and his foundations have had a hand in funding a host of leftist organizations, including the Tides Foundation; the Tides Center; the National Organization for Women; Feminist Majority; the American Civil Liberties Union; People for the American Way; Alliance for Justice; NARAL Pro-Choice America; America Coming Together; the Center for American Progress; Campaign for America's Future; Amnesty International; the Sentencing Project; the Center for Community Change; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Human Rights Watch; the Prison Moratorium Project; the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; the National Lawyers Guild; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the Coalition for an International Criminal Court; The American Prospect; MoveOn.org; Planned Parenthood; the Nation Institute; the Brennan Center for Justice; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the National Security Archive Fund; the Pacifica Foundation; Physicians for Human Rights; the Proteus Fund; the Public Citizen Foundation; the Urban Institute; the American Friends Service Committee; Catholics for a Free Choice; Human Rights First; the Independent Media Institute; MADRE; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; the Immigrant Legal Resource Center; the National Immigration Law Center; the National Immigration Forum; the National Council of La Raza; the American Immigration Law Foundation; the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee; and the Peace and Security Funders Group.