The British newspaper newspaper Financial Times on Wednesday announced that it was naming billionaire philanthropist George Soros its “person of the year.”
“The Financial Times’s choice of Person of the Year is usually a reflection of their achievements. In the case of Mr Soros this year, his selection is also about the values he represents,” the newspaper announced.
Just hours prior to the announcement, 32 organizations called on Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg to step down over campaigns against Soros.
“It’s an absolute disgrace that Facebook sought to deflect criticism and discredit advocates by exploiting anti-Semitic campaigns against philanthropist George Soros,” read their letter.
Soros, a major supporter of progressive causes, has become a major bogeyman of the far right.
He has come under fire for his funding for left-wing and human rights groups in Israel, and unfounded allegations that he collaborated with Nazis as a Jewish teen in Hungary during the Holocaust.
Soros, who was 13 in 1944, survived the Holocaust in the care of a Hungarian official whose job included taking inventory of confiscated Jewish-owned property.
Soros also served two days as a courier for the Judenrat until his father learned that his job was to deliver deportation notices to Jews. That account comes from a book written by Soros’s father, who also noted that Soros warned the recipients not to turn up to the designated address.
Much of the conspiracists’ case against Soros is based on an interview with “60 Minutes” in which the billionaire said he didn’t feel guilty for the sometimes cold-blooded passivity demanded of a child who hoped to survive genocide.
“To hold a young boy responsible for what was going on around him during the Holocaust as part of a larger effort to denigrate the man is repugnant,” Abraham Foxman, then the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in 2010.
Soros has been accused without evidence by US President Donald Trump, right-wing commentators and politicians of funding migrants heading to the US from Central America.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has faced accusations of using anti-Semitic tropes and imagery in its virulent campaigns against Soros.
The government was criticized for a billboard campaign deemed anti-Semitic, three days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to visit the country.
The posters showed a large picture of the Hungarian-born Jewish emigre laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.
Netanyahu’s son Yair last year published and then deleted a post that was criticized for being an anti-Semitic caricature of Soros.
A campaign of mail bomb attacks against Trump critics attributed to a far-right conspiracy theorist in October started with a pipe bomb package sent to Soros’s New York-area home.