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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why does Soros matter?

Why does it matter whether George Soros is funding J Street? Well, for starters because Soros is toxic in the American Jewish community. In a 2003 speech, he accused Jews and Israel of causing anti-Semitism.
It's not often that George Soros, the billionaire financier and philanthropist, makes an appearance before a Jewish audience.

It's even rarer for him to use such an occasion to talk about Israel, Jews and his own role in effecting political change.

So when Soros stepped to the podium Wednesday to address those issues at a conference of the Jewish Funders Network, audience members were listening carefully.

Many were surprised by what they heard.
When asked about anti-Semitism in Europe, Soros, who is Jewish, said European anti-Semitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States.
"There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that," Soros said. "It's not specifically anti-Semitism, but it does manifest itself in anti-Semitism as well. I'm critical of those policies."

"If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish," he said. "I can't see how one could confront it directly."

That is a point made by Israel's most vociferous critics, whom some Jewish activists charge with using anti-Zionism as a guise for anti-Semitism.

ASSOCIATES said Soros' appearance Wednesday was the first they could ever recall in which the billionaire, a Hungarian-born U.S. Jew who escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to London as a child, had spoken in front of a Jewish group or attended a Jewish function.

The one-day meeting on funding in Israel, which took place at the Harvard Club in New York, was limited mostly to representatives of Jewish philanthropic foundations.
After Soros' speech, Michael Steinhardt, the real-estate magnate and Jewish philanthropist who arranged for Soros to address the group, said in an interview that Soros' views do not reflect those of most Jewish millionaires or philanthropists.
He also pointed out that this was Soros' first speech to a Jewish audience.

Steinhardt approached the lectern and interrupted Soros immediately after his remarks on anti-Semitism.

"George Soros does not think Jews should be hated any more than they deserve to be," Steinhardt said by way of clarification, eliciting chuckles from the audience.

Steinhardt then gave the lectern back to Soros, who said he had something to add to his remarks on the issue of anti-Semitism. Soros then paused to ask if there were any journalists in the room.

When he learned that there were, Soros withheld further comment.
Because Soros is considered toxic, J Street denied that he was funding them.
From the J Street website:
Liberal financier George Soros founded and is the primary funder of J Street.

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.

J Street has thousands of donors, large and small. The supporters of the political action committee (JStreetPAC) can be publicly reviewed on the website of the Federal Election Commission. The top donors to J Street are members of the organization's Finance Committee - listed in its annual report on page 9 (PDF). Many of its major donors are also members of its Advisory Council.
The part of the website dealing with Soros had not been updated for three years, until last night.

J Street confirmed that it added a new "Myth" last night: that "J Street has said it doesn't receive money from George Soros, but now news reports indicate that he has in fact contributed." A disclosure of Soros' donations follows below on the page, which you can see here.
Ironically, J Street tried to use Lenny Ben David - who like me is Sabbath observant and therefore was not online when this story broke - as cover for having disclosed their connection to Soros in the past.
UPDATE: A J Street spokesperson says Ben-Ami has acknowledged Soros's donations to reporters on numerous occasions and suppled this as published evidence of prior acknowledgement: Occasional Jerusalem Post columnist Lenny Ben-David, a critic of J Street, wrote that Ben-Ami had previously acknowledged Soros funding at a small gathering in Florida. In a comment posted to an op-ed Ben-Ami placed in the Jerusalem Post in January, Ben-David commented:
Last month Ben-Ami spoke before a group of donors in FL where, according to participants, he admitted that financier George Soros was a founder and funder. The JP already exposed pro-Arab, pro-Iran donors.

There is a dearth of public admissions, or denials, of Soros funding by Ben-Ami--in fact none, that I've found--so it's difficult to ascertain how open J Street was about the donations, from any source other than its un-updated web page.
No comments received from Lenny yet.

And Soros is known to be downright hostile to Israel.
Soros's views on Israel have put him outside the mainstream of American Jewish politics for a while, both because he's to the left of center -- though he's not alone there -- and because he has no particular warmth for Israel.

"I don't deny the Jews their right to a national existence--but I don't want to be part of it," he told the New Yorker a few years ago, suggesting that Jews should overcoming anti-Semitism by "giv[ing] up on the tribalness."

You can see why J Stret didn't want to advertise his ties, as he's not a particularly "pro-Israel" figure. And the 2004 election turned him into the sort of exaggerated caricature that Democrats are now trying to make of the Kochs.
All of which exposes J Street for what many of us in the pro-Israel community have said it is all along: Neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace but pro-Obama.


At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

".....Still kapo after all these years....."

At 12:21 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Carl.
I suppose George Soros only loves Money?Thanks for all the great info.
Have a great week!

At 3:26 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

As Shy Guy would say, he matters because he has a lot of money.

Some people are just the wrong kind of influence on this world.


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