Wed. May 29th, 2024

Democrats knock Johnson for suggesting George Soros behind campus protests

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May24,2024

Jewish Democrats are admonishing Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) this week after the Republican leader suggested George Soros is behind the pro-Palestinian protests roiling colleges campuses across the country. 

The Democrats — many of them highly critical of the anti-Israel demonstrations, which they say cross a line into antisemitism — are accusing Johnson of that same offense for elevating unfounded theories that Soros, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, is funding the student protesters to foment social unrest.

That baseless argument fits a larger narrative long promoted in some conservative circles: that Soros has used his prodigious wealth to manipulate global events for the sole purpose of advancing personal interests.

The irony, the Democrats note, is that the Soros portrayal is, itself, a patent antisemitic trope. By suggesting Soros is fueling the university clashes, the Democrats contend, Johnson and other Republicans are promoting hostility against Jews in the name of fighting it.

“You can’t fight antisemitism with antisemitism,” Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) said.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), another prominent Jewish lawmaker, offered a similar denouncement.  

“Not even 24 hours after passing a do-nothing bill under the guise of ‘fighting antisemitism,’ @SpeakerJohnson drags out one of the oldest antisemitic tropes in world,” Nadler wrote on the social platform X.

The pushback arrives after Johnson, in an interview with NewsNation’s “The Hill” program, floated the notion that the university protests against Israel’s war in Gaza are not grassroots demonstrations launched by students and professors upset with mounting civilian deaths, but rather are part of a larger global scheme to undermine Israeli influence. He suggested Soros might be involved, and the FBI should investigate. 

“I think [FBI officials] need to look at the root causes and find out if some of this was funded by, I don’t know, George Soros or overseas entities,” Johnson said. “There’s a sort of a common theme and a common strategy that seems to be pursued on many of these campuses.”

As evidence, Johnson said he and a handful of Republicans, during a recent visit to Columbia University, the site of one of the country’s fiercest protest rallies, noticed that many of the tents in the demonstrators’ encampment were identical. 

“They were the same color, make and model,” he said. “Hmm, did somebody purchase that and send it in? It looks pretty orchestrated to me.”

Johnson’s visit to Columbia was part of a broader campaign to condemn the pro-Palestinian demonstrations and the universities’ handling of the situation. In Manhattan, he called on the school’s president to resign, and in Washington, he launched a House-wide investigation into antisemitism in the U.S.

Democrats have dismissed the suggestion that the school protests are part of a broader international conspiracy to hobble Israel’s political power. And, even if that were the case, they’re perplexed by the accusation that a prominent Jewish figure would be leading that charge.  

“Starting a conspiracy theory about George Soros is a very suss way to be against antisemitism,” said Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio), another Jewish lawmaker.

Johnson’s office did not respond Thursday to several requests for comment. 

Unfounded Republican attacks on Soros are hardly new. Conservatives have, for years, gone after the billionaire philanthropist and his Open Society Foundations — which promotes democracy and human rights around the globe — because the tens of billions of dollars he’s donated over decades have gone largely to left-leaning groups. 

That track record — and the sheer amount of money involved — has made Soros a frequent target of voices on the right, who have accused him of everything from funding the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 to being “the anti-Christ.”  

And Johnson is not the only Republican who has invoked Soros when theorizing who is behind the college campus protests.

“Obviously, I think Soros is part of this,” Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) said Wednesday on Fox Business. “The FBI should be investigating that too. They should have been investigating Soros. He’s inciting, you know, violence, you know, and inciting, like, hate crimes … I mean those things need to be looked at.”

“I think a lot of it’s being funded by outside forces, including George Soros, those who are determined to disrupt and bring chaos into our country and divide our great nation,” Rep. Mark Alford (R-Mo.) said Monday on the same network.

The theory appears to hearken back to tenuous money trails between Soros-backed organizations and Palestinian groups that conservative media — Fox News and the New York Post, for example — have highlighted.

Last month, for example, Fox News pointed out that National Students for Justice in Palestine, which has been vocal amid the pro-Palestine campus protests, is overseen by Westchester People’s Action Coalition Foundation (WESPAC), which has received money from a Soros-backed nonprofit.

Fox News previously reported that, according to a watchdog group, WESPAC was given $132,000 from the Tides Foundation, a group that, according to The Washington Post, has taken in millions of dollars from Soros’s Open Society Foundations.

The Washington Post, however, reported that Students for Justice in Palestine has denied receiving any money from WESPAC, and noted that there is no public indication of the contribution.

A representative for the group told the newspaper that the company “neither funds nor influences our organization’s political activity but instead extends its legal tax-exempt status to us in order to support our mission.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Democrats knock Johnson for suggesting George Soros behind campus protests”
  1. It’s truly disheartening to see politicians like Johnson spreading baseless conspiracy theories about George Soros. By targeting a Jewish Holocaust survivor with these allegations, they are only perpetuating harmful antisemitic stereotypes and further fueling division.

  2. It’s disappointing to see Speaker Johnson perpetuate harmful stereotypes about Jews by suggesting George Soros is orchestrating protests. This kind of baseless accusation only fuels division and hate.

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