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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Soros to sponsor 'Dovish' alternative to AIPAC

This is just what we didn't need. JTA is reporting that a top staffer for billionaire philanthropist George Soros met recently with senior representatives of the dovish pro-Israel community to discuss setting up an alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Morton Halperin, a director of Soros’ Open Society Institute and a veteran of senior positions in the Clinton, Nixon and Johnson administrations, confirmed to JTA that the meeting took place late last month. He would not add details.

“It was a private meeting, it was an effort to get this off the ground,” said Halperin, who directs the institute’s U.S. advocacy.

The meeting focused on how best to press 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.

Contacted by JTA, an AIPAC spokesman said he was not aware of the effort, but officials with the group did not express any concern that the new initiative posed a threat.

JTA has learned from a variety of sources that a follow-up meeting focused on funding will take place in New York on Oct. 26.

Soros is to attend, and other major Jewish liberals are invited, including Peter Lewis, who like Soros is a major contributor to MoveOn.org, the Web-based, liberal fund-raising group; Edgar and Charles Bronfman, former liquor magnates who are major contributors to Israel and Jewish causes; and Mel Levine, a former Democratic congressman and high-powered West Coast lawyer.

If it comes to fruition, it would be Soros’ first major venture into Israel advocacy. Soros drew fire from some Jews in 2003 when at a conference on funding for Israel, he suggested that Israel bore some responsibility for the outbreak of anti-Semitism in Europe because of its stiff response to Palestinian terrorism during the intifada.

Oct. 26 also is the date of a New York City retreat for board members of the Israel Policy Forum, a dovish pro-Israel group whose executive director, David Elcott, is leading the new initiative with Halperin. It’s not clear whether the potential funders will meet at the board retreat, or separately.
For those of you who are not familiar with these organizations: On September 28 in New York City, the Open Society Institute ran a forum entitled OSI Forum: The Iron Cage—The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, at which the only speaker was Columbia University Professor (and director of its Middle East Institute) Rashid Kalidi. To get some idea of who Khalidi is go here and scroll down to Hate 101.

I have previously discussed anti-Semitism at MoveOn.org here.

Before Secretary of State Rice's recent trip to the Middle East, the Israel Policy Forum sent her a letter, in which it called for her - among other things - to 'work with' the 'Saudi initiative' and 'engage' Syria.

All of these organizations place a 'Palestinian state' as a higher priority than a secure Israel.

Read the whole thing.


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