Benjamin Netanyahu and George Soros.
(photo credit: REUTERS + MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros is behind the public campaign against the government’s plan to deport Sudanese and Eritrean migrants to a third country in Africa, widely believed to be Rwanda, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Netanyahu made the comments at the weekly meeting of the Likud ministers. He also said that former US president Barack Obama “deported two million infiltrators, and no one said anything.”
The comments came in reply to Science Minister Ofir Akunis, who claimed that foreign governments were behind the campaign to prevent the deportations.
Soros, who is Jewish, is a strident critic of Israel and has supported a number of NGOs with radical left-wing agendas, such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din and al-Haq.
A source close to Netanyahu said the prime minister was referring to the fact Soros contributes to the New Israel Fund, a left-leaning clearinghouse for Israeli civil rights groups, which in turn funds organizations that oppose the deportations.
The New Israel Fund received $837,500 from 2002 to 2015 from Soros’s Open Societies Foundations, according to e-mails leaked online via the site DCLeaks in 2016.
Soros was the victim over the summer of an anti-immigrant billboard campaign sponsored by the Hungarian government, which many in the Jewish community there believed had antisemitic overtones. Soros called on Hungary to allow refugees into Hungary and the EU.
Interview with MK Tamar Zandberg at the 2018 INSS Conference
The posters, some of which were defaced with antisemitic graffiti, had a picture of Soros laughing, alongside the words, “Let’s not leave Soros the last laugh.”
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg responded to Netanyahu’s comment by saying his decision to “deflect the fire to George Soros should worry us all.”
Zandberg said that Hungary has been “carrying out an antisemitic campaign against Soros” for the past year, a campaign which she said the Foreign Ministry has warned against, and which Hungarian Jews fear.
“Netanyahu’s decision to light a fire around that antisemitic campaign and to join it is a direct continuation of the dangerous ties that exist between the Likud and the extreme right-wing parties in Europe,” she said.
Soros told Channel 10 News that “unlike Netanyahu’s false claims, I am not finding the protests against deporting thousands of African refuge-seekers from Israel. However, I believe deeply that, according to the convention on refugees and international law, it is wrong to forcibly send refuge- seekers back to lands in which they can be persecuted or killed.”