During an easy-to-find interview, George Soros presents as a man who proudly and with a smile on his face stated that “the happiest time in [my] life was during Nazi occupation.” He smirks when talking about his role in confiscating property from Jews, and smugly says that he doesn’t care about the “social consequences” of what he does.
Even if there is an attempt to whitewash this behavior, and all of his behavior that has happened since, his formative years clearly made a lifelong impression. A person who does not feel empathy, compassion or pain for other people (especially his own people) and wields great power is a very dangerous person. The fact that he originally came from Jewish seed is a tragedy and should be a source of deep sadness and shame.
One can only wonder in shock at the time spent in a Jewish publication defending him.
Chaim Stern Potomac, Maryland
Rabbi Shafran responds:
Dear Mr. Stern,
I had, and have, no interest in defending Mr. Soros for objectionable positions he holds or statements he has made — like several positions and statements that my column has clearly noted.
But, in the interests of truth, the misrepresentation by some irresponsible media of the comment you cite needs to be corrected.
In the interview you reference (as in the foreword to a book he wrote), Soros was explaining how, despite the danger he faced as a Jewish 14-year-old in German-occupied Hungary, he was made to feel secure by a loving father. The “happiness” Mr. Soros recalls was not about what was happening to Jews.
As to his “role in confiscating property from Jews,” as I explained in my column, the boy was placed by his father, for his son’s safety, in the care of a Hungarian functionary tasked with taking inventory at Jewish homes. Witnessing his protector making notes was the extent of the young Soros’ “role” in the confiscations that later took place.
I think we need — in contrast to the sad “new normal” these days — to resist the temptation to simplistically label people “good” or “evil.”
We can certainly choose to be critical of Mr. Soros, but should do so on the basis of his actual positions or actions, not distortions of fact or quotes wrenched out of context.