British paper accusing George Soros of ‘secret plot’ to nix Brexit not anti-Semitic, watchdog says


(JTA) — A prominent organization monitoring anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom defended as legitimate a controversial newspaper article claiming billionaire George Soros was funding anti-Brexit groups.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism’s defense of Wednesday’s article in The Daily Telegraph followed accusations that its framing and wording on Soros, who is Jewish and not a citizen of the United Kingdom, were anti-Semitic.

Of particular concern to critics was a headline accusing Soros of “backing a secret plot to thwart Brexit” — language that BuzzFeed special correspondent James Ball denounced as playing “into authoritarian and anti-Semitic tropes which have taken root in far-right movements across Europe and America.”

The Telegraph reported late Wednesday that Soros, who funds many left-leaning organizations and initiatives worldwide, has delivered $553,000 to the anti-Brexit Best for Britain campaign via his Open Society Foundations.

He also hosted big-money donors at his London home as part of the group’s goal to raise support to nix the implementation of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of voters in 2016 supported having the United Kingdom pull out of the European Union.

It is “indisputable that George Soros has, in recent years, been subjected to antisemitic campaigns around the world, painting him as a shadowy Jewish bogeyman,” Gidon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said in a statement.

But, he added, “If Mr. Soros intervenes in British politics, it is legitimate for him to attract political scrutiny, which of course must not stray into antisemitism. We consider that today’s article was innocuous, though its headline was poorly chosen by the Daily Telegraph’s editors.”

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