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December 19, 2008
Soros-influenced groups make inroads in Obama Administration
The transition team of Barack Obama met recently with a range of Jewish organizations, described by Politico as an “unusually broad spectrum of Jewish groups." The groups include hawkish ones who were critical of Barack Obama during the campaign but also included liberal groups whose approaches have been highly critical, not of Obama, but of Israel. These include Peace Now, J Street, the Israel Policy Forum, and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom. One participant noted that these latter groups had never met with George Bush. Apparently now they will have a voice in Washington.
Are there reasons for American supporters of Israel to be concerned? Perhaps. While we have been concerned at American Thinker over aspects of Barack Obama’s past and his connections with pro-Palestinian activists and foreign policy experts who had problematic records on Israel, his choices of Hillary Clinton and others in the State Department hierarchy have relieved some concerns (the choice of Jim Jones as National Security Adviser has given us, and others, qualms.
His outreach to these groups give rise to heightened concerns. They are well-known for advocating for more pressure on Israel and have had skeptical, at best, views towards actions Israel has taken to defend her citizens. What may be less appreciated are the ties these groups have with billionaire hedge fund activist George Soros-a man whose anti-Israel statements and actions are well-known. For example, he has written critiques of the so-called Israel Lobby and in support of the work of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, two academics who have castigated the “Israel Lobby” in such a fashion that have led critics to call their work anti-Semitic, in the Washington Post op-ed section, no less.
Soros has also been an early and ardent supporter of Barack Obama He and his family have continued to shower their support on Barack Obama-helping to pay for the Inaugural festivities Soros funds a wide range of 527 groups: activist groups that , in effect, are used to promote the candidacy of favored candidates.
You may say what you want about the man, but he knows a good investment when he sees one.
Washington works by access. How is this access gained? By showing support during campaigns. This Soros has done for Barack Obama. Apparently, the Obama team has now given groups tied to George Soros access to its members. These members will have influence on the foreign policies of the Obama administration.
J street was formed to counter the work of the long established pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Soros has long-called for such a group to be formed. George Soros himself was involved in the early planning for the formation of J Street but took on a less visible role when his involvement prompted concerns that J Street would reflect his own harsh views towards Israel. Nevertheless, Soros has not been known to let a good investment opportunity got to waste. He knows how to make his influence felt even if it is not visible. His hedge fund is based in an overseas jurisdiction precisely to avoid scrutiny.
How to influence the levers of power? By ensuring key people are in place to influence the actions of groups. Personnel is policy.
J street has a number of people close to George Soros in key positions.
For example, Morton Haleprin is on the advisory council of J Street. How does J Street describe him? As a former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. In contrast to most of the other people on the council, J Street chose to ignore his present employment. That might be to avoid controversy. He is also George Soros’s top aide and now serves as the Director of US Advocacy at the Open Society Institute: George Soros multi-billion dollar activists group . Wonder what kind of advocacy Mr. Halperin will be engaging in?
Robert Malley is also on the advisory council of J Street. He is also the Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis (ICG)-a “think-tank” heavily funded by George Soros-who serves on its Executive Board, who was given a Founders Award by the group, and who has praised the ICG for its work on the Palestinian question (such work being highly critical of Israel).
Eli Pariser is also on the council of J Street. He is the executive director of of MoveOn. Org- a major recipient of funding from George Soros.
Brit Tzedek v’Shalom is a human rights group that is also highly critical of Israel . This group also has an office in Washington D.C., to lobby government officials. The group has worked with the Open Society Institute to, among other goals, promote “Breaking the Silence”-a tour of former Israeli soldiers who protested the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces . The group has also relies, in part, on the work of Open Society employees to promote its-and the Open Society’s agenda.
Given the initial outreach the Obama campaign has shown towards these groups, and the continuing influence of George Soros in the Obama administration (see "Liberal, Soros-aided Center for American Progress has clout in Obama’s DC"), people should not be surprised if these groups become not just more visible in Washington, but also more powerful.