The senseless killings of George Floyd and countless other Black Americans while in police custody have sparked the largest and most diverse mass protests in the history of the United States. You might think everyone would now be focusing on how to fix a system that has mercilessly subjugated, brutalized and killed Black and brown people in this country. But you would be wrong.
Instead of trying to come together and figure out how America can live up to its promise of equality for all, too many people prefer to stoke the flames of anti-Semitism. The wave of outrage over systemic racism has provoked anti-Semitic accusations that Jews — specifically my father, George Soros — are organizing the protests behind the scenes.
Blaming Jews for mass civil rights movements is a textbook white supremacy tactic that has been around for longer than anyone reading this article has been alive.
Consider this: My father was mentioned on Twitter in connection with the protests 500,000 times a day in late May and 68,746 times on Facebook throughout the month. That broke the record of 38,326 mentions in October 2018, when he was falsely accused of funding a migrant caravan to the southern border.
And these vile allegations are not confined to the margins of social media. Just last week, John Kass, a prominent conservative columnist for the Chicago Tribune, claimed that my father was somehow responsible for the unrest in Chicago and other American cities because of his support for a liberal approach to criminal justice, one that Kass alleged has allowed felons out on the streets and created an environment that feeds the protests.
Blaming Jews for mass civil rights movements is a textbook white supremacy tactic that has been around for longer than anyone reading this article has been alive. The logic is simple: Those who promote these lies want you to believe that Black and brown people are not smart or strategic enough to organize such actions themselves, so Jews must be pulling the strings.
This construct also ties into the abhorrent "replacement" conspiracy theory that flourishes in the darker corners of the internet, such as on 4chan, Gab and Reddit's now-suspended The_Donald subreddit: Evil Jewish financiers want to somehow replace white people with supposedly more pliant people of color.
This despicably racist online poison uses ideas and imagery that are directly drawn from the anti-Jewish propaganda of Nazi Germany — although the "replacement" theory remains a distinctly American manifestation of white supremacy. In 2017, American fascists chanted "Jews will not replace us" as they marched by torchlight in Charlottesville, Virginia. In his last online post, Robert Bowers, who shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, accused Jews of "bring[ing] in invaders that kill our people."
Just before that attack, as President Donald Trump and others whipped up fears over the migrant caravans in 2018, my father and other prominent liberal figures received operable explosive devices in the mail from a mentally ill Trump supporter. Now, with too many public figures fueling hate, suggesting that "Soros" is funding violent protests, it would be foolish not to be concerned.
The hatred, which is ripping apart the fabric of this country, does not deter my father or me. As a young teenager in his native Budapest, my father survived the extermination of Hungary's Jewish population under the Nazi occupation — an experience that shaped his view of the world. Since the early 1980s, he has given away more than $15 billion to further the ideal of an "open society" in which equality and the protection of one's fundamental individual rights are paramount.
It is not charity, and his outlook represents more than mere solidarity with others who have endured similar fates. He believes in an open society because Jews and other minorities need rights and equality under the law to prevent another Holocaust.
These notions can be a challenge to those who profit from an unjust status quo. Over the years, my father has made plenty of political enemies, from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who have been more than happy to use the tropes of anti-Semitism to present "Soros" as some kind of existential threat (even though $15 billion over three decades is peanuts compared to the wealth invested in keeping things the way they are).
So for us, the surge in online attacks on my father and me in the wake of the renewed energy around the Black Lives Matter movement is simply one more installment of a long, ugly story — the predictable reaction of those whose power and position are threatened by the demands of justice.
And we are not stopping. Earlier this month, our Open Society Foundations announced a $220 million commitment to help achieve racial equality in America, building on our existing work with groups engaged on issues including voting rights, education, drug policy reform and ending the blight of mass incarceration of Black Americans.
We will continue to fight to eradicate systemic racism in America. And we will never stop fighting the bigotry of those who sow discord, spread lies and engage in hateful, anti-Semitic rhetoric.