No Zelensky is not related to Soros (and here’s why it’s antisemitic to think so)

Search trends on embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have taken a dark turn thanks to conspiracy theorists who believe he is related to Hungarian-American Jewish billionaire, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor George Soros.

No, they absolutely are not related

Tweets trying to connect Soros and Zelensky have been shared tens-of-thousands of times on the social media platform.

First, the Pentagon says they never issued a statement on Zelensky and Soros.

Second, according to the Anti-Defamation League, Soros is a frequent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories, and it didn’t take long for QAnon circles to latch on to the Jewish “family connection” between Soros and Zelensky. (In case you were wondering what that connection actually is… it’s that they are both Jewish… so naturally that was enough for people to go down the fake news rabbit hole.)

Third, Zelensky was born to two Jewish parents on January, 25, 1978, in the Ukrainian town of Kryvyi Rih. His father is a computer science professor and his mother is an engineer. The Ukrainian president said he grew up in an “ordinary Soviet Jewish family,” not a very religious one since “religion didn’t exist in the Soviet state as such.” Three of Zelensky’s grandfather’s brothers were killed in the Holocaust.

Fourth, Soros was born August 12, 1930, in Budapest, Hungary to a Jewish family. His foundation released the following statement: “The allegation that George Soros is related to somebody making news, in this case Ukraine’s president, has been the basis for many conspiracy theories in the past. This current one, just like those that came before it, is false.”

Classic antisemitism

According to the ADL, “in far-right circles worldwide, Soros’ philanthropy often is recast as fodder for outsized conspiracy theories, including claims that he masterminds specific global plots or manipulates particular events to further his goals. Many of those conspiracy theories employ longstanding antisemitic myths, particularly the notion that rich and powerful Jews work behind the scenes, plotting to control countries and manipulate global events.

“A person who promotes a Soros conspiracy theory may not intend to promulgate antisemitism. But Soros’ Jewish identity is so well-known that in many cases it is hard not to infer that meaning. This is especially true when Soros-related conspiracy theories include other well-worn antisemitic tropes such as control of the media or banks; references to undermining societies or destabilizing countries; or language that hearkens back to the medieval blood libels and the characterization of Jews as evil, demonic, or agents of the antichrist.

“Even if no antisemitic insinuation is intended, casting a Jewish individual as a puppet master who manipulates national events for malign purposes has the effect of mainstreaming antisemitic tropes and giving support, however unwitting, to bona fide antisemites and extremists who disseminate these ideas knowingly and with malice.”