President Donald Trump’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros are “straight out of Putin’s playbook,” explained a journalist who fled the U.S.S.R in fear of anti-Semitism under Communism and has extensively reported from Russia.
Julia Ioffe, a correspondent for GQ magazine, joined MSNBC’s “Hardball” on Monday to add context to the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg.
“The reason we came to the United States from the Soviet Union — we came as refugees, fleeing anti-Semitism — was because in the summer of 1988, my mother was stuck in the Russian countryside with me,” she noted. “I was 5, my little sister was six months old, there was no phone, no connection to the outside world and very persistent rumors going around about a pogrom, anti-Jewish pogrom and riot.”
“She realized she lived in a country where the political climate had become so permissive that it was completely extremely plausible and that she didn’t want to raise her kids in a country like that,” she continued. “And watching my parents’ response to — and their hearts break watching what happened at Squirrel Hill, my father actually called it an old-fashioned pogrom — has been frankly heart-breaking.”
Ioffe also examined Trump’s rhetoric from her experience reporting from Russia.
“The one thing I would add about George Soros, when I was a reporter in Russia, I heard about George Soros’s ‘pernicious’ political influence all the time. That he was not Russian, he was nefariously controlling all these people and controlling Russian affairs with all his money — that was in Russia,” Ioffe noted. “I never expected to see it here.”
“I feel like it was plucked straight out of Putin’s playbook,” she added.