Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wondering what happened to the Soros alternative Israel Lobby?

In case you are wondering what happened to the rumored pro-peace Israel lobby that was to have been started by billionaire George Soros (I was wondering too), there is this note in the Forward:
While the debate is reaching a boiling point in the public sphere, work on the ground on establishing a new lobbying apparatus by dovish Jewish groups and individuals is moving at a much slower pace.
The initiative was initially called in media reports "the Soros lobby," after the financier attended an exploratory meeting last fall in New York to discuss creating a new lobby. Since that meeting, however, Soros has shown no further interest in the effort, organizers said.
"He met with us once and that's it," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, one of the main figures behind the initiative. Ben-Ami stressed that that Soros has not yet pledged any funds for the new advocacy group and that the initiative is still in need of donors. Many in the group now refer to it jokingly as the "non-Soros lobby."
It is not clear that Israel needs an anti-Israel Israel lobby, as there are groups that already perform that function. It is clear however, that several forces are converging to mount an attack on AIPAC and on Zionist advocacy in the United States. Some of it is due to extremist stands taken by AIPAC, but some of the attacks are grossly unfair. Soros's article in the New York Review of Books  did what many of these critics do consistently: he confounded legitimate dovish views and criticism of Israeli policy with anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic propaganda. He presents perfectly legitimate views of a given person and writes something like,  "See, what's wrong with that? Why are the Zionist extremists attacking the poor fellow?  But he does not tell you that the "poor fellow" is not being attacked for advocating a peace solution, but rather for making off-the-wall anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic assertions.  For example, Soros tells us that Alvin Rosenfeld, in his study of anti-Semitism, condemns:
Richard Cohen, a Washington Post columnist, who wrote, among other things, that the "sanest choice for Israel is to pull back to defensible—but hardly injurious—borders" and to get out "of most of the West Bank"—a policy often advocated in Israel itself.
Poor Cohen, a real peace martyr. But what drew Reosenfeld's ire was not Cohen's suggestion above, but rather his article in the Washington Post that claimed that Israel is a mistake of history. Perhaps Cohen is a mistake of history. Soros's speculations about Middle East policy are amateurish and certainly open to debate. If Israel had only recognized the results of the Palestinian elections, it would have strengthened the moderate wing of the Hamas. This childish idea may be convincing to Americans who think the Hamas is like an American political party. This is the Middle East and not the United States.
Soros should stick to the world of finance. He does not understand that the Hamas is controlled by the Syrian army Mukhabarat (secret police). It is not a democracy where everyone has equal votes. Damascus and Tehran decided policy, at least at the time. Perhaps Saudi Arabia has more influence now.  In any case, no wing of the Hamas was proposing to recognize Israel. How could Israel legitimize the election of a party that vows not to recognize Israel?
Ami Isseroff

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