Jewish Right To Israel

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Beware The Mark Of Soros! Soros And J Street From The Beginning

Soccer Dad reminds me that I started posting about Soros and J Street before there even was a J Street--back in November 2006: A Kinder, Gentler Alternative To AIPAC?:
A kinder, gentler alternative to AIPAC may be in the works.

On board with this is George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and major contributor to MoveOn.org, who sent a top staffer to a meeting in September to explore the possibilities, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
The September meeting — and other related meetings — focused on how best to press the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration to back greater U.S. engagement toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how to better represent American Jews who don’t buy into AIPAC’s often hawkish policies.

At the time, I wrote that some of the inspiration was based on the success of IPF, APN and Brit Tzedek in killing the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, which would have cut off US aid to the Palestinian Authority until it renounced terrorism and recognized Israel. The groups successfully lobbied to to revised the bill, added exceptions for assistance to Mahmoud Abbas,and gave the president greater power to waive the sanctions and remove parts of the bill that would have restricted aid to NGOs working with the Palestinians. In the end, the differences between the Senate and House versions were considered so irreconcilable that the bill was never signed.

Michael Lerner, founding editor of the liberal bimonthly Tikkun, wrote in an email to the magazine’s contributors early this month that he is in the process of exploring the possibility of working with the former president [Jimmy Carter] to build support for a left-wing alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Lerner mentioned that he and Carter had just spoken on the phone about the issue, but declined to discuss specifics, saying the chat was confidential.

Lerner is not alone among Jews on the left eager to launch a counterweight to the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse. The Forward and JTA have reported that financier George Soros has been consulting with leaders of dovish groups, including the Israel Policy ForumAmericans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, on launching some sort of pro-peace process initiative. 
In an interview with the Forward, Lerner said that his envisioned collaboration with Carter would be in harmony with the efforts of Soros and liberal Jewish groups, not in competition with them. [emphasis added]
Having Jimmy Carter involved in the proposed project was a nice touch.

In April 2007, Soros wrote a piece for the New York Review Of Books, making clear his feelings about AIPAC--and in particular the need for the Democratic party to distance itself from it:
Whether the Democratic Party can liberate itself from AIPAC's influence is highly doubtful. Any politician who dares to expose AIPAC's influence would incur its wrath; so very few can be expected to do so. It is up to the American Jewish community itself to rein in the organization that claims to represent it. But this is not possible without first disposing of the most insidious argument put forward by the defenders of the current policies: that the critics of Israel's policies of occupation, control, and repression on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and Gaza engender anti-Semitism.
Soros was busy. In May 2007, The American Thinker wrote that the Center for American Progress (CAP), was countering Daily Alert (Prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) with an alternative news and opinion service: The Middle East Bulletin.--funded by George Soros.

By the time J Street announced itself, they were obviously eager to distance themselves from Soros:
MoveOn financier George Soros, an initial backer of the concept for the group, pulled out of it, [executive director of J Street, Jeremy] Ben Ami explains, because he thought his presence might ultimately be unhelpful, given his reputation as a bankroller for liberal groups.
Actually, any connection between J Street and Soros was considered a lot more than just 'unhelpful':
Planners remain secretive in large part to avoid a repetition of last year’s controversy. Early reports about an AIPAC competitor that would amalgamate the efforts of the major pro-peace process groups, with possible funding by mega-philanthropist and progressive activist George Soros, produced a storm of unwanted publicity and scared off some potential participants.
In November 2009, Jennifer Rubin already noted connections between J Street and Soros:
[W]e see once again the presence of Morton Halperin. He is both on J Street’s advisory board and a senior adviser to Soros’s Open Society Institute. He was recently fingered as the actual author of a letter by Richard Goldstone defending his infamous report and opposing a congressional resolution condemning the report. He too is part of the cabal to get Dennis Ross. And NIAC sought a White House meeting for Halperin and NIAC officials. Again, all one big happy family.
Read the whole thing.

So it really was no surprise to read Eli Lake's article that Soros revealed as funder of liberal Jewish-American lobby:
The Jewish-American advocacy group J Street, which bills itself as the dovish alternative to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby, has secretly received funding from billionaire George Soros despite previous denials that it accepted funds from the Hungarian-born financier and liberal political activist.

Tax forms obtained by The Washington Times reveal that Mr. Soros and his two children, Jonathan and Andrea Soros, contributed a total $245,000 to J Street from one Manhattan address in New York during the fiscal year from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.

The contributions represent a third of the group's revenue from U.S. sources during the period. Nearly half of J Street's revenue during the timeframe — a total of $811,697 — however, came from a single donor in Happy Valley, Hong Kong, named Consolacion Esdicul.

Jeremy Ben Ami, J Street's executive director, said in an interview that the $245,000 was part of a $750,000 gift from the Soros family to his organization made over three years. Mr. Ben Ami also said that in this same period he had raised $11 million for J Street and its political action committee.
This revelation was followed up by a denial by a denial by J Street--not a denial that Soros funding them, but rather that their previous denials were actually denials at all:
"George Soros did not found J Street. In fact, George Soros very publicly stated his decision not to be engaged in J Street when it was launched - precisely out of fear that his involvement would be used against the organization. J Street's Executive Director has stated many times that he would in fact be very pleased to have funding from Mr. Soros and the offer remains open to him to be a funder should he wish to support the effort."

In an interview, Ben-Ami denied that the conditional tense of the last sentence, and saying that an offer "remains open" leaves little room to infer Soros had given the group any money. He insisted that the characterization was truthful. "This was not founded by him, he didn't provide initial funding," he said. "I stand by the way that is phrased -- I still want him to support us more."

...Two days after the Washington Times story, Ben-Ami released a statement to followers apologizing for making misleading statements about Soros' role.

"I accept responsibility personally for being less than clear about Mr. Soros’ support once he did become a donor," Ben-Ami said in a statement posted on J Street's blog on Sunday. "I said Mr. Soros did not help launch J Street or provide its initial funding, and that is true. I also said we would be happy to take his support. But I did not go the extra step to add that he did in fact start providing support in the fall of 2008, six months after our launch."
Chris Good writes that J Street simply realized what Obama did:
Soros is seen as toxic to the American Jewish community, having suggested that Israel's policies contributed to global anti-Semitism. President Obama, at one point, had to distance himself from Soros because of Soros's views on Israel.
Michael Goldfarb notes that this is not the only lie that J Street has been telling. He quotes from the J Street website:
J Street receives no funding from any foreign government or agent - Arab or otherwise. J Street has no formal association with any other organizations - Arab or other. 

Nearly all of J Street's funding comes from Jewish Americans who seek peace and security for Israel and the whole Middle East. A small percentage of J Street's funding comes from non-Jewish Americans who share our desire for peace and security for all people in the Middle East and support the right of the Jewish people to a secure and democratic home in Israel.
Recall that in contradiction to this Eli Lake writes:
Nearly half of J Street's revenue during the timeframe — a total of $811,697 — however, came from a single donor in Happy Valley, Hong Kong, named Consolacion Esdicul.[emphasis added]
Goldfarb puts it simply:
Nearly half of J Street’s operating budget comes from a foreign national, but the group represents itself as being funded almost entirely by American Jews and by a few non-Jewish Americans – with “no funding from any foreign government or agent.” It’s all lies!
Putting aside the considerable funding that J Street receives from the extreme left wing--and controversial--George Soror, J Street consistently misled everyone, including its own members, about the J Street/Soros connection. More importantly, J Street misled everybody about the fact that the majority of its funding does not come from American Jews at all.

Just what kind of agenda would allow J Street to do that?
You decide.
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